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Danube: A Sentimental Journey from the Source to the Black Sea

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3.94  ·  Rating Details  ·  643 Ratings  ·  64 Reviews
A triumphant celebration of a river that has forever been at the center of the great movements of history.

In this fascinating journey through the history and culture of the Danube, Claudio Magris, whose knowledge is encyclopedic and curiosity limitless, invites the reader to accompany him along the whole course of the river, from the Bavarian hills through Austro-Hungary a
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Paperback, 416 pages
Published January 18th 2001 by Vintage (first published January 1st 1986)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,645)
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Terry
Nov 09, 2014 Terry rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Fred
Shelves: water, lit-crit, travel
"On one such night a famous Greek corn merchant gambled away his fortune, his red neo-classical palace near the Danube, and his wife."
Danube is full of lost-treasure-like passages such as this. I felt, when I reached the end, as if I'd just read some sort of sacred text. As travelogue it's absolutely everything you could want and more (well, it doesn't always tell you which hotel to choose or where to eat, though it does accomplish that sometimes). What it does do is expound upon the history, my
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Kelly
Update: this is just not going to happen now. I am not in a place for its prose. I'll try again in the winter.
* **
This was on the shelf next to the Fermor I just bought. Clever clever salespeople. I bought both.
Martha
Jun 19, 2012 Martha rated it liked it
Not the travel book I was expecting! I haven't met so far any actual inhabitants along the river or much of the actual river itself - rather historical vignettes, philosophical musings and grappling with the third Reich.(which are very interesting and kept me going to my iPad to find out more) But I haven't put it down as I keep thinking I might. Still, I wish I were traveling with Femor.

At the very end of this challenging book , I found what I was thinking I would be reading - just a few lines
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Ryan Iseppi
This one almost broke me.

I reckon it took me about six months to finally come to the end of this book, reading it as I did in short angry spurts, and while it made a certain impact on me psychologically, I don't expect to retain much at all of the dizzying accumulation of historical happenings, personal anecdotes, literary analyses, and harebrained philosophizing that Claudio Magris packages as a "travel" book.

Danube is relentlessly intellectual, pedantic, and frankly, aimless, as Magris attempt
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Liviu
Sep 04, 2015 Liviu is currently reading it
read the last 4 chapters (Hungary, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Romania but only roughly as the story moves all around the Danube area the author is in, both in time and space); excellent stuff - even if some of the current at the time (1986) had become dated only a few years later when the seemingly forever communist regimes collapsed like house of cards everywhere;

as someone born and raised in those parts and steeped in the local culture (at least what was approved officially or tacitly under commun
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Caroline
Feb 14, 2014 Caroline rated it really liked it
This is an amazing compendium of history, literary criticism, travelogue, and meditation on twentieth century European crises. Giving four stars is perhaps picky, but a number of times Magris gets so wound up in his prose that he goes off in paragraphs that don’t really make any sense or contribute anything. The book is so long that I began to begrudge him these self-indulgences. Also, it sags in the middle, as he talks about Vienna. In contrast to the really focused and insightful things he has ...more
Kevin Tole
Aug 12, 2011 Kevin Tole rated it did not like it
Shelves: trash, non-fiction
I am not sure who is to blame more - the learned poet translator or the wannabee poet intellectual author. Like another reviewer I dragged my way through this book continually affronted by Magris' attempts to blind us with his knowledge and name dropping. This Italian Melvyn Bragg's attempts to provide a book on the diversity of the Danube just ends up as an opportunity for him to namecheck various obscure figures of European thought. HE revels in it along with his bootiful Italian companions. I ...more
Christopher
Aug 18, 2012 Christopher rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel
This book, arch frenemy of my summer reading plans, would not be rushed.

After three full months of plodding through it a page or two at a time, my mind remains a fog of Central European history.

However slow, the beginning of one paragraph, written somewhere in the tangle of the Danube delta, brought me to the present tense, and beckoned me to experience the river for myself:

"An uprooted oak-tree lies rotting in the water, a vulture swoops like lightning on a little coot. A girl takes off her
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Carlos Manzano
Mar 08, 2013 Carlos Manzano rated it it was amazing
"El Danubio" es algo así como el paradigma de la literatura de viajes. No es un libro de anécdotas, historias más o menos triviales ni sucesos sin apenas importancia: “El Danubio” se adentra hasta el tuétano en la cultura y la historia centroeuropeas, nos lleva de la mano por sus principales hitos, por su idiosincrasia y por supuesto también por sus aspectos más indignantes, supeditando el viaje físico al intelectual, a la experiencia verdaderamente vital.
Olla Dilas
Sep 13, 2012 Olla Dilas rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed reading this piece! This book is a unique geneology of a river, a continent and human society within it and around it. It is a well written analysis of Central European culture, ethos and philosophy through centuries. Danube the book and Danube the river are two sides of one coin. Danube and its everlasting presence serves as a constant reminder for Europens and humans everywhere of just how vague our knowlage or belief about who we assume we are is. Wonder, learn, think about it!
Selma
Oct 22, 2013 Selma rated it it was ok
Reading Claudio Magris is like reading Thomas Carlyle translated into German then back into English. Whose fault is this? The writer's, the translator's? Does ploughing through this allusion-larded (some would say, "show-offy" or "pedantic") text tell you anything about the Danube and its territories? A little. If you have a lot of time and idle curiosity, go for it.
Tom Hannis
Dec 08, 2012 Tom Hannis rated it it was amazing


An amazing work that took me months to get through - and I will spend several more days going back to do further research on dozens of literary and historical references.
Lorenzo Berardi
I am in love with river Danube.
Yet Claudio Magris came first in romanticism.

It doesn't matter. I can easily tolerate him as a rival.
As long as the river flows.
Pat
Feb 11, 2016 Pat rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Pat by: Deborah Kovacs
This is a brilliant book unlike any other I've read. Though dense, the writing is by turns lyrical, philosophical, cynical, and funny. It's taken me a long time to munch through it, short chapter by short chapter, one or two a night, with long interludes setting it aside . . . and yet it was delicious to munch. It impelled me to read on and lent itself to this episodic reading, with each short chapter capable of standing alone. It's like traveling--along the length of the Danube, in this case--w ...more
Clara Mazzi
Apr 12, 2014 Clara Mazzi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Cinque stelline non bastano per esprimere quanto io abbia apprezzato, amato questo libro. Sebbene avessi giurato di non leggere mai più nulla di questo eccelso studioso ed appassionato germanista perchè decisamente ad un livello troppo alto (persino) per me, non appena ho cominciato a leggere le prime pagine di Danubio non sono più riuscita a smettere. Un libro meraviglioso di pensieri, riflessioni sull'uomo, sulla vista, sulla storia. Un viaggio dentro di noi (banale, lo so, ma è così). Un uomo ...more
Liberis
Jan 25, 2016 Liberis rated it really liked it
Ενα ωραίο ταξίδι, κάποιες φορές κουραστικό, άλλες φορές ανάλαφρο κι όμορφο, είναι όμως ένα βιβλίο που εισχωρεί στον παραδουνάβιο πολιτισμό, με ιδιαίτερη έμφαση όμως στη γερμανόφωνη κουλτούρα. Έτσι, θεωρώ εξαιρετικά τα κεφάλαια του βιβλίου μέχρι τη Βουδαπέστη, μετά λίγο χάθηκε σε ελάσσονες συγγραφείς ειδικού ενδιαφέροντος. Στη μετάφραση έχει ψιλολαθάκια σε όρους κυρίως και ονομασίες. Ωστόσο, χάρηκα που ξαναβγήκε και μπόρεσα να το διαβάσω
Erwin Maack
Aug 30, 2014 Erwin Maack rated it it was amazing
Procurar as origens da Torre de Babel? Não me seria surpreendente se algum entrevistador conseguisse esta dúvida como resposta ao porquê de ter escrito tal livro. Foi o que senti no decorrer destas páginas. Desde as suas origens (do rio) até o seu delta as histórias se aprimoram nos fatos e nos deixam um grande espaço para refletir e sonhar. Afinal de contas não saberemos jamais a resposta para a nossa mais profunda dúvida, como é que poderíamos encontrá-la em algum lugar? Entretanto não é ela q ...more
Denis
Feb 03, 2016 Denis rated it it was amazing
Magris is one of those fascinating European intellectuals whose extraordinary erudition and culture always leave me in awe – and a bit envious! Danube is probably, to this date at least, Magris’ magnum opus, and it is a treasure to savor slowly. As he takes us along the course of the river Danube, from its sources to the Black Sea, where it ends, he leisurely brings to life the whole cultural, geographical, natural, human History of this part of Europe, with as much verve as knowledge. His under ...more
Ariadna73
Jan 26, 2012 Ariadna73 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
This is a trip along the Danube river. This is a fascinating trip. Is like going there and staying at the hotels; and thinking about the history of the places. This is a great trip.
June 4: Ok. I'm done with it. I liked the trip a lot; and learned about the history and the places. It's really interesting to read this book; and as the author says; after that two-miles long film; we only want to stand up from our chairs; and eat some more popcorn.
Russell
May 18, 2012 Russell rated it it was amazing
I really thought this was a masterpiece when I first read it ten years ago, and when I look back at passages again now, I still think so. Maybe Magris gets a little long-winded with the Austrian literary references, but that is part of the point, and he certainly knows his stuff enough to make them effectively. I don't know if one can write this kind of book anymore.
John
Jun 20, 2012 John rated it it was amazing
If you're looking for a travel book including tips on where to get that perfect little meal and beer, forget this one. If you're looking to experience a fantastic trip and learn the people, their history, and their present, and to really feel it all, this may be the book for you. This book absolutely swept me away.
Michael Todd
Verbose, encyclopedic, pedantic and intellectually showy, often boring, and occasionally absorbing. It's changed, in a small way, the way I travel but I'm glad I'm finished with it.
This book, by the way, is not a guide to the Danube; it's more about the intellect and mind of its author.
Soobie's heartbroken
A dire la verità faceva parte delle letture facoltative del corso di Storia dei Paesi dell'Europa Orientale, uno dei più belli frequentati all'uni. Facoltativa nel senso che c'era una lista di tre volumi e bisognava sceglierne uno. Dopo essermi consultata con il librario di fiducia, mi diede appunto Danubio che, secondo lui, era il più leggero dei tre. Dut di ridi!

Fatica.

Però letto in un paio di settimane. Ma tanta, tanta fatica.

L'unico capitello che ha illuminato la lettura, per me, si trova a
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Harald
"Danube" has the misleading subtitle "A Sentimental Journey from the Source to the Black Sea." However, is not a travel book in the ordinary sense, it is rather an extended essay on literature with the Danube providing the linear structure rather that chronology, which is nowhere to be seen. Claudio discusses a large number of Central European authors that for most readers will be quite obscure and deservedly so. The first chapter on the sources of the Danube is especially demanding and irritati ...more
June
May 31, 2011 June rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't even know how to describe this book--history? Travel? All I know is that I felt smarter after I finished.
Lisa Listgarten
Sep 21, 2013 Lisa Listgarten rated it it was ok
Got through two chapters. Totally unreadable.
Karen
Apr 17, 2016 Karen added it
Interim review:


This is a book to be read and enjoyed when one has infinite free time. Alas that none of us has that.

Claudio Magris simply knows too much. He takes us on a journey down the Danube from its springs in Bavaria, to - well, I don't know to what as I haven't got there yet. Along on this journey Magris brings a host of his best friends: poets, historians dead and alive, philosophers, water engineers, geographers, bureaucrats, all who have plenty to say and who say it in dizzying swaths
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Will Shadbolt
Dec 30, 2015 Will Shadbolt rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015
Though marketed in some editions as a novel, this is anything but. Taking a trip down the Danube from its source down to its end as a springboard, this unorthodox travelogue (in which Magris himself barely figures) examines landmarks, historical events, and philosophical and literary ideas, all based around the Danube. Topics vary from Celine and Hegel to beer and Bulgarian bandits, from giants you’d have to be born under a rock not to heard of to obscure people mysterious even to PHDs.

It’s imp
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Joana Costa

"Danúbio" é uma obra-prima. Claudio Magris leva-nos a viajar pela Europa, pelo curso do Danúbio desde a nascente até à sua foz, falando-nos dos espaços, das gentes e da sua cultura. Alemanhã, Aústria, Hungria, Checoslováquia, Jugoslávia, Roménia e Bulgária, no conceito Mitteleuropa. A literatura destas culturas está muito presente, não fosse Magris um germanista.
É uma obra densa e de difícil leitura.

Excertos e frases que ficaram:

"Neste Lager, não dos piores, morreram mais de centro e dez mil pes
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Maria Grazia
Ci sono libri che ti guardano per anni dagli scaffali della libreria, di cui senti parlare, ai quali altri scrittori fanno riferimento, tu li guardi, con un misto di diffidenza e senso di inferiorità, e li lasci lì, finché una notte non riesci a dormire, e quasi per caso te li ritrovi in mano.
Questa è la storia della relazione tra me e il capolavoro di Magris.
Pensavo che fosse un libro di viaggio, e infatti lo è, ma il Danubio, il suo stravagante e infinito percorso tra una sorgente assimilabile
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Claudio Magris was born in Trieste in the year 1939. He graduated from the University of Turin, where he studied German studies, and has been a professor of modern German literature at the University of Trieste since 1978.

His major work is Danubio (1986), which is a magnum opus. In this book Magris tracks the course of the Danube from its sources to the sea. The whole trip evolves into a colorful
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“History shows that it is not only senseless and cruel, but also difficult to state who is a foreigner.” 18 likes
“The Danube is not blue, as Karl Isidore Beck calls it in the lines which suggested to Strauss the fetching, mendacious title of his waltz. The Danube is blond, 'a szöke Duna', as the Hungarians say, but even that 'blond' is a Magyar gallantry, or a French one, since in 1904 Gaston Lavergnolle called it Le Beau Danube blond. More down to earth, Jules Verne thought of entitling a novel Le Beau Danube jaune. Muddy yellow is the water that grows murky at the bottom of these [the Strudlhof] steps.” 4 likes
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