Thursday, June 27, 2013

Review: The legend of the glorious adventures of Tyl Ulenspiegel in the land of Flanders & elsewhere

The legend of the glorious adventures of Tyl Ulenspiegel in the land of Flanders & elsewhere
The legend of the glorious adventures of Tyl Ulenspiegel in the land of Flanders & elsewhere by Charles de Coster

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Please note: I read this book probably in 2003 or so, and wrote the review a long time ago, so please don't judge by my current standards, but I'm wanting to get this book "out there", so am reposting this review.

How I Came to Read This Book: My husband had this book and recommended that I read it. It is a large tome and I approached it with a bit of trepidation, expecting something Dickenson, but I was very pleasantly surprised. It is very approachable and highly readable.

My Synopsis: This book is, basically, about the life of Tyl Ulenspiegl, from his birth, following him as he grows into manhood. He is a highly charismatic person and, although it is a bit of a detriment in the times he lives in (set in the earliest years of Christianity, when it was most set on wiping out any vestiges of Paganism using the most ghastly means possible, and upholding "holiness" using those same means), quite the ladies' man. The story follows him as he is banished from his home village in Belgium (I think - it has been a couple years since I read it and it is a bit hard to excavate from where it is right now) for many years (as well as keeping us updated on what is transpiring back home) and he keeps running across many of the same characters in his travels. He unfortunately arrives home just in time for a gross miscarriage in justice; but I do not wish to ruin the story by providing any spoilers, so I will not go into any specific details.

My Thoughts and Review: This book provides many moments of laugh-out-loud hilarity; it also has just as many moments of somber sorrow. It provides ghastly horror as well. The overall message of the story seemed to be that when the Men in Black Robes (religion) were given too much power over the people, then destruction of their lifestyle was sure to follow; however, life would go on, because humanity could rise above any circumstances thrown their way. In the end, it is a message of the triumph of humanity over the pettiness of religious dogma, I felt. I should also point out that not all religious persons were painted in negative light - only those who were extremeists. Many were true Christians, willing to follow the examples set by Christ of true love for their neighbors. I don't want to put off people from reading this book, thinking that it slams all religion, because it doesn't - it just speaks very strongly against dogmatics who attack that which they don't understand and thus feel they must destroy it. This is an amazing book and I am very sad that is is no longer in print - I hope that people can get their hands on it and read it - it is very worthwhile.

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