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Traveler of the Century
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Traveler of the Century

3.84 of 5 stars 3.84  ·  rating details  ·  742 ratings  ·  110 reviews
Searching for an inn, the enigmatic traveler Hans stops in a small city on the border between Saxony and Prussia. The next morning, Hans meets an old organ-grinder in the market square and immediately finds himself enmeshed in an intense debate—on identity and what it is that defines us—from which he cannot break free.

Indefinitely stuck in Wandernburg until his debate with
Hardcover, 576 pages
Published April 24th 2012 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published 2009)
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traveler of the century is an exquisite, dazzling work of fiction. its author, andrés neuman, is a young argentinian writer, born in 1977, whose relative youth is belied by a remarkably prodigious literary output. neuman has written nearly twenty distinct works, including four novels, nine books of poetry (a tenth compiles them), four short story collections, a book of essays, and a book of aphorisms (in addition to his translations of german poet wilhelm müller). his writing has been celebrated ...more
Imagine a bucolic village, one of relative isolation and which strangely defies the laws of location and time. Insert an urbane protagonist. Should we allow a masked nemesis? No, I am not referring to Hot Fuzz, fine film it is but rather than that the novel Traveler of the Century by Andres Neuman. This is the first of Neuman's works to be translated and it appears to offer the hubris on an early effort. There are two or three amazing aspects on display. ...more
Ned Rifle
I have been trying to get round to reviewing the books I have read in the past year but find it all too easy to do for books I did not enjoy. Possibly this is because with those books I am fairly comfortable believing that what has faded of the book is probably of even less importance than what I remember whereas with books that I very much enjoyed what is gone seems like the greater part.

It would seem I would have all I could wish for: a man called Hans who, planning only to stay a short whi
This new novel by Andres Neuman, Traveler of the Century, is the type of book I enjoy -- a novel of ideas. But in this case it is also a love story of sorts, and the author comments on history and politics in addition to his decided interest in philosophy. In other words it is what any good novel of ideas should be, along book that is both challenging and imaginative. While the American edition from Farrar, Straus and Giroux has a Picasso on the dust jacket, the story is set in the 19th century. ...more
Traveller of the Century, of all the books shortlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, is the most seductive. At nearly 600 pages it’s a long novel, but from the outset the reader is captivated by two imperatives: will Hans win his lady-love away from the richest man in town? And will Hans the inveterate traveller become entrapped in Wandernburg, just like everybody else?

There’s a Kafkaesque quality to the novel: the city itself has no fixed topography and its streets and buildings mo
Algunos de nuestros escritores en español pueden sumergirse en épocas o geografías que no pertenecen a sus propios ámbitos y pueden describir con cierto verismo desde las emociones hasta las vestimentas de sus personajes. El problema mayor es quizá que no siempre logran trascender los personajes y ese revestimiento caricatural le resta verosimilitud a la trama. Una sutil atmósfera mágica le sirve de marco a esta novela. Las cópulas felizmente vividas entre traducciones y libros, con pinceladas d ...more
Finished after midnight and woke up thinking what a great opera this would make. Aura of Faust, wavering time and place, hurdy-gurdy harmonics, complex love triangle, grotto, sex--what more do you need? And wonderful parts for men and women of all ages. There are creative possibilities for the translation scenes--they would be fabulous in multiple-language duets for Hans and Sophie. All set in early 19th century contention between Classicism and Romanticism, labor and capital, agrarianism and te ...more
Robert Wechsler
A 4.5. I originally decided to read this novel because the protagonist is a literary translator (see the thread in the Loosed in Translation discussion group). Unlike most novels about translators, this one, at least starting halfway through, actually deals with literary translation in an interesting way. Especially the combining of sex and translation. In an interview Neuman quotes someone saying, "Translation is sexy!" and then goes on to say himself, "So there is also a deep link between inte ...more
The novel presents with a relatively straightforward premise: Some time in the first third (or so) of the 19th Century, Hans (no last name), ostensibly an itinerant translator, stops off for the night in the mysterious Wandernburg and ends up remaining for seasons, embroiling himself in an affair with an intellectual beauty (with the cliched name of Sophie), and making friends with an odd collection of townsfolk. While things do technically "happen" in the novel (the aforementioned affair for ex ...more
World Literature Today
"Andrés Neuman’s Traveler of the Century reflects Latin America’s 'total novel,' brutally examining all aspects of society through diverse yet overlapping themes." - Leigh Cuen, Tel Aviv

This book was reviewed in the September 2012 issue of World Literature Today. You can read the full review at the WLT website:
Lo Intenté, leía, leía, leía, leía, y finalmente no pude más, no pude encontrar en el libro algo que me llevara a seguir leyendo, miré el separador de páginas y le dije adiós a Hans, Sophie, el organillero y su aburrida historia.
When you open up Traveler of the Century, you are introduced to the city of Wandernburg through the eyes of the protagonist, Hans. It’s a strange city, and we are told that it seems to shift around each time Hans explores the city. Even though he only meant to stop briefly before moving on to his destination, Hans feels a strange pull to put off his departure continuously. During this time, he gets acquainted with the denizens of Wandernburg. My favorite of these is the organ grinder, whom I ado ...more
Chad Post
When I was about two-thirds of the way through Neuman's very ambitious, very engrossing novel, Bromance Will Evans asked me what I thought the purpose the rapist had in this book. Not who the rapist was--something that's held in suspense until almost the end of the book--but why he was even in there.

For the last 150 pages I thought about this and interpreted everything that happened in the book through this lens--what purpose does the rapist serve? And in the end, I think I came up with a reaso
Even as I read the literary reviews on this book it seems like exactly what I'd like to read. Unfortunately it is too long, boring, and tedious. It's a novel about love, place, friendship, and running from one's personal history. But Hans remained for a full year in this tiny German town for love and friendship. He finds a lover and two good friends and spends an afternoon a week debating acquaintances at his lover's salon. I enjoy talking about politics, literature, art, religion, and languages ...more
Bill Wells
What a wonderful book! Witty, thoughtful and at times quite funny, with characters that I loved spending time with. It is a long slow read, but in a sense that you don't wish the story to end.
The language is beautiful and descriptive, but in a way that is very human. It is great literature in the same class as "Madame Bovary" and "100 Years of Solitude" which I am sure I will read again and again.
Terry Pearce
This is a beautiful and strange book. It reminds me of GK Chesterton, and of Italo Calvino, and maybe a little of Jorge Luis Borges... it never seems entirely real, but at the same time it manages to be a fable that is about what real life is all about. By the end I didn't want to end, which says something with a 600+ pager.
I picked this book up on a lark at Green Apple Books, in a fit of job-quitting disattachment and more than a bit of wanderlust. It was a fantastic read, and I'm waiting for the right occasion to loan my copy to a friend.
I loved this book. You can see my review of it here:
Carmen Corral
"El viajero del siglo" es la inevitable tropicalización del "Rojo y Negro" de Stendhal con una pizca de "El amante de lady Chatterley" de DH Lawrence (ambos clásicos infinitamente mejores que este pseudo-híbrido). La gran deficiencia se encuentra en el pobre desarrollo de los personajes (a pesar del enorme volúmen de esta novela), quienes claramente representan *algo*, pero no a ALGUIEN.
Decepcionante y sobrevalorado (no comprendo porque ha sido acreedor a tanto premio). El mérito de "El viajero
El viajero del siglo es un ambicioso experimento. Propone volver a mirar el siglo XIX con la perspectiva del XXI. Buscando una posada para pasar la noche, Hans detiene su coche de caballos en Wandernburgo, una ciudad entre Sajonia y Prusia. Se queda un día más y, al siguiente en la Plaza del Mercado, se fija en un anciano que toca el organillo.

Emocionado por la música, se acerca a dejarle una propina y a conversar con él. Pronto entablan amistad y la estancia de Hans se alarga indefinidamente.
Parrish Lantern
Hans is an adventurer and translator of literature, never staying long in one place, he is on his way to Dessau, but tired he chooses to stop off for the night in the mysterious city of Wandernburg, fully intent on leaving first thing the next day. Waking late the next morning, he steps out into a city full of the days hustle & bustle, he decides to explore and wanders aimlessly around the city, occasionally loosing his bearings. The day passes without him realising it & he misses his co ...more
Katy Derbyshire
I've put this novel aside. It's a very interesting look at a bunch of hipsters hanging in a cave and a literary salon in post-1815 Germany (some time before 1871 and probably before 1848, anyway). And then the guy gets it together with the girl and they do some sexy translation talk. I don't know what happens after that; there may be a sort of thinly spread murder or political plot I didn't manage to follow, or indeed some magic involved. I skipped quite a lot to the sex scenes, some of which ar ...more
Samuél Barrantes
This is a fantastic novel. The love story and the dialogue are especially memorable, but with the exception of some dense philosophical passages (which are still a pleasure for those who like it), this novel flows perfectly despise the page count. Here's a favorite passage: “When I was young, because I was young once like you, I heard many organ grinders play, and I can assure you no two tunes ever sounded the same, even on the same instrument. That’s how it is, isn’t it? The less love you put i ...more
Eloy Eduardo
Al principio, después de enterarme de un resumen de la trama de esta novela, estuve dudando si la empezaba o no. Pero una vez lo hice me agarró como pocas obras, y la leí como uno lo hace con textos especiales: que no puedes ponerlos a un lado y encargarte de la lectura de otra cosa, lo cual me sucede a menudo hoy en día. Excelente.
I enjoyed Traveler of the Century, although I do not think that it is a book that most people would enjoy. The story describes a mysterious traveler who comes to a small town in Europe, Wandernburg. Though he has never stayed in one place for more than a few days, he ends up getting drawn into this town for much longer than expected, making all sorts of unlikely friends. Many nights are spent in a literary salon where the different characters get into long philosophical debates about any number ...more
A love story, a mystery, a book of ideas. The story is set in a German town , Wandernburg, in the 19th Century. Hans, an inveterate traveller, finds that he cannot leave. At first it seems literal - with weird misdirections that cause him to miss his train. However he soon meets an organ grinder whose simple life and mystic philosophy enchant him, and he becomes enchanted by Sophie who is extraordinarily intelligent and fiercely independent. The story revolves around two gatherings - one in a ca ...more
Σπύρος Γλύκας
‘ Ο ταξιδιώτης του αιώνα’ (El viajero del siglo) είναι ένα μυθιστόρημα του 19 αιώνα, γραμμένο τον 21ο (2009). Ο Hans είναι ένας περιπλανώμενος μεταφραστής που καταλήγει μια νύχτα σε μια μικρή γερμανική πόλη όπου θα συναντήσει και θα ερωτευθεί την Σοφί, μια δυναμική γυναίκα με καλλιτεχνικές ανησυχίες η οποία είναι ήδη λογοδοσμένη σε ένα πλούσιο ευγενή χωρίς τις ανάλογες ευαισθησίες. Απλοϊκό θα μπορούσε να πει κανείς, χιλιογραμμένο στην βασική του ιδέα επίσης. Μονάχα που εδώ ο τρόπος είναι αυτό πο ...more
Andrew Doran
As a love story, this book is brilliant. The romance at the centre of the book is so well described—it doesn't just linger in the world of fairytales but also presents a reality of how people behave both alone and with each other as their relationship begins and develops.

I found the book a little difficult to follow in the dazzling array of literary references the characters made when conversing with one another, but this didn't make it any less enjoyable.

In terms of downsides the only things fo
This was an interesting read. Hans, on his way to somewhere else in Germany, gets off the coach to spend the night in Wandernburg and doesn't leave for months. Why? First, he meets the poverty-stricken organ grinder who becomes almost a father figure for him. Second, he falls in love with Sophie, who is engaged to Rudi, son of the wealthest family in town. There are five parts to the book. The first three move very slowly, as Hans and Sophie's and Hans and the Organ Grinders's relationships deve ...more
i loved this book reminded me in feeling not the story line of MARK HELPRIN,S "A WINTERS TALE". there seems to be something strange and magical going on underneath the novel and though your expecting some kind of explanation you get none but that somehow makes the mystery don't need an explanation ,the world is a strange place theres lots of history here we are in 1820,s europe and philosophy and sex too..the writing flows easily ,its a delicious read …thats all i want to say ab ...more
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Hijo de músicos argentinos exiliados (de madre violinista, de origen ítalo-español, y padre oboísta, de origen judío alemán), tiene la ciudadanía argentina y española. La historia novelada de su familia, infancia argentina y ancestros europeos puede leerse en su libro Una vez Argentina. A los catorce años se trasladó a Granada, donde realizó sus estudios secundarios, obtuvo la licenciatura en Filo ...more
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“We lose the fear of letting go of our baggage, but also the certainty that what is in them belongs to us.” 9 likes
“It's the same with books, you see mounds of them in bookshops and you want to read them all, or at least to have a taste of them. You think you could be missing out on something important, you see them and they intrigue you, they tempt you, they tell you how insignificant your life is and how tremendous it could be.” 8 likes
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