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Embers

3.9  ·  Rating Details ·  9,420 Ratings  ·  1,133 Reviews
Originally published in 1942 and now rediscovered to international acclaim, this taut and exquisitely structured novel by the Hungarian master Sandor Marai conjures the melancholy glamour of a decaying empire and the disillusioned wisdom of its last heirs.

In a secluded woodland castle an old General prepares to receive a rare visitor, a man who was once his closest friend
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ebook, 224 pages
Published December 16th 2003 by Vintage (first published 1942)
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Virginia Arthur Embers: this book is a literary classic. It has absolutely no profanity or explicit sex in it. It just intimates the sex. It is about…moreEmbers: this book is a literary classic. It has absolutely no profanity or explicit sex in it. It just intimates the sex. It is about adultery/betrayal/
and revenge but frames the character/plot in an almost Shakespearean way. (less)

Community Reviews

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Seemita
Mar 01, 2016 Seemita rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Seemita by: rahul
My fingers were interlocked around my Baba’s arm and my head was resting on his shoulders. I was stealing a glimpse of his face every now and then, convinced that the lines of exhaustion were going to creep upto his tongue any moment, tendering me an apology to relieve him of our evening chatter for the day. However, my apprehensions were misplaced. The exhaustion stood defeated in the face of the radiance that slowly, ever so gradually, filled his visage, displacing the fatigue like a magic pot ...more
K.D. Absolutely
Jul 11, 2014 K.D. Absolutely rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006-2010); 501 Must Read Books
Shelves: 1001-core, 501, favorites
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Samadrita
Embers is a tale of heart-breaking beauty. The kind of beauty which is not apparent right at the onset but which makes its omnipresence felt as you keep turning the pages and reach that state of involvement with the narrative, where you cannot wait to feast your eyes and senses on another delicately structured sentence.
It lies in the pall of gloom cast by the shadow of some tragedy unspoken of, lurking in the dark, cobwebbed nooks and corners of a secluded castle, the relentless flow of time th
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Diane S ☔
Jul 05, 2015 Diane S ☔ rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful words that form sentences that makes one stop and think. A exquisitely written story, very descriptive, one can picture the scenes down to the minutest of detail.

Friendship, the most expressive definition of a friendship between two men from different backgrounds that I have ever read. Betrayal, love, pride and at the last a definition of aging that is searing.

I cannot say enough about the experience of reading this book except to say it is one that I will long remember and that I mus
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Mariel
Jan 03, 2012 Mariel rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: dentures
Recommended to Mariel by: it's Hungarian. My usual methods. I'm unpriginal
Blah blah blah put on a puffed up high horse pedestal. I really hate this book. Pseudo "and this was happening cause that's how it happens" styling itself as meaning of shit you could read on a quote of the day site. I HATE books that think telling you this is the same as actually having any meaning. You don't get to just say it and tell me you said it, you awful book. Please, stop coming into my life if you are one of these books!

Or it is a greeting card. The greeting card is to give to the s
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Mary
Jul 11, 2015 Mary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“We will talk these things through once more, try to establish the truth and then go to our deaths, I in this house, you somewhere else…”

My impression of Hungarian authors so far has been that they really know how to write dark and depressing gems. Embers is just that, and possibly the saddest and loneliest little book I’ve read in a while.

What’s lonelier than an elderly recluse brooding for decades in an isolated castle?

Familiar themes abound here; love, betrayal, regret. But it’s done in su
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Nidhi Singh
Do you also believe that what gives our lives their meaning is the passion that suddenly invades us heart, soul, and body, and burns in us forever, no matter what else happens in our lives? And that if we have experienced this much, then perhaps we haven’t lived in vain? Is passion so deep and terrible and magnificent and inhuman?


Embers reads as a memoir with all the strength, verve, and emotions that a solitary perspective can bring. The incertitude of the narrator’s voice, the lack of defens
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Tea Jovanović
Fenomenalan roman mađarskog modernog klasika... MUST READ!
Stephen P
Mar 18, 2014 Stephen P rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Stephen by: M. Sarki
Shelves: favorites


How do you untie knots you cannot see, invisible ropes slung around you? Freudian landscapes of unconditional love sought by birthrate, unfound. Does one spend life seeking? But how does one ever know? Even if found is it right, will it disappear, leave, be taken? Or does one live a life only in forward motion? The perspective changes when one is elderly, looking back on perspectives with an old friend one hasn't seen in forty years.

Within is a book of links and linkages, of the tryst of duty w
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Cat
May 29, 2008 Cat rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I just didn't get this one.

This book is full of philosophical nonsense that fails to make an impact.

The main character is an uninteresting aristocrat with a victim mentality. He spends the entire book finding new and clumsy ways to say, "Woe is me."

The book is 213 pages long. It takes Sandor Marai 133 pages to pose his question, and another 70 pages to say that he doesn't need to hear the answer.

The real failure of this book is that Marai creates the background of a few other characters who ar
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Lynne King
“So he’s come back,” he said aloud, standing in the middle of the room. “Forty-one years and forty-three days later”.

“ These words seemed suddenly to exhaust him, as if he had only just understood the enormousness of forty-one years and forty-three days. He swayed, then sat down in the leather armchair with its worn back. On the little table within reach of his hand was a little silver bell, which he rang…

Oh my, a depressing but brilliant book. A tale of loss but so beautifully portrayed. Re
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Aubrey
This book grew and accustomed itself to my senses as an oblong piece of grit would first irritate, then slowly become smoothly subsumed by the oyster surrounding it. The final result was just as beautiful and deceptively complex as a perfectly round pearl would be, a piece of wonderful simplicity with a surprisingly sordid history of formation. Fortunately, the world at large did not feel the need to wrest this slowly wrought jewel from its protective nest, unlike its more physically cohesive co ...more
Willow
Sep 20, 2013 Willow rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In our modern age, I think we tend to glamorize the turn-of-the-century upper classes. It’s probably because of Art Nouveau and the Gibson Girl. I always imagine men dressed in their fashionable tweed suits with stiff collars and ladies in long, lacey skirts with big flouncy hats. And there’s always some garden party somewhere with lots of flowers.

Funny thing though, authors who lived through this period don’t write about it that way. To them the period was filled with pretense, hypocrisy and pa
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Tony
Jan 18, 2016 Tony rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hungarian
Come in. Come in, come in, my friend. And you are my friend, closer to me than any brother or sister, even though we have not seen nor spoken to each other in 41 years. It is brutally cold outside, but in here there is a fire, and very fine wine. The room is meticulously set as it was at that last meal, down to that third place setting, empty now. I have figured everything out, what happened then, and why you fled. And now I will tell you.

An eavesdropper might wish for more dialogue between us,
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Michela
Mar 24, 2012 Michela rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hearts-books
E' difficile articolare a parole quello che questo libro ha provocato in me, le riflessioni che ne sono scaturite, le angosce che ha riportato in superficie...
E' un romanzo breve, brevissimo, ma 170 pagine possono bastare a turbare un'anima già turbata di suo, a fornire risposte che proprio adesso, in questo periodo e soprattutto in questi giorni stavo cercando.
Risposte scomode alle quali ti rifiuti di credere ma che poi sei costretta ad accettare, a mani alte, arresa, perché a volte è inutile
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lisa_emily
Nov 11, 2008 lisa_emily rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: dwellers and memorists
Recommended to lisa_emily by: Libby
Shelves: fictions
I loved this little book. It is short, and I could have finished within a few days, but I wanted to linger over it. What I loved most of about this book is its deliberation. The author wanted to work out one very small but potent aspect of a life- friendship and its death-and he took his time unfolding the details and complexities of feeling. In a way, one could say that nothing really happens in this book, except memories and thoughts. And it is true, the first half of the book consists of the ...more
Orsolya
Let me begin by being frank: I’m full-blooded Hungarian and the daughter of a deceased, well-known Hungarian non-fiction author so I’m slightly biased toward Hungarian literature. Not too mention that Sandor Marai, the author of Embers, shares striking resemblances to my father (escaping from communism holds, fleeing first to Italy before ever touching the US, and death in 1989). Despite these blatant favoritism, Embers is a pure masterpiece and in realm with the classics.

The reader is instantly
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Tim
Recommended by Dawn Tripp.

When I was in high school, I had the privilege of having one of those English teachers that you'd feel damned lucky to run across in the pages of a book, much less in real life. Morrow Jones would shape me indelibly as a reader, a writer, a film buff, a teacher, and a person. One of the many projects we took on together was that of creating fiction in unusual forms and shapes--a t shirt, a set of fake Cliff's Notes for a nonexistent book, and a story on a möbius strip.
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Miguel
Aug 14, 2015 Miguel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
«A sua profundidade é das que brilham à flor da pele.»

Faltam-me os adjectivos, faltam-me os verbos, faltam-me as conjugações… Todas as palavras são indignas da qualidade sublime e invulgar desta obra que, ouso assertar, alterou, por completo, a visão que conservava em torno dos assuntos mais delicados da existência humana – a paixão, a humildade, a amizade e o propósito existencial.

Ao folhear as páginas, o nosso coração irrompe em chamas acolhedoras, graças à honestidade, integridade e verdade
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Marco Tamborrino
C'era qualcosa su cui non riuscivano a comprendersi. Eppure si amavano.

1. Questo libro è scritto benissimo.
2. Questo libro è strutturato benissimo.
3. Alcuni passi e certe pagine raggiungono vette di poesia altissime.
Ma:
1. Questo libro è completamente raccontato, non presenta parti mostrate. Nemmeno nei romanzi più romantici del romanticismo c'è così poco show e così tanto tell.
2. Più di metà del romanzo è un monologo.
3. Per dire cose che si potevano dire in qualche riga, l'autore impiega decine
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James
Sandor Marai has an uncanny ability to demonstrate his ideas through things that are not said. Embers is permeated with nostalgia for the past, a past that, as in Proust, cannot be recaptured. This book is excellent not just for how well it is written and how well it is structured, but for the author's ability to demonstrate his ideas through what is not said.
"My homeland no longer exists . . . Everything's come apart. My homeland was a feeling, and that feeling was mortally wounded. When that
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Gautam
May 29, 2016 Gautam rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Too profound and too beautiful to put into words. Dark, scathing, thought-provoking and yet simple & beautiful.

5 stars on 5!
-gautam
Gill
Dec 01, 2015 Gill rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This is the second time I have read this book, and I'm even more impressed second time around. It can be appreciated as a beautifully written story linked to the period near the end of the AustroHungarian Empire. But it is also about life, death, love, hate, friendship, ageing, truth, betrayal and much more beside. I could read each page again and again.
Blanca
Mar 17, 2012 Blanca rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lan-sp, fiction, 2011
This may be the first book I finish out of sheer stubbornness, and even then I had to skim through the last 40 pages.

Such a terrible, terrible book. It's basically 200 hundred pages where a bitter old man rambles about every paranoid supposition he has made in the last 40 years of his life. He does so very condescendingly and at times he's rude and misogynist. I really should have known he was going to be a drama-queen when at the very beginning he explains how as a child he fell terribly ill in
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S©aP
Mar 08, 2013 S©aP rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Un bel romanzo, intenso, concepito da una mente solida. Alta sensibilità. Acutezza di analisi. Una storia ottocentesca, resa paradigmatica e universale dalla profondità del pensiero.
Edward
May 02, 2016 Edward rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Edward by: Octavian
A Note About the Translator

--Embers
Simona
Jan 28, 2016 Simona rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Poate cel mai emoționant roman despre prietenie citit de mine vreodată.
Povestea e simplă: doi bărbaţi legaţi de o nemaiîntâlnită prietenie iubesc aceeaşi femeie, soţia unuia dintre ei. Un incident la vânătoare îi separă pentru patruzeci și unu de ani, răstimp în care furtuna incertitudinii faţă de cele petrecute atunci îi tulbură în mod diferit. Înainte de moarte se regăsesc şi lucrurile trebuie să se desluşească. Se vor reîntâlni în acelaşi decor în care, cu patruzeci și unu de ani în urmă, s-
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El
For a long time in our lives, we knew people back in our younger days, and then lost track of them for one reason or another, occasionally thinking "I wonder whatever happened to...". There was not always a way of knowing whatever happened to some people, especially if you moved away from home and didn't have any mutual friends any more.

But then Facebook happened. And the world rejoiced because we could suddenly become "friends" with people we knew a gazillion years ago, see that their lives are
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Ana
Jan 17, 2016 Ana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“Foste sempre estranho, diferente, não eras um de nós. Uma pessoa não pode ser músico e parente de Chopin sem consequências.”
Num velho castelo algures na Hungria, Henrik, um velho general que, na juventude, havia servido o império austro-húngaro, vive em reclusão. Um dia recebe uma carta anunciando a visita de Konrád, seu amigo inseparável desde a adolescência e durante mais de vinte anos, e que não vê, e de quem nada sabe, há mais de quarenta anos. Exactamente quarenta e um anos… e quarenta e
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Anna [Floanne]
Non so come commentare un libro di tale grandezza. Quando si incontra sulla propria strada un romanzo così intenso e perfetto, non si può non ritenersi fortunati ad essere dei lettori. L'intensità della vicenda si avverte fin dalle prime pagine, ma Marai è magistrale nel far accrescere il senso dell'attesa di un incontro-scontro, nello svelare a poco a poco, nel lungo e sofferto monologo di Heinrik, i retroscena che hanno caratterizzato la sua amicizia e la sua rivalità con Konrad, mentre lo spe ...more
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Goodreads Librari...: Change description 11 32 Dec 08, 2015 11:01AM  
Chicago Gay Men's...: Questions for Embers by Sandor Marai 1 11 Jun 27, 2014 01:04PM  
La Stamberga dei ...: Le braci di Sándor Márai 1 9 Jun 05, 2013 09:12AM  
Embers 1 77 Feb 13, 2009 01:01PM  
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Sándor Márai (originally Sándor Károly Henrik Grosschmied de Mára) was a Hungarian writer and journalist.
He was born in the city of Kassa in Austria-Hungary (now Košice in Slovakia) to an old family of Saxon origin who had mixed with magyars through the centuries. Through his father he was a relative of the Ország-family. In his early years, Márai travelled to and lived in Frankfurt, Berlin, and P
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More about Sándor Márai...

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“No, the secret is that there's no reward and we have to endure our characters and our natures as best we can, because no amount of experience or insight is going to rectify our deficiencies, our self-regard, or our cupidity. We have to learn that our desires do not find any real echo in the world. We have to accept that the people we love do not love us, or not in the way we hope. We have to accept betrayal and disloyalty, and, hardest of all, that someone is finer than we are in character or intelligence.” 70 likes
“She said she never wanted to have secrets from me nor from herself, which is why she wanted to write down everything that otherwise would be hard to talk about. As I said, later I understood that someone who flees into honesty like that fears something, fears that her life will fill with something that can no longer be shared, a genuine secret, indescribable, unutterable.” 44 likes
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