This tale of an ambitious inventor in France as the Revolution looms is “brilliantly playful … full of lore and lewdness” (Chicago Tribune).
“A portrait of a young mechanical genius in 18th-century France, delivered along with a gallimaufry of odd and intriguing facts and a rich, lusty picture of society in that time and place. ” —Publishers Weekly
In France, on the eve of the Revolution, a young man named Claude Page sets out to become the most ingenious and daring inventor of his time. Over the course of a career filled with violence and passion, Claude learns the arts of enameling and watchmaking from an irascible, defrocked abbé, then apprentices himself to a pornographic bookseller and applies his erotic erudition to the seduction of the wife of an impotent wigmaker.
But it is Claude’s greatest device—a talking mechanical head—that both crowns his career and leads to an execution as tragic as that of Marie Antoinette, and far more bizarre.
“Like a joint effort by Henry Fielding and John Barth” (Chicago Tribune), this “captivating novel” (San Francisco Chronicle) marked the debut of one of the finest literary artists of our time.
“A Case of Curiosities … really is brilliant. Also witty, learned, ingenious, sly, and bawdy. ” —Entertainment Weekly
“What John Fowles did for the 19th century with The French Lieutenant’s Woman and Umberto Eco did for the 14th with The Name of the Rose … Kurzweil now does for the late 18th century. ” —San Francisco Chronicle