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Lost Paradise

by Cees Nooteboom

At first this seems to be a book of two unconnected halves. What possible link is there between two Brazilian girls travelling in Australia in search of Aboriginal culture and a journalist seeking to lose weight in an Alpine spa? Answer: angels. The result is a delightful mix of travel, art, literature, life and Milton’s Paradise Lost all in 151 pages – and everyone of them charming, light and serious all at the same time.

Extract

Angels do not exist, and yet they are divided into orders much like the hierarchy in an army. They fly to and fro in frescoes, act as the bearers of glad tidings in the paintings of Raphael and Giotto, serve as stone guardians by the graves of the rich in Buenos Aires and Genoa, and accompany the doomed to the outer gates of Paradise with their flaming swords held high. They have names, bodies and wings; they are genderless and yet they are not women; they are immortal, which means that no skeletal remains have ever been found, so that no one has ever been able to examine them to find out how those gigantic wings are connected to their shoulder blades - in short they are part of the world around us even though they do not exist ....
Translated by Susan Massotty

Parallels

The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith by Thomas Keneally
 

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