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Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit

 
 
 
 
Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit
Author: Daniel Quinn
ISBN 13: 9780553375404
ISBN 10: 553375407
Edition: Reissue
Publisher: Bantam
Publication Date: 1995-05-01
Format: Paperback
Pages: 263
List Price: $18.00
 
 

The narrator of this extraordinary tale is a man  in search for truth. He answers an ad in a local  newspaper from a teacher looking for serious  pupils, only to find himself alone in an abandoned  office with a full-grown gorilla who is nibbling  delicately on a slender branch. "You are the  teacher?" he asks incredulously. "I am  the teacher," the gorilla replies. Ishmael is  a creature of immense wisdom and he has a story  to tell, one that no other human being has ever  heard. It is a story that extends backward and  forward over the lifespan of the earth from the birth  of time to a future there is still time save.  Like all great teachers, Ishmael refuses to make the  lesson easy; he demands the final illumination to  come from within ourselves. Is it man's destiny  to rule the world? Or is it a higher destiny  possible for him-- one more wonderful than he has ever  imagined?

Publishers Weekly

Quinn ( Dreamer ) won the Turner Tomorrow Award's half-million-dollar first prize for this fascinating and odd book--not a novel by any conventional definition--which was written 13 years ago but could not find a publisher. The unnamed narrator is a disillusioned modern writer who answers a personal ad (``Teacher seeks pupil. . . . Apply in person.'') and thereby meets a wise, learned gorilla named Ishmael that can communicate telepathically. The bulk of the book consists entirely of philosophical dialogues between gorilla and man, on the model of Plato's Republic. Through Ishmael, Quinn offers a wide-ranging if highly general examination of the history of our civilization, illuminating the assumptions and philosophies at the heart of many global problems. Despite some gross oversimplifications, Quinn's ideas are fairly convincing; it's hard not to agree that unrestrained population growth and an obsession with conquest and control of the environment are among the key issues of our times. Quinn also traces these problems back to the agricultural revolution and offers a provocative rereading of the biblical stories of Genesis. Though hardly any plot to speak of lies behind this long dialogue, Quinn's smooth style and his intriguing proposals should hold the attention of readers interested in the daunting dilemmas that beset our planet. 50,000 first printing; major ad/promo. (Jan.)