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The Prestige

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The Prestige is a 1995 novel by British writer Christopher Priest. The novel is epistolary in structure; that is, it purports to be a collection of real diaries that were kept by the protagonists and later collated. The title derives from the novel's fictional practice of stage illusions having three parts: the setup, the performance, and the prestige (effect).


Alfred Borden and Rupert "Robbie" Angier rise to become world-renowned stage magicians. Early in their careers, they meet and a bitter feud develops as they ruin the other's acts. The frame story involves the great-grandchildren of Borden and Angier and their investigations into how their own lives have been affected by their ancestors' conflict. The events of the past are revealed primarily through each of the magicians' diaries.

Borden develops an act called The Transported Man, and an improved version named The New Transported Man, which appears to move him from one closed cabinet to another in the blink of an eye and without appearing to pass through the intervening space. The act seems to defy physics and puts all previous acts to shame. Over the course of the diaries we learn Alfred Borden is actually identical twin brothers, Albert and Frederick[2]. Both men are living the life of Alfred, committed to maintaining their secret to ensure their professional success with The New Transported Man. Angier suspects that Borden uses a double but dismisses the idea when he cannot find evidence to prove it.

Unable to discern the method that Borden uses, Angier desperately tries to equal him, and with the help of the acclaimed physicist Nikola Tesla, develops an act named In A Flash, which has a similar result, though a starkly different method.

Film adaption

A motion picture adaptation, directed by Christopher Nolan, was released on October 20, 2006 in the United States. It stars Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman as Borden and Angier respectively, as well as Michael Caine, Scarlett Johansson and David Bowie.


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