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1977), a massive and baroque novel of nearly 800 pages and incorporating such classic historical and fictional characters as Don Quijote, La Celestina, and King Philip II of Spain, was clearly intended as a major work along the lines of Joyce, Proust, and Mann; and although it did earn the author several distinguished prizes, most critics and readers felt its obvious merits (inventiveness, imagination, wide erudition) to be outweighed by its unrelenting solemnity, its numbing compendiousness, and its sheer excess - of length, of allusion, of fancy, of pedantry.
As a retired professor of anthropology at the University of Amsterdam, Grump can afford to indulge his fondness for breadth and compendiousness, but by his own admission this book can't live up to its title.