A Coin in Nine Hands: A Novel

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University of Chicago Press, Nov 5, 1994 - Fiction - 174 pages
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During the space of a day in Rome in 1933, a ten-lira coin passes through the hands of nine people—including an aging artist, a prostitute, and a would-be assassin of Mussolini. The coin becomes the symbol of contact between human beings, each lost in private passions and nearly impenetrable solitude.

"A Coin in Nine Hands has . . . passages that move close to poetry and a story that belongs in both literature and history."—Doris Grumbach, Los Angeles Times Book Review

"What lingers at the end of A Coin in Nine Hands is the shadowiness and puppetlike vagueness of the Dictator, and the compelling specificity of the so-called 'common people' revolving all around him."—Anne Tyler, The New Republic

"Within a few pages we have met half the major characters in this haunting, brilliantly constructed novel. . . . The studied perfection, the structural intricacy and brevity remind one of Camus. Yet by comparison, Yourcenar's prose is lavish, emotional and imagistic."—Cynthia King, Houston Post

"Transcends its specific time and place to become a portrait of vividly delineated characters caught in the vise of a tragically familiar political situation."—Publisher's Weekly

Best known as the author of Memoirs of Hadrian and The Abyss, Marguerite Yourcenar (1903-87) achieved countless literary honors and was the first woman ever elected to the Académie Française.
 

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About the author (1994)

A French novelist, playwright, and essayist born in Belgium, Marguerite Yourcenar was a resident of the United States for many years, living in isolation on a small island off the coast of Maine. Educated at home by wealthy and cultured parents, she had a strong humanistic background, translating the ancient Greek poet Pindar and the poems of the modern Greek Constantine Cavafy. She has translated American Negro spirituals and works of Virginia Woolf (see Vol. 1) and Henry James (see Vol. 1). Her novels include Alexis (1929) and Coup de Grace (1939). A collection of poems, Fires, was published in 1936. Yourcenar is particularly known for Hadrian's Memoirs (1951), a philosophical meditation in the form of a fictional autobiography of the second-century Roman emperor. In Germaine Bree's judgment, "With great erudition and great psychological insight, Marguerite Yourcenar constructed a body of work that is a meditation on the destiny of mankind." In 1981, she became the first woman ever elected to the French Academy.

Dori Katz is professor emeritus of modern languages and literature at Trinity College, Hartford, CT. She is a translator of several books from the French and a poet. Her most recent collection of poems is Hiding in Other People's Houses. 

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