ENTLEMAN IN WAITING by Andre Couteaux

ENTLEMAN IN WAITING

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KIRKUS REVIEW

From France (where it was highly successful) this extended jeu d'esprit is typically, temperamentally Gallic, and its archetype, the picaresque parasite, has its classical paternity well established from Gil Blas down through the centuries. M. Couteaux' rascal is one Antoine, whose grandfather leaves him penniless but with one legacy- the thought that ""laziness allows our natural virtues to... grow in a divine freedom"". In Antoine, the theorem blossoms well and to good effect: he eschews all honest toil, first in Paris where he secures entree to a wealthy world through the funeral of a street casualty. From living on nothing, scrounging, sleeping all day and alternating with two girls at night, he goes on to travel. Eventually he reaches India where idleness is ""only the antechamber of contemplation"". As he lies under a banyan tree, pilgrims come to view and worship, and finally a maharajah claims him, eventually to leave him a kingdom on earth... Antoine, the philosopher, the ""rationalized beggar"", the opportunist, the sublime rogue, is a lively exponent of one of the deadly sins and this satiric fable has a true intellectual sophistication and abortive nonchalance.

Pub Date: June 4th, 1963
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin