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Het boek der herinneringen

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4.1 of 5 stars 4.10  ·  rating details  ·  206 ratings  ·  37 reviews
A Book of Memories is a novel within a novel. The outer shell of Hungarian author Peter Nadas's ambitious tale concerns a nameless Hungarian writer and his ménage à trois with an aging actress and a younger man in East Germany. While the contemporary writer's own story unfolds, he is busily at work on an historical novel about a German novelist named Thomas Thoenissen. As ...more
839 pages
Published 1993 by Van Gennep (first published 1986)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,692)
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Cheryl
I might recommend LESSNESS in contrast to the EXCESS of Peter Nadas' writing in what is considered a masterpiece of twentieth-century consciousness under totalitarian regimes with observations of sexuality outside of society's rigid dictates.

Madas' book is known for brevity, but the opposite of flash fiction defined as one sentence or page, essays, or parables. A further contrast to shorter presentations is what I thought while reading multiple observations of physical desire which finally felt
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knig
This lyrical montage of random musings, ostensibly grouped under the veneer of memories, is not for the faint of heart. One has to be imbued with self recriminations, patchworked of doubt, second guessing and depressive threads to fully appreciate this torturous journey of self exploration into the disarray of a twisted soul.

Looking out a window, or contemplating another human being can take up whole chapters: time splinters into a multi-temporal glissando, defying any culture specific zeitgeis
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Sam
Let's talk about excess.

I suppose that most of us who read whatever the world has come to label "literary fiction" have some stomach for excess, that we aren't satisfied with a book that trims language and scene down to the minimal unless that minimal is so razor-sharp (James Cain, for example) that you start to notice it as a trick in-and-of-itself. (An excess of minimalism?) And there's no surer sign of philistinism than when someone says they just want their books to get "straight to the poin
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rebecca
Mar 05, 2007 rebecca rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: eastern-europeanphiles, proust-lovers
This is one of those Proustian let's-write-about-how-the-tea-stain-on-the-doily-reminds-me-of-my -dead-father kind of books. But I love it. There are a lot of central-european themes of displacement and nostalgia, issues of fatherhood/nationhood, and more things that require me to use a lot of dashes to describe them. I cried a lot when I was reading this, but I can't tell you what about--it's just one of those things.
Allen
This book almost ruined literature for me- it was really that good. Other novels seemed halfhearted and pithy by comparison. It's a tough book, both from the style standpoint of three chronologically separated stories happening throughout the text, and also from the content.
Brent Hayward
A young Hungarian esthete moves to Berlin, just before the wall comes down, and spends a serious amount of time walking about the city, alone or with an aquaintance, reminiscing about childhood friends and his picaresque family. Eventually he retreats into the home of two elderly spinsters to write a novel, or some form of manuscript, in which the protagonist, an Hungarian esthete, spends a lot of time reminiscing and similarly perambulating. The chapters of both are interspersed and melded toge ...more
Nick
There are parts of this book that are 4-star. There are parts of this book that are 2-star. There is no part of this book that is middle-of-the-road 3 stars!

The book is long -- over 700 pages -- and is basically all memoir. But who's? The narrators (and there are three different ones for each of the three sections of the book) are all writers telling you stories from diffeerent times of their lives, as well as from the lives of characters they are writing about. But they are all purposefully unc
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Isla McKetta
This is a book I wish I could have inhabited--spent weeks with in a dusty dacha as I parsed out its story lines and mulled over his sentences. It is written that Nadas spent eleven years writing this book and I can believe it. The prose is beautiful and even when I was lost, I was glad to be inside of it. In the end as the strands of stories wove together, I heard echoes of their earlier forms and it made me want to read the book all over again. This book is a great instructor in handling time a ...more
Tommy
Long, rambling, and too sentimental for my taste. This took me longer to get through than usual, and I had to keep struggling to pick it back up. After reading some other works in between I finally finished it. The characters were so narcissistic and closed off from the world around them, it could be really annoying at times. Lots of ego and Freudian ideas throughout the plot, and the attempt to sort of draw it together at the end fell way short in my mind. I love Eastern European work and was r ...more
Rose Gowen
I wrote an appreciation of this book for The Rumpus:

http://therumpus.net/2011/08/rose-gow...
Vladimir
It deserves more stars than Goodreads will let me give.
David
I think I enjoyed this one more than "Parallel Stories," though I think the latter was perhaps more sophisticated. The aspect I think I enjoyed best was the mirroring between the relationships, the reflections between the live triangles of the parents as well as those of both childhood and adulthood for the narrator. These have similar interesting juxtapositions to the reflections between the narrator and his childhood friend. Regardless, this is a meaty novel, going as deep as the reader wants ...more
Joe Salas
Laying in bed reading this book conjures up such pleasant recollections of being in Cape Cod. I spent a lot of time in the bus station at Hyannis, waiting for the next bus to Provincetown, my nose buried in "A Book of Memories". I had nothing else to do at the time.

My last morning in Hyannis, the tall blond fellow I shared rooms with at the hostel came into the bus station as well. It was strange, as I never really talked to the guy. Even though our sharing of the same physical space seemed so i
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wally
1st from nádas for me...a book of memories, paperback, 706 pages...translated from the hungarian by ivan sanders with imre goldstein...penguin books.

an "author's note"...it is my pleasant duty to state that what i have written is not my own memoirs. i have written a novel, the recollections of several people separated by time, somewhat in the fashion of Plutarch's, Parallel Lives Vol. 1..."

curious, in light of my recent read just finished, The Floating Opera...that includes adam's original &
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Christl
Fängt wunderbar an. Mäandert dann… in Sprache und Kontext… Natürlich: Erinnerung… Hat mir jetzt beinahe das Bücherlesen verleidet. Deshalb aufgegeben.
Ist nicht der richtige Moment für dieses Buch.
Fare thy well.
Vielleicht lesen wir uns mal wieder.
Jetzt muss ich dringend mal wieder anfangen zu lesen.
David Bird
This book appeared in Publisher's Weekly with a brief review saying that it was a logical choice if you had already worked your way through Proust, Musil, and Mann's Magic Mountain. I had, so I picked it up; after that comparison, it had much to live up to. It does.

Nadas is a Hungarian who deserves to be better known in this country. In this volume, he juxtaposes two narrative lines, and it takes a while to sort that out. The best way that I can describe is writing is dreamlike: not in the sense
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Katri
May 13, 2010 Katri marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I started reading this book, but I don't think I'm making through it now, so I'm returning it to my to-read shelf. It was interesting and had a special atmosphere that I really enjoyed, but the language is rather heavy and difficult, and the book so massive, that I just don't feel able to do it now. Don't get me wrong, I don't have a problem with massive books, but when the language is so hard I feel it's a job to read more than a page or two and then there are something like a thousand of such ...more
Alan Newman
The structure of this long novel was sometimes daunting and long passages though beautifully written can be a slog to get through, in the end this is a novel that is worthy of what has been said about it. Memory, betrayal, closeted homosexuality, life behind the then extant Iron Curtain are explored in somewhat Proustian fashion but with postmodern touches like multiple and unreliable narrators and nonlinear story telling.
B. G.
So as not to give away any potential spoilers, I'll simply say the following: Nadas' excavation of the interior realms of Eastern Bloc socialism is perhaps the best I've read. The way in which the author ranks political moments (de-Stalinization, 1956) alongside the personal (the chance meeting of Melchior, various experiences in Budapest, Moscow, and East Berlin) as Events captures a facet of the lived experience overshadowed in great heaps of the various national literatures. Not an easy read. ...more
William
Who knew a straight guy could write gay sex so well? And with such detail! But that's only 500-some pages in. And just when you think he's getting carried away with Lawrence-esque eroticism, he nails it:
"...it was as if we were seeing not each other's skin but the flesh, the bones, the rushing blood, the dividing cells, everything in the body that is selfish and self-serving and has nothing to do with another person."

Crude and vulgar sales pitch: as dense and intricate as Ulysses and as expansiv
...more
Patrick
I felt that I was holding something very special, at lease for first few hundred pages. But I tend to agree with other reviewers that wrote of the overdrawn descriptions and complexity (for it's own sake). I find "Gravity's Rainbow" similar in it's dense styling. Some famous author (am I thinking of Umberto Eco here?) said (and I paraphrase: if it took me two years to write the damn thing, I would expect the readers to do the same). For me, can't go there, can't do that.
Derek
This was quite a maddening book. What little action there is inches forward buried in paragraphs of description and/or exposition, but this is business-as-usual for Nadas, and he writes beautifully enough to get away with it. When reading about Eastern Europe and WWII and/or its aftermath, I'm willing to put up with a lot. Beautiful and long-winded as it was, I wasn't quite sure where this sequence of memories was going until the last two chapters (mostly) tied things up.
endrju
"I had realized that the principle I was really interested in, if there was a principle, was to be found not in the obvious, logical unfolding of events, in describable gestures and meaningful words - although these were very very important, for they embody human events - but rather in the seemingly contingent gaps between the words and gestures, in these irregularities and imperfections."
Mark
This Proustian meditation on Communist Hungary and homosexual desire is its own uncompromising & often unending fever-dream. It seemed politically important and often sexy, though the 1970s-era adult characters can be drearily narcissistic. Vivid glimpses of a (happily) lost world -- amazing pig slaughter sequence. Glad I read it, glad I finished it.
Ambreen
This book made me love words. This book made me realize what words mean. This book made me realize how ignorant I am about the world outside my world.
Oh folks. It's a dense book, I believe 800+ pages? Think about it before you commit. But if and when you do, you'll be completely amazed.
Miriam
Not to be read in between other obligations,This book demands full attention and loooong streches of undisturbed reading-time. Like deep-delving into the fabric of memories and assosiations where you never know exactly which layer you are in. Gives a slight vertigious sensation.
Katie Brennan
i know this is supposed to be the best book in the whole universe, and i love nadas' non-fiction, but i couldn't do it. this is the 2nd time i gave up on this book -- it has moments of amazing beauty, but it's just too hard for me to read.
Matthew Gallaway
Beautifully written exploration of closed societies (both politically and sexually) -- one of the great masterpieces of post-war literature written in what I would call a "gay voice." (Which is not to say Nadas is or isn't gay.)
Gabriella
My brother recommended this, and it is clearly an amazing novel. I give it five stars as an objective rating; subjectively, it was so dense that it was hard at times to get through it.
Alexander
Still working on this amazing novel in three parts. Regarded by Susan Sontag as "the greatest novel written in our time" Nadas's book is immersive
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Hungarian novelist, essayist, and dramatist, a major central European literary figure. Nádas made his international breakthrough with the monumental novel A Book of Memories (1986), a psychological novel following the tradition of Proust, Thomas Mann, and magic realism.

Péter Nádas was born in Budapest, as the son of a high-ranking party functionary. Nádas's grandfather, Moritz Grünfeld, changed h
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“The harmony of two bodies expressed in this single touch, bridging their differences and bending their moral reserve, was as powerful and wild as
physical fulfillment, yet there was nothing false in this harmony, no
illusion created that just by touching, our bodies could express feelings
that rationality prevented us from making permanent; I might even say that
our bodies cooly preserved their good sense, scheming and keeping each
other in check, as if to say, I'll yield unreservedly to the madness of
the moment but only if and when you do the same; but this physical plea
for passion and reason, spontaneity and calculation, closeness and
distance, took our bodies past the point where, clinging to desire and
striving for the moment of gratification, they would seek a new and more complete harmony.”
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“if one could learn the most important things in life, one would still have to learn how to keep quiet about them.” 2 likes
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