"In Malcolm Bradbury's virtuoso novel of intellectual pursuit, narrator and subject are at opposite poles of the universe of letters. Urbane, polymathic, multilingual, Doctor Bazlo Criminale, man from nowhere, citizen of the world, is a mega-star in the cultural firmament - a critic, novelist, playwright, and philosopher published, quoted, and feted in every corner of the globe, around which he seems to be in endless transit. He is the embodiment of the modern European philosopher, the "Great Thinker of the Age of Glasnost."" "Naive, anonymous, provincial, Francis Jay has ambitions only to break into the modern media. When he's asked to research a TV documentary on Bazlo Criminale, he steps into a world as far outside his experience as it is beyond his comprehension. It should be a simple matter of research. Criminale's life has been conducted in print, but television's demands are more immediate: the media need to know what Criminale looks like, where he comes from, who he sleeps with, why he matters. Above all, the camera is greedy for locations, and since Criminale is a master at attending conventions, locations there are in plenty, all across Europe and on either side of where the Iron Curtain once ran. But the mystery of Bazlo Criminale only increases: the more information Jay manages to assemble, the less it seems to fit. Dates and data multiply into contradiction, gaps expand into lacunae, and Francis discovers that Criminale is every bit as easy to lose as he is difficult to locate. As he grows more to like the man, Jay increasingly comes to discover that the gaps may conceal evasions, compromises, and betrayals on the literary, intellectual, and political levels that his own postmodern existence has not yet equipped him to understand."
"In a dazzling comedy that polarizes to an altogether darker shade, Malcolm Bradbury uses abrasive satire to open up the unyielding central dilemma: whether, how, and at what price the mind of modern man can keep one step ahead of history."--Jacket.