THE MOUNTEBANK'S TALE by Michael Redgrave


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An English actor's first novel plays its story on an inner stage for the narrative of St. John Fielding, a perfectionist with an obsession for the acting profession (he was also a historian, explorer) is presented by the executor of Fielding's estate. It has to do with Joseph Charles, acclaimed on the Continent, in America -- and in England, who has disappeared, and Fielding, following the clue of a photograph, tracks him down in California where the revelation of his long apprenticeship to the real Joseph Charles, the years of becoming better than -- but lacking the integrity of -- his master, and eventually the pact that made Paul Hammer become a permanent impostor, winds up -- but does not truly conclude the exhibition of a doppelganger. A first problem -- whether an actor has any character at all -- is finally not faced although English Paul, from servant parents, intimates that he has hidden his real self in the shadow of the Austrian Joseph Charles, but story-wise this, leaving much unaccented, holds its own for a tantalizing theatrical double portrait. A selected few will be most appreciative here.

Pub Date: May 25th, 1960
Publisher: Harper