["Shibumi"] is certainly not the kind of book that is bought to impress oneself or one's friends. Its popularity is, however, something of a puzzle.
"Shibumi" is a curiously old-fashioned novel. It often brings to mind such picaresque melodramas of the past as "Anthony Adverse" and "Scaramouche." Trevanian's elegant Anthony Adverse, his brilliant Scaramouche, is one Nicholai Alexandrovitch Hel, born in Shanghai in the nineteen-twenties of a White Russian mother and a German father, and raised and molded in wartime Japan. He is immediately perceived to be a superior being. Some of his excellence he owes to his mother's early influence: "One spoke of love and other...
(The entire section is 500 words.)