The House of the Prophet
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The protagonist of this major new novel is a celebrated lawyer and political commentator. Felix Leit-ner's career—as advisor to presidents, brain-truster with the Justice Department, author of influential books on constitutional law and international politics, and Pulitzer-winning columnist—unfolds amid the pivotal issues and events of half a century. Its distinguishing characteristic is his unswerving commitment to intellectual truth, which often brings him to unpopular stands but which lends him, in the eyes of millions, the stature of an oracle. To tell Felix's larger-than-life story, Louis Auchincloss returns to the mode of fictional biography that produced his masterful portrait The Rector of Justin. Like that earlier classic, The House of the Prophet reveals its subject through the eyes of both his admirers and detractors; here the several narrators include Felix's two ex-wives, his stepdaughter, and a former law partner. The biographer and principal narrator is Roger Cutter, Felix's longtime research assistant and protege. With Felix now in his eighties and dying by degrees in a nursing home, Roger—for complex personal motives as much as for posterity's sake—resolves to compile an intimate chronicle of his mentor's life. The portrait that takes shape from Roger's memories, from documents g willingly or reluctantly supplied by Felix's family and associates, and from Felix's own accounts, is that of a man whose lifelong aim has been to stay free of any ties that might impinge on his quest for truth, be they emotional, religious, patriotic, or even humanitarian. Was Felix, then, a heartless egotist or a saint? And did his integrity justify the human toll it exacted? These questions—and above all, the central paradox of a man obsessed with truth but about whom there are many "truths"—remain for Roger and his readers to ponder. The House of the Prophet is Auchincloss's most powerful and ambitious novel in more than a decade, a penetrating, full-depth character study with a rich supporting cast and scenes that range from New York and Paris to a resort colony in Maine, from Georgetown dinner parties to an idyllic barge trip through the south of France. All are drawn with the unerring Auchincloss touch, and his portrait of Felix Leitner stands with The Rector of Justin as one of his greatest achievements.
Published: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on
ISBN: 9780547790527
List price: $10.95
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