Ship of Fools

Ship of Fools

by Katherine Anne Porter

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The story takes place in the summer of 1931, on board a cruise ship bound for Germany. Passengers include a Spanish noblewoman, a drunken German lawyer, an American divorcee, a pair of Mexican Catholic priests. This ship of fools is a crucible of intense experience, out of which everyone emerges forever changed. Rich in incident, passion, and treachery, the novel explores themes of nationalism, cultural and ethnic pride, and basic human frailty that are as relevant today as they were when the book was first published in 1962.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780451060839
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
Publication date: 09/01/1963
Product dimensions: 7.00(w) x 5.00(h) x 1.00(d)

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Ship of Fools 3.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of my favorite books. Some people who write reviews on this site should simply sit on their hands and not so clearly reveal their ignorance to the world.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the only novel by Katherine Anne Porter, the first professional writer from the state of Texas. Her skills of elaborate description and character development may overwhelm the casual reader; but there is fertile ground for multiple adventures between the covers of Ship of Fools. A Texas bigot embarks on his journey of exploitation of the world's oil ports and brothels. The widow of a German owner of a Cuban sugar plantation is forced into exile following the collapse of the world's sugar market. A conflicted love between two young painters, one burdoned with supporting the other who is mired in telling the story of the oppressed proletariat.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was young when the book was published and lauded. Finally got around to reading it on a Nook for a buck. Had to skim most of it to finish. Boring. I suspect it had more resonance for the WWII generation. Like Ayn Rand:s novels. An obscured simple message.
jwhenderson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Ship of Fools, a novel by Katherine Anne Porter, was published in 1962 on April 1 (April Fools' Day). It is the tale of a group of disparate characters, from several different countries and backgrounds, who sail from Mexico to Germany aboard a mixed freighter and passenger ship. In her note prefacing the novel Porter notes that :When I began thinking about my novel, I took for my own this simple almost universal image of the ship of this world on its voyage to eternity. It is by no means new -- I am a passenger on that ship. (p. 1)The ironic epigraph for the first section of the novel, from Baudelaire, is "Quand partons-nous vers le bonheur?". On the very first line of the novel, however, we see a truer sign of what is to come, as the port city of Veracruz is described as "a little purgatory'. Soon the ship that sails becomes just that for the passengers in this complex tale. The ship is populated with a grand complement of passengers (so many that the publisher thoughtfully included a listing of characters preceding the novel proper, xi - xiii). While the majority are Germans there are Americans, Swiss, Spaniards and others, including the masses in steerage.Porter deftly weaves the stories of each of the several couples and individuals who can each be seen as on a journey into hell as their passions simmer during the voyage. Episodes are encapsulated within the frame of embarkation and disembarkation where characters are presented in their interactions with one another during the voyage, and histories and relationships of several dozen are explored extensively. It takes less than a month in the year of 1931, but the end of the decade and the war it will bring seems to be foreshadowed in some of the tensions that develop during the story.While leavened with comic moments, it was the presence of love and death and, unfortunately, not a little inhumanity that impressed me the most. The pessimism sometimes seems to be overwhelming and her satire suggests the rise of Nazism and looks metaphorically at the progress of the world on its "voyage to eternity". The sum of the multiplicity of moments and personal details is a tapestry of life that results in a great novel.
plenilune on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In Ship of Fools Porter created and managed dozens of detailed, utterly flawed characters engaged in the tedious everyday minutiae of lives in suspension. This is a nuanced portrait of a time and its people, largely ignorant of the future into which they are cornering themselves. There is as much or more between the lines as there is in the words and minds of each passenger and staffperson on the ship. This is a writer's novel, a tough read but recommended. Anyone with a gift for or a love of fiction will recognize the exquisite craft of the author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book with my book club, it was well written and certainly gave us plenty to talk about but I had to force myself to finish the book. Had it not been for book club I would have put it down after the first 100 pages.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
The book was supposed to be a moral allegory and it was anything but that. Porter bounces from one character to the next.