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The Shaving of Shagpat

George Meredith

Book Overview: 

The novel is a humorous oriental romance and allegory written in the style of the Arabian Nights. Like its model, it includes a number of stories within the story, along with poetic asides.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .Twill surprise him!' And she robed herself in a robe of saffron, and set lesser gems of the diamond and the emerald in the braid of her hair, and knotted the Serpent Jewel firmly in a band of gold-threaded tissue, and had it woven in her hair among the braids. In this array she awaited his coming, and pleased her mind with picturing his astonishment and the joy that would be his. Mute were the women who waited on her, for in their lives they had seen no such sight as Bhanavar beneath the beams of the Jewel, and the whole chamber was aglow with her.

Now, in her anxiety she sent them one and one repeatedly to look forth at the window for the coming of the Prince. So, when he came not she went herself to look forth, and stretched her white neck beyond the casement. While her head was exposed, she heard a cry of some one from the house in the street opposite, and Bhanavar beheld in the house of the broker an old wrinkled fellow that gesticulated to her in a frenzy.. . . Read More

Community Reviews

A charming Arabian Nights fantasy in which a barber discovers he is the chosen one destined to carry out the title feat and remove a mystic talisman of great power from Shagpat's hirsute face. Lush, colorful language adds to the fun, though Meredith (whose previous book had been poetry) has a few...more

150 year old Arabian Nights pastiche -- almost unreadably florid prose. To quote from the very first page:

Now, the story of Shibli Bagarag, and of the ball he followed, and of the subterranean kingdom he came to, and of the enchanted palace he entered, and of the sleeping king he shaved, and of t...more

Interesting Victorian psychedelia, at times wearying in its Arabian Nights conceit, but on the whole surprisingly entertaining.

"…for the mastery of an Event lasteth among men the space of one cycle of years, and after that a fresh Illusion springeth to befool mankind, and the Seven must expend t...more

this is my first reading of anything george meredith has written and so far so good. this was an enjoyable, light fiction well worth my time but then i enjoy literature that lasts. good summer reading.

Noorna-bin-Noorka is Shibli's HGA. She helps him fulfill his true will. When Shibli deviates from her guidance he gets thwacked. That is my Thelemic perspective on the book.

Filled with wild, magical imagery. I really enjoyed this book but found it difficult to follow. The baroque/comic Arabian Nights language can be hard to unravel but definitely worth the effort.

"O Youth, thou hast been thwacked!"

It's lines like that which convinced me to read this. I like the whole "Arabian Nights" style - the story-within-a-story, although this only happens twice, if I remember correctly (which is okay, the s-w-a-s thing usually gets taken too far no! whatever you do,...more