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Embers

3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  6,448 ratings  ·  810 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...more
Paperback, 214 pages
Published August 13th 2002 by Vintage (first published 1942)
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Embers by Sándor MáraiFatelessness by Imre KertészThe Paul Street Boys by Ferenc MolnárSkylark by Dezső KosztolányiA Journey Round My Skull by Frigyes Karinthy
20th Century Hungarian Literature
1st out of 114 books — 84 voters
1984 by George OrwellAnimal Farm by George OrwellThe Diary of a Young Girl by Anne FrankThe Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-ExupéryThe Stranger by Albert Camus
Best Books of the Decade: 1940's
53rd out of 381 books — 453 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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K.D. Absolutely
Jul 11, 2014 K.D. Absolutely rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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...more
Mariel
Jan 03, 2012 Mariel rated it 1 of 5 stars
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...more
Nidhi
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 defensi...more
Stephen P
Mar 18, 2014 Stephen P rated it 5 of 5 stars
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...more
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
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...more
Michela
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...more
Tim
Sep 09, 2013 Tim added it
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....more
Cat
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...more
lisa_emily
Nov 11, 2008 lisa_emily rated it 5 of 5 stars
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
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...more
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...more
Fewlas
"Un segreto che le parole non sono in grado di sostenere."

A dispetto dei fiumi di parole del soliloquio del generale, questo libro è un inno al silenzio. Il silenzio perché la parola molto spesso non riesce a trovare il suo referente. Il silenzio perché tutto si è svolto senza bisogno di espliciti suoni linguistici: il generale ed il suo amico Konrad hanno vissuto un evento che si è svolto nel silenzio e che per quarantun anni è stato il loro silenzioso segreto.

Più che un inno all’amicizia come...more
Miguel
«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...more
S©aP
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.
Tea Jovanović
Fenomenalan roman mađarskog modernog klasika... MUST READ!
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...more
Luana

Non credi anche tu che il significato della vita sia semplicemente la passione che un giorno invade il nostro cuore, la nostra anima e il nostro corpo e che, qualunque cosa accada, continua a bruciare in eterno, fino alla morte?



C’è un aspetto dell’inverno a casa mia molto affascinante. Noi quattro, i miei genitori, io e mia sorella, ci raccogliamo intorno al camino mentre, nella luce accesa del fuoco, attendiamo che il giorno vada a spegnersi del tutto per consegnarci alla benevolenza della...more
Elisa
Commento in fase di fermentazione

(Fase uno: quando non ero mica sicura che mi fosse piaciuto)
Quando chiudi un libro con la faccia distesa tra un "bah" di indifferenza e un "beh" di compromesso, non è mai un buon segnale. Quando il giudizio deve fare ricorso alla struttura del romanzo per strappare un margine di positività alla lettura conclusa, è segno che le parole sono cadute su un terreno forse arido, inadatto a farne germogliare qualcosa. In fin dei conti, il romanzo può avere una struttura...more
Blanca
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...more
Denis
Thank God for the people who have rediscovered this novel and have helped relaunching the career of Márai outside of his native Hungary. This book could well be his masterpiece, although he has written many novels that are absolutely fantastic. This is truly a wonderful novel, powerfully moving and elegiac, bathed in a sense of melancholy and loss that creates an infinitely sad yet delicately enchanting mood. It's also very much a book about an old Europe that has disappeared - and that may be w...more
Dottie
I can only say that this book went to the top of the all-time top list and will likely stay there for the foreseeable future. I shed buckets of tears on and off throughout – and largely on during the last half or so.
Is it going to be that strong a book for others? I have no idea. But if it is and if your experience of it is anything near to mine, you are in for one amazing time.

Adding: read it at a leisurely pace to savor the whole of it, would be my recommendation.
Simona Bartolotta
"E poi, in fondo, qualcuno ha mai detto o scritto la verità? Me lo sono chiesto spesso, quando ho iniziato a indagare nel mio animo e nei libri. Il tempo passava, la vita intorno a me cambiava, calava una sorta di crepuscolo. I libri e i ricordi si accumulavano, si infittivano sempre di più. E ogni libro conteneva un pizzico di verità, e ogni ricordo mi insegnava che è vano cercare di scoprire la vera natura dei rapporti umani, perchè la conoscenza non ci aiuterà a diventare più saggi."

«Ogni lib...more
Tempo de Ler
'As Velas Ardem Até ao Fim' é um livro incomparável. Relembrou-me a magia dos livros, a magia de encontrar um inesperado tesouro literário cujos fragmentos permanecerão comigo muito depois de terminada a leitura.

Sándor Márai disserta com alguma nostalgia sobre tópicos que já nos passaram pela cabeça mas que temos dificuldade em concretizar e verbalizar. Aqui, cada frase parece significativa, cada ideia é apresentada e desenvolvida de forma perfeita.

Posso apenas calcular por alto o grau de matur...more
Ben Winch
In a way it's reassuring that trite, lazy, self-consciously 'literary' writing is not unique to our time. Aside from that reassurance, I got nothing from this. Not even worth cutting to pieces. A fart in the wind.
Louise
This novel is set in a palace, a vestige of the defeated Austro-Hungarian Empire on the cusp of the war that will put a final end to its way of life. The events take place in a single day and flash back to events of 41 years earlier.

Sandor Marai, sets the stage by describing the “slightly musty atmosphere”, of the halls, portraits and fading curtains. The General gives instructions to the staff: the nurse, a winegrower, a gamekeeper etc. for preparation for the long awaited guest. For many years...more
Simona
Sarà perché considero l'amicizia un valore supremo, sarà perché preferisco circondarmi di pochi amici, ma buoni, ma questo libro di Màrai mi ha conquistato.
Mi è piaciuto il rapporto tra i due protagonisti, Henrik e Konrad, così diversi, ma complementari.
Forse il loro rapporto è un po' troppo esclusivo, ma la loro amicizia è vera, incondizionata, come poche volte accade.
"Le braci" è un libro che parla di malinconia, di attesa, di memoria, del destino. Un libro che mi ha pervaso di una malincon...more
André Benjamim
Podia tecer diversas considerações sobre esta obra. Mas iria mais uma vez derivar para o meu caso particular: sim tive (tenho) um destes amigos fatais de que fala Sándor Márai. As velas ardem até ao fim não é um tratado sobre Amizade, é o tratado. Por ter esse amigo fatal a que estou unido como a um irmão gémeo, em cada linha lia-me. E após acabar a leitura deste romance, só me apetece enviá-lo a todas as pessoas que alguma vez me chamaram amigo. Porque amigo é uma palavra tão cara, mas tão mal...more
Filipa
Entre uma floresta húngara, existe uma mansão imponente pertencente a um general. Após a morte deste, a mansão foi herdada pelo seu filho, que sempre acreditou que a vida lhe ofereceu as melhores sensações que se pode ter. O filho do general desde a sua meninice que tem um amigo que é como se fosse uma extensão do seu próprio corpo, da sua própria personalidade. Durante 22 anos, ambos viram esta amizade florescer e prosperar sob os olhos de todos os seus conhecidos, que ficavam admirados por ver...more
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La Stamberga dei ...: Le braci di Sándor Márai 1 7 Jun 05, 2013 09:12AM  
Embers 1 70 Feb 13, 2009 01:01PM  
  • Journey by Moonlight
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  • Sunflower
  • Anna Édes
  • A Book of Memories
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  • The Notebook, The Proof, The Third Lie: Three Novels
  • The Radetzky March  (Von Trotta Family #1)
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4771489
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...more
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.” 58 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.” 36 likes
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