Steve lovell's Reviews > Twilight of Love: Travels with Turgenev

Twilight of Love by Robert Dessaix
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's review
Jan 28, 2011

it was amazing
Read in January, 2011

Hobart, the city where I live part time, 'provincial and lustreless'?????
The author has also chosen to live in Hobs, and surely Dessaix and lustreless in the same sentence is an oxymoron. To be fair, most mentions of Dessaix' adopted city/island are complimentary, and that it is provincial there is no doubt - but lustreless? I suppose it depends on criteria. On a sparkling day like this with yachts glistening over the Derwent and Wellington brooding above, to me, is lustrous. Looking up at the interiors of the Theatre Royal has the same effect, as does wandering the colonial galleries at TMAG. Walking around Battery Point on a glorious spring day I think cannot be beat, at least in the antipodes. I know the book preceded MONA, but I wonder if its establishment would encourage Dessaix to change his view. We surely lack the high culture of a Paris or Moscow, but observing the verdantly bush covered hills all around I know where I'd rather be domiciled.
But this book is more than just one statement about my pocket handkerchief-sized capital city, and given that I consider myself to be a moderately intelligent being, I am still awed by Dessaix. He surely is super-intelligent, he simply 'knows' so much on his given topics - here namely the life, loves, works and times of Turgenev, a name I first encountered when a mate decided the Russian literary giant's revolutionary connections should be the subject of his thesis. I doubt though that even the great man himself would flaunt such wonderful language as the noveau-Hobartian does in this book - it is a delightful read, from this point of view, from cover to cover. It does not matter that in no way does it convince me to work my way through even one of Turgenev's oeuvre, nor sashay off to Paree or great Russian cities. Dessaix' written language shines off the page with magical words, foreign and exotic,adding, dare I say it, lustre.
Through these pages the author meditates on and ruminates about the nature of love, coping with impending death and the joys of cultured friends in European locales. A highlight was the contrasting of life in communist Russia and the hybrid that exists today.

Although I'll not seek out his subject matter, I'll surely seek out more Dessaix.

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