- The Magic Christian (novel)
name = The Magic Christian
image_caption = First edition cover
language = English
Andre DeutschLtd (orig.) Grove Press(1996)
release_date = 1959
media_type = Print (Hardback &
pages = 148 pp
isbn = NA & reissue ISBN 0-8021-3465-3
Flash and Filigree
Writers in Revolt
"The Magic Christian" is a 1959
comic novelby U.S. author Terry Southern. In 1969 the novel was made into a film starring Peter Sellersand Ringo Starr, by director Joseph McGrath, also titled "The Magic Christian". The novel is also known for bringing Southern to the attention to Stanley Kubrick, who had received a copy as a gift from Peter Sellers, and subsequently hired him as co-writer for " Dr. Strangelove" when Kubrick decided to make it a comedy film.Terry Southern, [http://www.visual-memory.co.uk/amk/doc/0081.html "Notes from The War Room"] , "Grand Street", issue #49]
Guy Grand is an eccentric billionaire who spends most of his time playing elaborate practical jokes on people. A big spender, he does not mind losing large sums of money to complete strangers if only he can have a good laugh. All his escapades are designed to prove his theory that everyone has got their price — it just depends on the amount one is prepared to pay them. Episodic in character, "The Magic Christian" is an unrelenting and sometimes heavy-handed satire on capitalism and human greed.
For example, Grand pays the actor playing a surgeon in a live television soap opera to deviate from the script, comment in drastic terms on the bad quality of the show, and walk off the set. In another episode, he secretly buys a respectable New York advertising agency, installs a pygmy as its president and has him "scurry about the offices like a squirrel and chatter raucously in his native tongue" in front of all the top executive staff and their prominent clients. In a third, he buys a cosmetics company and launches a big promotional campaign for a new shampoo which, as it turns out in the end, has a very detrimental effect on those who happen to use it. He also shows up at a safari in Africa with three natives carrying a
howitzer. Grand's final adventure takes place on board the "S.S. Magic Christian".
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