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Thrown Into Nature

Milen Ruskov

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Description

“I was bewitched by this strangely beguiling novel, beautifully written and conceived with an astonishing imaginative range. Ruskov writes like an angel.”—Alex Miller, Author of Journey to the Stone Country

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A humorous picaresque set in sixteenth-century Spain, Thrown into Nature tells the story of Dr. Nicolás Monardes, whose medical treatise “Of the Tabaco and His Great Vertues” was partially responsible for introducing tobacco to Europe. His Portuguese assistant, Da Silva, narrates the absurd adventures of the wealthy and influential Dr. Monardes, who steadfastly believed that tobacco—whether the leaves were made into a poultice, the smoke was piped into the anus, or through some other bizarre application—was an infallible cure for every physical, and mental, ailment known to man. He even uses clouds of “cigarella” smoke to chase a poltergeist from a church.

A blackly hilarious novel that hides its pessimistic reflections on the power of money, the evils of charlatanism, and the gullibility of humanity behind the comic observations and adventures of the always striving and forever bumbling Da Silva, Milen Ruskov’s Thrown into Nature is a comic tour de force.

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Milen Ruskov (1966), a Bulgarian writer and translator, graduated from Sofia University in 1995. He has written two novels: Pocket Encyclopaedia of Mysteries, which was awarded the Bulgarian Prize for Debut Fiction, and Thrown into Nature, which was awarded the prize for VIK Novel of the Year. Working as a translator from English, he has translated more than twenty books, including Confessions of an English Opium-Eater by Thomas De Quincey, Novel Notes and The Angel and the Author by Jerome K. Jerome, Money by Martin Amis, and Transformation by Mary Shelley. In 2009, he won the Elizabeth Kostova Foundation’s Krustan Dyankov Translation Award for his translations of Money by Martin Amis and De Niro’s Game by Rawi Hage.

Publishers Weekly Review

Nov 28, 2011 – Ruskov's romp through 16th century Spain is framed as a treatise on the miraculous powers of tobacco to heal all human ills. The narrator of this bizarrely amusing novel is Guimarães da Silva, apprentice to the gloomy Doctor Monardes. Together, they tour Europe enacting miraculous cures: they raise a man from the dead, save a king's son with a tobacco-smoke enema, and banish evil spirits. On their journeys, they meet literary luminaries of the time, including Cervantes, Ben Johnson, and Lope de Vega. Under the auspices of adventure, Ruskov engages in profound philosophical speculation about Nature and Man's place in the world. Nature is da Silva's enemy, one whose wild and indiscriminate power distorts and destroys without regard to humanity (a mere "pipe, through which Nature passes"). Their efforts to subvert Nature often succeed, but over time their ignorance, despite good intentions, devolves into charlatanism and greed. Ruskov's novel suggests the flaws of Enlightenment faith in reason at the expense of man's spiritual impulses. Despite such weighty themes, the novel is never boring, and with the help of a splendid translation, Ruskov successfully manages to balance complexity and entertainment. While no Don Quixote, the novel is a marvelous and ambitious work that poses timeless existential questions.
Thrown Into Nature
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  • $9.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Literary
  • Published: Nov 01, 2011
  • Publisher: Open Letter
  • Seller: University of Rochester
  • Print Length: 294 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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