Captain Corelli's Mandolin by Louis De BernieresCaptain Corelli's Mandolin by Louis De Bernieres

Captain Corelli's Mandolin

byLouis De Bernieres

Paperback | August 4, 1997

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Extravagant, inventive, emotionally sweeping, Captain Corelli's Mandolin is the story of a timeless place that one day wakes up to find itself in the jaws of history. The place is the Greek island of Cephallonia, where gods once dabbled in the affairs of men and the local saint periodically rises from his sarcophagus to cure the mad. Then the tide of World War II rolls onto the island's shores in the form of the conquering Italian army.

Caught in the occupation are Pelagia, a willful, beautiful young woman, and the two suitors vying for her love: Mandras, a gentle fisherman turned ruthless guerilla, and the charming, mandolin-playing Captain Corelli, a reluctant officer of the Italian garrison on the island. Rich with loyalties and betrayals, and set against a landscape where the factual blends seamlessly with the fantastic, Captain Corelli's Mandolin is a passionate novel as rich in ideas as it is genuinely moving.
Among Louis de Bernières’ bestselling novels are Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, The Troublesome Offspring of Cardinal Guzman, Señor Vivo and the Coca Lord and The War of Don Emmanuel’s Nether Parts. He lives in London.
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Title:Captain Corelli's MandolinFormat:PaperbackDimensions:7.8 × 5.1 × 1.1 inPublished:August 4, 1997Publisher:Random House UKLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0749397543

ISBN - 13:9780749397548

Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Simply beautiful This book is simply beautiful. The characters are so human and you can't help but feel like you're there with them.
Date published: 2018-06-19
Rated 4 out of 5 by from I liked it, but not as much as I thought I would While the book was interesting, it was a little slow and dull at some parts. Having said that it was a beautiful story and I am glad I read the book.
Date published: 2017-03-02
Rated 3 out of 5 by from A tad dull While I love that this book is an epic love story set against a war backdrop, the story did drag on a tad and, at times, got quite boring. You definitely will need a bit of patience to finish this book
Date published: 2017-02-20
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Play that mandolin, Captain! Love, war, and now add Italians and Germans, makes for one twisted story on this Greek island during WWII. Madras and Pelagia are engaged, but there is a long road ahead of them if they are to make it. Antonio makes an interesting love triangle with his mandolin. Plus follow Carlos struggle as he fights on two fronts to work out his feelings for his affections. Now the Germans take over the Greeks or will there be freedom for them? Rough read, but not as corny as the movie.
Date published: 2013-05-28
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Got much more interesting about 1/3 of the way into the book. 3.25 stars During World War II, Greece is occupied by Italian soldiers. Captain Corelli stays at a house with Dr. Iannis and his daughter, Pelagia. Although Pelagia is betrothed to a Greek boy who has gone to fight, she and Corelli fall in love. I could have done without the entire first third of the book or so. It was a lot of background/setup, and the story really didn't get interesting to me until Corelli entered the picture (a third of the way into the book). That storyline held my attention. I liked Corelli, Pelagia and her father. Other chapters that focused more on the war and on Pelagia's betrothed really weren't interesting to me in the least. I did like that there were plenty of humourous bits in the story,. I also loved Pelagia's pet pine martin, Psipsina. Once the war ended, and the focus was back on Pelagia, it was, once again, much more interesting to me.
Date published: 2012-07-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Deep. Very very deep. I agree that the ending was a little fairytale-ish. However, not all stories need twists and turns and intricate plots. This book was definitely more character driven than it was plot driven. This is a love story without all the drivel of the mainstream foolishness that 's out there. Admittedly it did take me a few attempts to get into the book, but once I got started, I want needed to know more. I also agree that although it was easy to put the book down at any time, I quickly had it picking at my brain and felt the need to pick it up shortly after. Not all stories should be a quick-and-easy-to-read fix. Some stories need time and TLC. This is one of those books. Moreover, it is definitely a quotable. There are so many passages that are beautifully written and quite memorable.
Date published: 2006-07-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Musical This book reads like music, with every sort of rhythm and melody, with underlying harmonies and the occasional calculated discord. A beautiful, horrible story of love and of war, Captain Corelli's Mandolin weaves flawlessly tragedy and comedy, tears and laughter, into a story both fantastic and yet very true-to-life. The characters leap from the pages and grab onto your heart. None of them are perfect, but they are all endearing. The story flows smoothly, catching the reader's attention from the start. Though undeniably a piece of intelligent literature, it is no punishment to read. A beautiful and bittersweet love story which also shows with honesty the pain and terror of war, it touches on such issues as betrayal, corruption, loyalty, even homosexuality. This is one of my favourite books in the world, and I urge everyone to read it!
Date published: 2002-07-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Classic Saga Captain Corelli's Mandolin incorporates both humor and satire and tragedy and war. This book manages to tell a story of life on a secluded Greek island without going overboard. A lot of people feel that the ending is wrong. That is because in this day and age, we are just used to the usual boy meets girl boy and girl fall in love with each other boy/girl has to go away but boy/girl returns before he/she have become ugly/old. The ending shows the endurance and truth of their love. The fact that they have both waited so long is touching and beautiful. In fact, I believe that the parting sentence is unequable. I would definitely recommend this book to everyone, as it is a timeless romance that has something for everyone.
Date published: 2002-05-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from breathtaking I found this book a little slow in the beginning, but it picked up quickly and just kept going. It tore at my heart and made me laugh at the same time. This book made me realize what my grandfather (who was an Italian soldier during WWll) had to live through and it made me angry. Louis de Bernieres tells a tragic yet magical story of war, love, betrayal and forgiveness. The only thing that bothered me was the fairytale ending. I think the author should have added a few more twists and turns to complete his story on a more plausable level. All in all, a wonderful tear-jerker. I loved it.
Date published: 2001-06-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from No words to describe it!!! What a heart wrenching story! It moved me through the emotions of love, sadness, horror, excitement and bitterness. I have recomended it to all my friends.
Date published: 2001-05-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from War is Hell Louis de Bernieres writes an amazing novel for all ages and sexes. There's graphic descriptions of war for the boys, and stories of true love for the girls. The novel is gruesome, comical, sad, educational, and all and all, a good read. It shows an unbiased view of what WWII really was. The ending of the novel IS GOOD! A few people say it's a disappointment, but its not.
Date published: 2001-04-04
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Interesting Characters, Bad Ending I'd heard such good things about this book that I was surprised that, while reading it, I found it very easy to put it down at any given time. Although there is a loose plotline, the many characters and many points of view represented lead it to read more like a series of vignettes rather than a novel -- it reminded me of the style of One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Many of the chararacters (particularly Carlos) are well drawn, interesting, and emotionally involving. However, I just didn't find myself wrapped up in the story, and it took me much longer than usual to get through this novel. Lastly, I agree with reviewers below who pointed out that the ending was silly and felt tacked on. After suffering through years of hardship with the lovers, knowing the sacrifices others made for them, I can't believe they would act the way they did in the final chapters. A definite let down that put a negative spin on the entire book.
Date published: 2001-03-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from the best book ever there is much to say, this is a must read.The best book! my friends and I love it!
Date published: 2001-02-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from AMAZING Captain Corelli's Mandolin is by far the best book I have ever read.There's no words to describe how hypnotic, wonderful and real this book is.Louis de Berniere has written a masterpiece which involves human tragedy, love, humour, history and politics all in one.When his characters speak you hear them, when they hurt you can feel them.A greek writer could not have written it better!
Date published: 2000-12-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from AMAZING CORELLI Pick up this book only under the following conditions: 1.you realize that you will never find another book that parallels the quality of this love story. 2.you have a weekend free in which to read it, for once you start you can't stop until you've read the last word. 3.you are prepared to laugh, to cry, to be 100% emotionally immersed in the most fantastic story of love and courage ever written. "i never want to read again, because i know that there is no other book as good as this one"
Date published: 2000-10-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from I agree with Kelly.... ...from New Brunswick. A wonderful read right up until the bad "Jeffrey Archer" ending. It was almost as if he was writing to a publisher's deadline. Check out De Bernier's earlier South American trilogy, which is clearly his much better work - inspired prose that was a delight to read, a la Mario Vargas Llosa.
Date published: 2000-07-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Captivating My bookclub and I read this book and all 10 of us loved it. We agreed that the author spun a captivating tale drawing the reader into the story.
Date published: 2000-07-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Something for Everyone It may be just a personal preference, but I have a great love for books that cannot be pigeonholed as funny, sad, romantic, historic, etc.,but fit into many categories. Captain Corelli's Mandolin does this and more. It provides genuine bellylaughs and brings you to, or past, the verge of tears. It describes tender love, without the graphic, anatomical descritions of lovemaking so many writers find it necessary to include. It suggests some new thoughts on History. All the while, it is probably the second best anti-war novel ever written. No contest here, Catch-22 is still ahead. Vince
Date published: 2000-07-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from My favourite book ever A good friend gave me a copy of this book soon after it was published. Since then I've read it at least two dozen times, and I've recommended it and given copies of it to countless other friends, almost all of whom loved it too! There is just so much to love about this book -- inspired characters, limpid prose, challenging language, sense of place (places, in fact), a multiplicity of engaging narrative voices. When de Bernières writes as Carlo, he *is* Carlo; when he writes as Mussolini, you feel as though the Duce himself is shouting at you. I don't know how he does it, but I wish he would do it again.
Date published: 2000-07-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Perfect Novel I will be reading this one over and over again! Beautifully written, it has history, a love story, and the most wonderful and memorable group of characters. I recommend this inspiring novel to those who liked Michael Ondaatje's "The English Patient," for its beauty, and also to those who enjoyed Anne Michael's "Fugitive Pieces."
Date published: 2000-07-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from 3/4 Brilliant; 1/4 Mediocre CAPTAIN CORELLI'S MANDOLIN is a gripping tale of love and war, peopled with fascinating and memorable characters. It is set during the Second World War, on a Greek island occupied by Italian and German troops, one of whom falls in love with a young Greek woman. The novel documents the horrors of war and its aftermath for soldiers and civilians on both sides of the War. De Bernieres juxtaposes horrific scenes of battles and violence with scenes of heroism, courage, and noble self-sacrifice not to mention comic scenes of everyday life. It is almost impossible to read this book without being affected. Which is why the ending of the novel is such a grave disappointment. In theory, the ending might have worked had only the characters not acted so blatantly out-of-character. It is hard to believe the final few chapters were written by the same author. Still, it is a moving and affecting story, well worth reading despite the flawed ending.
Date published: 2000-06-24

Bookclub Guide

1. What understanding does Pelagia have of love as a young girl? How do her ideas come to change during the course of the novel? What is Carlo Guercio's definition of love? How does it guide his actions throughout the story? What is the difference between the love he feels for Francisco and that which he feels for Corelli? How might the other characters define love? Which of them lives up to his or her conception of it?2. Why do you think de Bernieres chose to make his romantic hero a musician? Why is music, of all the arts, a potential healer of international folly and strife? What significance does Corelli's composition "Pelagia's March" carry within the narrative?3. After Mandras tries to rape Pelagia, he is very decisively rejected not only by Pelagia but by his own mother. Does Drosoula's rejection of her son strike you as reasonable or heartless? As natural or unnatural? Was Mandras irredeemably lost at this point, or might he perhaps have been saved?4. What is the role of the Church in Cephallonian life? What does pragmatic toleration of the drunken Arsenios say about the islanders' culture, their character, and their religion? How does Arsenios repay their tolerance? Does the palpable presence of the ancient deities alongside the Orthodox ceremonial enrich the Greeks' faith or dilute it? What importance does the cult of Saint Gerasimos have for the islanders? What interpretation do individual characters such as Dr. Iannis and Pelagia give to the saint's miraculous "cures"?5. Dr. Iannis writes that the island of Cephallonia is "so immense in antiquity that the very rocks themselves exhale nostalgia and the red earth lies stupefied not only by the sun, but by the impossible weight of memory" [p. 5]. How does their awareness of the island's history and prehistory color the way the Cephallonians see themselves? Does it help them to come to terms with their traditional roles in life? What attitude does it give them toward their recent conquerors?6. "Honour and common sense; in the light of the other, both of them are ridiculous" [p. 320]. What does de Bernieres mean by this? How do the novel's events confirm or illustrate this statement? Do you find that in certain of the novel's characters these two qualities are not, in fact, mutually exclusive?7. Carlo Guercio memorably describes the war as "frivolous" [p. 116]. What does he mean by this? How is the quality of frivolity exemplified in the actions of the military leaders and those who follow them? Do you find the adjective an appropriate one for the war described in these pages?8. What message does this book deliver on the nature of political ideology and political passion? What is the role of political ideology in the lives of Mandras, Kokolias, Stamatis, Hector, Weber, Alexi? How do their actions support or refute their stated political creeds? What political or antipolitical ideals inspire the novel's most noble characters, Carlo and Dr. Iannis?9. During World War II, atrocities and betrayals were committed on an unprecedented scale. De Bernieres explores the psychology of those who committed those atrocities through several of his characters. Mandras's justification that "it was Hector who was the executioner and he was only the hand" [p. 193] was a common one among Nazi, Fascist, and Communist executioners. How does this justification differ from Gunter Weber's traumatic decision to obey Hitler's order for the massacre of Italian soldiers? Why is Gunter characterized as a "good Nazi"? Is this appellation entirely ironic?10. Do you find de Bernieres's use of national stereotypes to be effective within his fictional scheme? To what degree can Dr. Iannis be seen as the personification of Greece, Corelli as the spirit of Italy? Do they succeed as three-dimensional characters as well? Do Pelagia's and Corelli's guilt-induced decisions to refute their own nationalities make them any the less "Greek" or "Italian"?11. Dr. Iannis finds that in writing his history, "objectivity seemed to be quite unattainable" [p. 4]. Carlo says that history tends to be "the propaganda of the victors" when it should consist "only of the anecdotes of the little people who are caught up in it" [p. 33]. Does de Bernieres confront these problems in the way he writes his own historical novel? What narrative techniques does he employ in telling his story? In his Author's Note, de Bernieres describes history as "hearsay tempered with myth and hazy memory" [p. 436], yet he himself has in fact remained very faithful to the historical facts as we know them. Why, then, does he offer this apology? Are myth and history significantly differentiated by de Bernieres? By Iannis? By Pelagia?12. Did Pelagia believe that Corelli died during the war? If not, why does she not leave Cephallonia and try to find him? Does her remaining at home denote passivity or ambivalence about their relationship? What about Pelagia's initial rage at Corelli when they meet again — do you feel that her anger is excessive, or that possibly she is not angry enough?13. In Pelagia's youth no woman was allowed to enter a kapheneia; thirty years later, the elderly Drosoula runs her own taverna and young Antonia is a successful businesswoman. Changes in social mores might not have manifested themselves as dramatically on Cephallonia during the postwar years as they did in more cosmopolitan areas, but they were in fact radical and profound. How does everyday life on Cephallonia reflect these changes? What role, if any, did the 1953 earthquake play in changing the island, and in the shift in generations? Does de Bernieres imply that the changes are for the better, or for the worse? Or, perhaps, that in essence life has not changed very much at all?14. Does the happy ending conform with the plot and spirit of the entire novel, or does it represent a shift into a more fantastic, less realistic mode? Do you find it to be an appropriate or an inappropriate conclusion to Pelagia's and Corelli's story?15. In what way are the novel's characters directly or indirectly compared with figures from Greek mythology? Among the Cephallonians, what modern manifestations do we find of Apollo, Aphrodite, Penelope, Odysseus, Hercules, and other mythological figures? What message about time and change does de Bernieres convey through these parallels?16. De Bernieres chooses his characters' names with care. What significance can you ascribe to particular names, such as Pelagia, Mandras, Hector, Corelli, Weber?17. Why do you think de Bernieres has chosen the Humbert Wolfe poem "The Soldier" to launch his narrative? Which themes in the poem are explored in the novel itself? Perhaps the most famous war poem in the English language, by Rupert Brooke, is also called "The Soldier." How does Wolfe's poem comment upon Brooke's? How might the various soldiers in Captain Corelli's Mandolin respond to the assertions made by both poets? Is the kind of idealism glorified by Brooke finally meaningless, as many of his contemporaries, physically and emotionally crushed by World War I, came to find it? Or is it in fact a valuable characteristic, at least within de Bernieres's moral scheme?

From Our Editors

It is the salad days of the Second World War and Captain Antonio Corelli, a young Italian officer, is serving out his time as part of the occupying forces on the Greek island of Cephallonia. While the war is raging, things seem awkwardly serene from his agreeable posting, as Corelli is a kind, conscientious man who wants nothing more than peaceful war. A consummate musician, he passes time plucking his mandolin and courting the daughter of a local daughter. Just as their love begins to bloom, the intensity of the war is turned up, bringing the savagery within a heartbeat of the island. Captain Corelli's Mandolin has the flowing quality of a great composition and displays the acute narrative sense of history's finest writers.

Editorial Reviews

"Brims with all the grand topics of literature — love and death, heroism and skull-duggery, humor and pathos, not to mention art and religion…A good old-fashioned novel."—Washington Post Book World"An exuberant mixture of history and romance, written with a wit that is incandescent"—Los Angeles Times Book Review"Stunning…A high-spirited historical romance…Remarkable."—The New York Times Book Review"His novel will give pleasure to all sorts of readers. It is also so good that it will last."—A.S. Byatt writing in Evening Standard"Captain Corelli’s Mandolin is an emotional, funny, stunning novel which swings with wide smoothness between joy and bleakness, personal lives and history…it’s lyrical and angry, satirical and earnest."—Observer"A wonderful, hypnotic novel of fabulous scope and tremendous iridescent charm."—Joseph Heller"It is funny, heartbreaking, and horrifying in its fictional testimony….Captain Corelli's Mandolin, delightful and sad, comic and at the same time nearly unbearable in its portrayal of European darkness during the war, is a tour de force depiction of the triumph of life over evil by one of Europe's great comic writers of our time."—Booklist"Dazzling.…a fabulous book in the tradition of Tolstoy and Dickens.…So joyous and heartbreaking, so rich and musical and wise, that reading it is like discovering anew the enchanting power of fiction."—San Francisco Chronicle