The Laughter of Carthage: The Second Volume of the Colonel Pyat Quartet

Maxim Arturovitch Pyatnitski, that charming but despicable mythomaniac who first appeared in Byzantium Endures, is back. Having fled Bolshevik Russia in late 1919, Pyat’s progress is a series of leaps from crisis to crisis, as he begins affairs with a Baroness and a Greek prostitute while undertaking schemes to build flying machines in Europe and the United States. His devotion to flamboyantly racist, particularly anti-Semitic doctrines—like his devotion to cocaine—remains unabated, and he both sings the praises of Mussolini and lectures across America for the Ku Klux Klan. (His best kept secret is of course, the fact that he is Jewish.) As the novel ends, Pyat is in Hollywood—his new Byzantium—hobnobbing with movie stars and dreaming of making films like those of his hero, D.W. Griffith.

Engineer, braggart, addict, Pyat is a magnificent invention, a genius of innocent vituperation: his finest achievement (and that of the author) is that his own warped and deluded vision is powerful enough to redefine reality. This authoritative edition presents the first time this work has been available in paperback in the U.S., along with a new introduction by Alan Wall.

Praise:

“Michael Moorcock is an absolute wizard of a storyteller. I can think of no writer like him, not here, not America. He is a wonder…it is marvelous to meet a novelist who has the energy for the epic. It is not simply a case of energy, Mr. Moorcock is also a storyteller, an old-fashioned button-holing, nineteenth-century storyteller.”
—Stanley Reynolds, Punch

“This is a rich, ambitious and erudite book.… If one purpose of fiction is to lead us into different worlds and, as Virginia Woolf says, to make of them ‘some kind of whole,’ then Michael Moorcock succeeds brilliantly.”
—Carolyn Slaughter, The Guardian

The Laughter of Carthage and its companion volumes will be seen…as an imaginative record of our own time rather than as a simple reconstruction of that which has gone.”
—Peter Ackroyd, The Sunday Times

The Laughter of Carthage is a formidable work in which science and technology are subordinated to narrative techniques not usually found in popular fiction…a work of grand design…cast as Pyatnitski’s memoirs of a life uprooted by the Russian Revolution. He brags of his  exploits as a Don Cossack; he claims pure Russian blood and a batch of patents for airplanes and automobiles. But one can never be sure that anything Pyatnitski says is true. He is certainly an egomaniac and very likely mad; he is also a reactionary Tom Swift, an anti-Semite, a sybarite and a paranoiac with a gargantuan appetite for cocaine. Rabid anti-Semitism is his way of denying the past and advancing his career as scientist and gentleman. There is also ample indication of a thin line between deceit and self-delusion. Pyat’s first stop on his flight from Bolshevism is Istanbul, a teeming cosmopolis of thieves and whores but also a site idealized as the bastion of a once glorious Christendom. From there, the grotesque innocent moves west through Rome, Paris, New York City and Hollywood. Moorcock takes large risks…there are rewarding detours: lush descriptions of landscapes and the world’s great cities, and a parade of characters that would feel at home in the novels of Dickens, Nabokov and Henry Miller.”
TIME

About Michael Moorcock:

Born in London in 1939, Michael Moorcock now lives in Bastrop, Texas and Paris, France. A prolific and award-winning writer with more than eighty works of fiction and nonfiction to his name, he is the creator of Elric, Jerry Cornelius, and Colonel Pyat amongst many other memorable characters.

About Alan Wall (introduction):

Alan Wall is a novelist, short story writer, poet and essayist. His novels include Bless the Thief, The Lightning Cage, The School of Night, China, and Sylvie’s Riddle. He is currently Professor of Writing and Literature at the University of Chester.

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