Brain Candy Sale

Special Offers see all

Enter to WIN a $100 Credit

Subscribe to
for a chance to win.
Privacy Policy

Visit our stores

    Recently Viewed clear list

    The Powell's Playlist | September 25, 2015

    Caitlin Doughty: IMG Caitlin Doughty's Playlist for Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

    The soundtrack perfectly suited to facing your own mortality. ("My Way," "Wind beneath My Wings," and other popular funeral songs need not apply.)... Continue »
    1. $11.17 Sale Trade Paper add to wish list

Qualifying orders ship free.
List price: $16.00
Used Trade Paper
Ships in 1 to 3 days
Add to Wishlist
Qty Store Section
1 Beaverton Literature- A to Z

Beatrice and Virgil


Beatrice and Virgil Cover

ISBN13: 9780812981544
ISBN10: 0812981545
Condition: Standard
All Product Details

Only 1 left in stock at $8.50!



Reading Group Guide

1. What is Beatrice & Virgil about?


2. Why do you think Martel decided to name both of his characters “Henry”?


3. Discuss the characters of Beatrice and Virgil. Why might Martel have chosen them to be a donkey and a howler monkey, and why might he have chosen to name these characters after Dante’s guides through hell, purgatory, and heaven?


4. What do you think of Henry’s original idea for his book? Do you agree with him that the Holocaust needs to be remembered in different ways, beyond the confines of “historical realism”? Why, or why not?


5. How would you compare Beatrice & Virgil to Life of Pi? How do Yann Martel’s aims in the two novels differ, and how are they similar?


6. Close to the start of the book, Henry (the writer) says, “A book is a part of speech. At the heart of mine is an incredibly upsetting event that can survive only in dialogue” (p. 12). What does this mean? How does his comment inform the book we are reading?


7. Describe the role Flaubert’s story “The Legend of Saint Julian Hospitator” plays in the novel.


8. How do you explain Henry’s wife’s reaction to the taxidermist and his workshop?


9. How do you feel about the play “A 20th-Century Shirt”? Could it be performed? What role does it play in the book?


10. What moral challenges does Beatrice & Virgil present the reader with? What does it leave you thinking about?


11. How is writing like or unlike taxidermy in the book?


12. What role do Erasmus and Mendelssohn play in the novel?


13. What is the significance of 68 Nowolipki Street?


14. How is Henry changed by the events of the novel? How does this relate to Beatrice and Virgil having “no reason to change” (p. 151) over the course of their play?


15. What would you put in your own sewing kit?

What Our Readers Are Saying

Add a comment for a chance to win!
Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

joyce kelly, March 8, 2011 (view all comments by joyce kelly)
I had enjoyed Martel's, "Life of Pi", for its creative, unique fantasy-survival story, so I thought I would enjoy this book even though I already knew the animals would be connected to the Holocaust in some manner. However, I truly regret reading this book. In reading the first 80 pages or more, I wondered where will the action, or purpose, or interesting part begin and so I read on. Throughout much of this book, my thought was that the characters were void of the Christ--without any spiritual insight and without hope, except perhaps for the character of the author's wife. Gustav's games at the end also portrays this lack of hope and insight in that God is not mentioned or sought until after earthly life is over. The questions of the game pertain to death and terror-dark thoughts. The story lends no apology or sympathy to Holocaust survivors, and almost appears to be suggesting that Nazi's could not help themselves with any self-control when it came to torturing or killing others. Now I will have to do my best to clear my mind of the dark actions and the hopeless thoughts in this story, which I can only conclude are Martel's dark thoughts and curiosities. I doubt if I will ever read another one of Martel's books.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(0 of 1 readers found this comment helpful)

Product Details

Martel, Yann
Spiegel & Grau
Literature-A to Z
fiction;holocaust;animals;taxidermy;allegory;novel;canadian;writing;literature;21st century;literary fiction;canada;canadian literature;contemporary fiction;writers;authors;literary
fiction;holocaust;animals;taxidermy;allegory;novel;canadian;writing;literature;21st century;writers;canadian literature;literary fiction;contemporary fiction;canada;literary;adult;authors
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
7.95 x 5.16 x .63 in .46 lb

Other books you might like

  1. The Autobiography of Mark Twain... Used Trade Paper $6.95
  2. Anthill Used Hardcover $7.95
  3. Room
    Sale Mass Market $3.98

Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

Beatrice and Virgil Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$8.50 In Stock
Product details 240 pages Spiegel & Grau - English 9780812981544 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

Wow — 9 years was certainly worth the wait!  Henry L'Hôte is a wildly successful novelist who is thwarted in his desire to publish his next novel. While taking a break from writing, he receives a mysterious package from a fan who sends part of a story, part of a play, and a note asking for his help. What follows could only happen in a Yann Martel novel; he makes the surreal and impossible seems normal and routine. A strange and  unsettling relationship develops between Henry-the-author, and Henry-the-taxidermist, from which the author is somehow unable to disengage. A unique and surprising story, Beatrice and Virgil will completely draw you in. This latest offering from Martel is a rare treat, a perfect allegory that unfolds effortlessly, while being both entertaining and deeply, profoundly, intensely meaningful. Fantastic!

"Review" by , "Dark but divine....This novel might just be a masterpiece about the Holocaust....Martel brilliantly guides the reader from the too-sunny beginning into the terrifying darkness of the old man's shop and Europe's past. Everything comes into focus by the end, leaving the reader startled, astonished, and moved."
"Review" by , "[A] slim but potent exploration of the nature of survival in the face of evil....Beatrice and Virgil is a chilling addition to the literature about the horrors most of us cannot imagine, and will stir its readers to think about the depths of depravity to which humanity can sink and the amplitude of our capacity to survive."
"Review" by , "Those spell-bound by Man Booker prize-winning Life of Pi will find much to love in Yann Martel’s new work of fiction....In Beatrice and Virgil, Martel again evokes the power of allegory, this time to address the legacy of the Holocaust — as well as the pleasure of fairy tales. At the heart of this novel are questions about truth and illusion, responsibility and innocence, and Martel is able to employ Beatrice and Virgil as sympathetic, nuanced vehicles for his vision. Beatrice and Virgil is a thought-provoking delight."
"Review" by , "Martel's Life of Pi engaged readers with the predicament of a shipwrecked boy and tiger; his new fable is just as inventive, provocative, and artful — only this time the peril is genocide."
"Review" by , "Brilliant...with this short, crisply written, many-layered book, Martel has once again demonstrated that nothing tells the truth like fiction....Another philosophical winner."
"Review" by , "Has many wonders...Martel’s latest book does something extraordinary. It causes the reader to contemplate serious ideas, and to think. Beatrice and Virgil will haunt you long after the final page."
"Review" by , "If Beatrice and Virgil were a piece of music, it would be an extended fugue, beginning so quietly as to be almost inaudible, and culminating in a moment of overwhelming noise followed by silence....There is indeed no exit from Beatrice and Virgil, not even when the book culminates in its final moment of overwhelming crescendo, as Martel’s characters find themselves trapped in an eruption of hell-like flames. Like the echoing themes of a fugue, all the components of the Martel’s novel fit tightly together, leading up to one ultimate moment of terror."
  • back to top


Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and gifts — here at