Andrew Crumey: Beethoven’s Assassins

The latest addition to my website is Andrew Crumey‘s Beethoven’s Assassins.

This is a brilliant novel which is nominally about Beethoven (the composer) but is also about lots of other things. Crumey tells a host of stories, often featuring historical characters, some from Beethoven’s era and some from the UK, some modern, some not. We start with Beethoven’s death as recounted by his sister-in-law – the two disliked one another – which is not strictly historically accurate and may not be recounted by the sister-in-law. It gets more complicated as we follow the goings-on at a remote country house near Berwick-on-Tweed. with three tales, separated by a hundred years in each case, all with some relevance to Beethoven, but all with their own mysteries, as well as the story of one of the attendees, a Scottish philosopher, who is struggling with ageing parents, who is to write about Beethoven and who compares his relation with his father to that of Beethoven. All of these and other stories interconnect with one another and with Beethoven as Crumey veers off on subsidiary stories such as that of the very real J. W. N. Sullivan and the various characters he knew and the various mysterious deaths at this country house. It is all very complicated and superbly done as Crumey delves into physics, philosophy, Beethoven’s (alleged) opera about assassins, conspiracy theories and pseudo-science/alternative philosophy. Nothing is as it seems and. everything is allowed.

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