True Riches Or, Wealth Without Wings (TREDITION CLASSICS)
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Someone urges Mark Niven to read Balzac. But Mark, with his monomaniac quest, his passion for money, his lone stand against the world, is already a character in a novel by Balzac, as are his enemies, powered by greed and anarchic individualism. It would be salutary to discover why this book, whose messages are unremittingly deflationary, should leave one so elated. This more than worthy successor is a truly noble performance, a fairy tale on of our times on the grand scale… The story is not only of great simplicity but of great drive… joys of first love tenderly described.
But then the plot moves to new York and the picture darkens… Vizinczey has mounted an all-out attack on the evils of western society… You read slowly even when you long to know the end. It's full of the insights and obsessions of a man who has lived an extraordinary life and observed, with a filing-cabinet eye, the corruption of the powerful and the foibles of the insignificant. Charming and very, very tough. With his gift for powerful aphorisms, he frequently interrupts his story to comment on it without ever losing his narrative momentum. Vizinczey has placed himself in a category with Conrad and Nabokov as a foreigner who handles English in a way that strikes jealousy into the heart of the native English speaker.
A great novel.
I have just finished reading it for the third time and I now consider it three times as good as I did after the first reading. If you like fiction with narrative power and rich philosophical texture, be sure to reread it. When the teenager Mark Niven is suffering intensely because his earnest letters to American corporations go unanswered, Vizinczey writes: 'He didn't know that America's efficiency experts had looked at the figures and decided that firms could save postage and secretarial time by ignoring inquiries that didn't interest them. No doubt eliminating politeness from society is a cost-effective way of hastening the day when people will bite each other in the street.
The news is old enough, yet it is every day's news. Men and women are not made for mutual satisfaction. Women cannot always flow and even when they do, they well up slowly, while men are quick as torrents - they are primed by nature to burst forth at different times. It wasn't often that either of them crossed the twenty-minute gap, the abyss between the sexes. Vizinczey tells the story of his young hero with the sardonic affection the middle-aged have for their younger and better selves. An Innocent Millionaire has the classic plot of the great realist novels: a young hero from the provinces, dreaming of wealth, power and the love of women, makes his way to the heart of the great metropolis and succeeds beyond even his own imaginings.
But his success turns to ashes. Vizinczey tells the story of his young hero with the sardonic affection the middle-aged have for their younger, better selves. Mark Niven, the expatriate American son of divorced parents. His adventures take him through Europe, America and finally to the shark-infested reefs where his Jungian fantasies come true. He discovers that 'to be rich is to be at war with the world', with a rogues' gallery of art dealers, revolutionaries, gangsters, lawyers, jealous husbands and tax collectors after his money, his life, or both.
Like Stendhal, Vizinczey will take pages to describe a minute in the inner life of a character, then spend a mere sentence on a crucial external action. One of the finest jump-cuts in a narrative with the jerky, superbly unpredictable pacing of Le Rouge et le Noir takes us from Mark's moment of triumph in the sea to the office of the Bahamian tax assessor….
The heart of An Innocent Millionaire is what happens next. Will Mark recognize the true riches of his love for the equally innocent but conveniently wealthy Marianne Hardwick, who is trapped in a deadly marriage to a ruthless tycoon, or will he spend his substance on the quest to recover his albatross of a treasure?
A contemporary version of Stendhal on love and Balzac on money. It is as if Balzac had come back to life and written a novel about the modern world… After all these years preparing in the wings, Vizinczey has stepped forward with a dazzling performance. A sublime parable by a man who can explain a human being in a paragraph.
UN to inventorise India’s cultural riches
The novel is rich in interest and drama, but it is the witty, experienced narrative voice, with its ironic aphorisms, sardonic asides, and the astute running commentary on human weakness and foibles, which invests a lively adventure story of love and intrigue with broader significance. Taken in isolation, the cynical commentary - on legal deviousness, industrial corruption, business insensitivity, media equivocation, art fraud, and so on - might suggest a narrow, embittered perspective.
Certainly the indictment of the legal profession in particular is virulent. But this is one dimension only of a broad moral vision, exacting and unequivocal but large-spirited, which balances censure with shrewd affirmations and affectionate appreciation for human potential. For all the meanness, unscrupulousness, and self-deception mordantly exposed, An Innocent Millionaire also provides convincing displays of integrity, selflessness and love. You will love it. You will not wash dishes, neither will you mow the lawn, but you will sit and read and lament when you have passed the half-way mark.
Vizinczey's previous novel, In Praise of Older Women, was one of the most charming books of the century, and An Innocent Millionaire displays the same quality. His story of Mark Niven's obsessive search for a sunken treasure, his triumphs and failures through an erratic boyhood and youth, his discovery of the treasure and true love at the same time and 'what happened next' is fast-moving and racy, funny and sad. But the novel is not just a tour de force of popular appeal. Irony informs the book's style more than anything else. Vizinczey takes delight in deflating the moral imperatives of the age.
The irony extends to all the human relationships in the book. Children turn their power on their parents, the biter gets bitten in the law courts, the mega-polluter becomes paranoid about pollution and drives his household crazy using bottled water. Not for Vizinczey detachment or the illusion that the story is taking place in the continuous present. They would never see each other again. To be able to distill those experiences into enjoyable literature is a great gift which deserves a great reward.
The gold of the Incas is his.
The naive young man learns to his cost that 'to be rich is to be at war with the world. You marvel at the power of a portrait woven from three adjectives.
Reading this novel you rejoice, you reflect. Here is a book that gladdens the mind. This story of revenge and success conceals a thorough going attack on ruthless ambition, on parvenus and other masters of the world. A good observer, Vizinczey mounts a subtle critique of the milieu of the cinema, the jet-set, politics and business in which irony is blended with a certain resignation. However he never loses sight of the other great theme of his book,: the love story which is, again, a paean of praise for the feminine. But throughout the book it is the way that Vizinczey makes us feel, just under the rippling surface of the story, the complexity, the absurdity and the cruelty of the world, that is the most admirable thing of all.
The novel sheds light on what holds the world together. This binding force is not firm and incontrovertible, as in Goethe, but something fragile and elusive. Our tech geniuses are now working on solving this issue. However, sometimes fixing the game is beyond our control such as an issue that needs to be resolved by the game developer. Would you like us to let you know if we are able to repair the game and when it is working again? Roman Riches.
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