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In this fascinating journey Claudio Magris, whose knowledge is encyclopaedic and whose curiosity limitless, guides his reader from the river's source in the Bavarian hills through Austro-Hungary and the Balkans to the Black Sea. Along the way he raises the ghosts that inhabit the houses and monuments - from Ovid and Marcus Aurelius to Kafka and Canetti - and in so doing sets his finger on the pulse of Central Europe, the vital crucible of a culture that draws on influences of East and West, of Christendom and Islam.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9781860468230
ISBN-10: 1860468233
Format: Paperback
(198mm x 129mm x 26mm)
Pages: 416
Imprint: The Harvill Press
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Publish Date: 18-Jan-2001
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Reviews

UK Kirkus Review » In these troubled and consumer-led times, the average book has a limited shelf life, but this book, originally published in Italian in 1986, is dazzling both in its erudition and its prose style, and deserves to be with us forever. Despite the immense political changes that have occurred since 1986, the book has a lasting and universal appeal. Magris treats the mighty river Danube both as a geographical reality and as a symbol: his journey along it with his own little peregrinations away from and back to it, can be seen as a metaphor for life, one that is reinforced by the concluding line quoted at the Danube's mouth: 'Lord, let my death be like the flowing of a river into the great sea.' A good book makes life expand, and expansion is what this book achieves for the reader, concerned as it is with an absolute richness of material, and not just potamology, the study of rivers: history, literature, biography, ethnic groups and inter-cultural living, philosophy, metaphysics, and the sheer pleasure of travel are all included. Magris's thoughts are, in a sense, like the Danube's tributaries, adding to the main flow, with the river acting to stimulate his meditations on any number of subjects. Magris also makes the reader see that the only constant is nature, but that even such a mighty force as the river that links Europe and Asia does not necessarily remain the same. There is a welcome moral tone to this book; it is firmly anti-racist, contains a reiterated plea for toleration and the desirability of multi-cultural living, and includes the assertion that life is not the supreme value. A rich and rewarding read. (Kirkus UK)

US Kirkus Review » A discursive account of the geography, ethnology, history, and literature of the area of Europe through which the Danube surges along its way from Bavaria to the Black Sea. Magris (German Literature/Univ. of Trieste) uses the travel format as a frame for his speculations about matters as diverse as the anti-Semitism of Celine and the meaning of evil and nothingness. The trip proves heavy going all the way - with matters not helped by Magris' writing style. Labyrinthine sentences, arcane wordplay, recondite musings, abstruse bits of history confront the reader on nearly every page - e.g., describing the literary style of the obscure 18th-century writer Jean Paul as "that sinuous, uneven, exasperatingly convoluted turn of phrase in which Ladislao Mittner perceived an attempt to reproduce in syntax the mobile nexus of the One-All." For those steeped in the background of this little-known (at least to most Americans) corner of Europe, however, the work will offer stimulating and provocative insights. Magris considers the writings of Kafka and Freud, the philosophies of Wittgenstein and Marcus Aurelius, the histories of Belgrade and the Hapsburgs, and he does so with freshness and enthusiasm. Magris obviously has explored his material with nearly obsessive thoroughness, but has unfortunately chosen to approach his subject in a stream-of-consciousness manner. One topic suggests another, and the text meanders as willfully as the river that is its protagonist. (Kirkus Reviews)


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Author Biography - Claudio Magris

Claudio Magris, born in 1939, is an Italian scholar, translator and writer. He is a graduate of the University of Turin, where he studied Germanistics, and has been professor of Modern German Literature at the University of Trieste since 1978. He is an essayist and columnist for the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera and for other European journals and newspapers. Professor Magris is a member of several European academies and served as senator in the Italian Senate from 1994 to 1996. His novels include Danube, A Different Sea and Microcosms. Magris won the Strega Prize in 1998 for Danube. He was also awarded the Erasmus prize 2001 and a Prince of Asturias Awards for Literature in 2004. On 31 July 2006 Austria awarded its annual state prize for European literature to Magris.

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