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

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3.93 of 5 stars 3.93  ·  rating details  ·  423 ratings  ·  47 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...more
Paperback, 416 pages
Published January 18th 2001 by Vintage (first published 1986)
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Community Reviews

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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.
Terry
Apr 30, 2009 Terry rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Fred
Shelves: lit-crit, water
"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...more
Martha
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...more
Caroline
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
Christopher
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...more
Olla Dilas
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!
Tom Hannis


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.
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...more
Kevin Tole
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
Clara Mazzi
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
Carlos Manzano
"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.
Ariadna73
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.
Selma
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.
Russell
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
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...more
Cns
I don't even know how to describe this book--history? Travel? All I know is that I felt smarter after I finished.
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...more
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...more
Mike
This is less of a travel book and more of an elaborate bibliography of mostly German writers on subjects relating to the culture of the Danube. The author is a huge Germanophile, so if you are a Slovak, Croat, Serb, Romanian, Bulgarian, or even Hungarian, you might feel like your people are marginalized in his portrayal of the cultural landscape of the Danube. His style of writing about these places he is visiting by using examples from 17th through 19th century literature has the effect of maki...more
Rennie
This was difficult. I kept noting really gorgeously written passages, and when the anecdotes and historical bits made sense, they were worth reading. But so much of it is hard to get through, with so many obscure references and philosophical asides that didn't add much to the cultural or historical aspects that I thought were the basis of the book. I'm not sure the author actually knew what kind of book he wanted to write because it's all over the place, subject-wise and stylistically. I thought...more
Geoffrey Rose
An elegiac tribute to the fallen Habsburg Mitteleuropean world, Magris's "Danube" is not a traditional travelogue and occasionally(well, more than occasionally) meanders, which I suppose is not too unusual for this genre of writing. But the text is filled with fascinating gems and, at times, profound insights. It had me fiercely missing Austria, Hungary, and Bulgaria (the three countries Magris travels through that I have had an opportunity to visit). The first few chapters were a bit esoteric b...more
Gopal MS
- It's also the story of the German people who lived/lives along the Danube.
- It's also a book that not just travels along the river but also across time.
- It's supposed to have been written over 20 years! And it will take you a longer time than you take to read any other book of this kind because there are a lot of interesting thoughts and ideas that make you pause and think. You will also go back and re-read certain sections.

One of the greatest books of this kind without doubt. I wish there...more
Raúl
Imprescindible
Neale
Technically a literary and historical travelogue of the Danube, but the very opposite of a linear narrative: readers wanting a cohesive tour-guide will be as confused as readers of 'Tristram Shandy' wanting to find out 'what happened'.

I took this book on after reading a glowing review by John Banville. It's certainly not a page-turner: it's pleasures lie in dwelling on isolated passages of great brilliance. I doubt that I'll ever finish it. But who wants to finish a journey?
Johnny Holiday
Feb 05, 2012 Johnny Holiday rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Nobody!
Recommended to Johnny by: Good Reads website
I was really looking forward to reading this book because I will be doing a cruise on the Danube in June 2012.
I managed to get through two or three chapters but eventually gave up. It was just too dry and humourless for me. I was expecting an entertaining travelogue but found this book to be written by someone who was a bit too impressed with his own knowledge of every miniscule detail of the area. I am very disappointed!
Morgan Bruyneel
It's very difficult to give this an accurate score. Allthough the topic is of my interest and each phrase is eloquently written the story lacks greatly in speed. It is therefor difficult to read, understand and enjoy it. I would recommend it only to history lovers and people who have the time to read entire paragraphs twice. I will not say or write however that it is a bad book.
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“History shows that it is not only senseless and cruel, but also difficult to state who is a foreigner.” 14 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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