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Night Train to Lisbon

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  14,351 ratings  ·  1,534 reviews
A huge international best seller, this ambitious novel plumbs the depths of our shared humanity to offer up a breathtaking insight into life, love, and literature itself. A major hit in Germany that went on to become one of Europe’s biggest literary blockbusters in the last five years, Night Train to Lisbon is an astonishing novel, a compelling exploration of consciousness ...more
Hardcover, 496 pages
Published December 21st 2007 by Grove Press (first published 2004)
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Judith Baxter Much more depth of course, but I just saw the movie for the second time and loved it just as much as the first time. Recommend you read the book.

Community Reviews

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3.72  · 
Rating details
 ·  14,351 ratings  ·  1,534 reviews

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Susanna-Cole King
Jan 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing
When, on a whim, I threw everything away to wander thousands of miles from anything I've ever known, I first went to Lisbon because of this book. That was last September, and by November I had traipsed through neighboring Spain and south into Africa, though, I've since been back to the city of Lisbon, and furthermore to this book.

If you are not, at least in some part, a thinker, if philosophy ebbs away at your patience, if the sight of pages mostly barren of dialogue make you panic, this book w
Mar 29, 2008 rated it did not like it
Apparently, Page des Libraires calls this 'One of the great European novels of the past few years'- compared to what? The SNCF Railway Timetable.

This book makes me incredibly angry. And after some thought I can honestly award it the 'worst book I have ever read' award. I could forgive it for being slow. I could forgive the missed opportunities of drawing what potentially could have been interesting characters in two dimensions. I could even forgive the shockingly bad translation (it has not even
Jim Fonseca
Nov 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: german-authors
A teacher of dead languages (Latin, Greek) at a German prep school has no real friends or even much of a life to speak of. One day he stops a despondent young woman from jumping off a bridge. She is Portuguese and he then begins reading a work by a Portuguese author and becomes obsessed with finding out about the author. He quits his dull job of many years (in the same school he attended as a boy) and hops a train to Lisbon even though he doesn’t even speak Portuguese.

So this is novel of male m
Luís C.
Mar 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Luís by: Kalliope
On a rainy morning, a woman prepares to jump off a bridge in Bern. Raimund persuades her not to do it and she succeeds, but then the woman disappears. All we know is that she's Portuguese. In the afternoon, he enters a bookstore and, by chance, discovers a book by a Portuguese author. Amadeu de Prado, who was a doctor, poet and resistant during Salazarism. Raimund has long been a teacher of Latin and Greek, which already excites him as little as his marriage, already in a state of disintegration ...more
Nov 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite
I LOVED this book. I've been running around quoting "Given that we can live only a small part of what there is in us - what happens to the rest?"

Part of me wants to say that that line, and the subject of this book, the exploration of alternate lives than the one you've chosen, resonated with me because I'm at that age when one recognizes how much will go undone, how many experiences will never be felt, how many lives could still be lived, given world enough and time.

But actually, I've had this
Oct 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
some choices change one's life forever
a language professor pursue an author of a portuguese book ,he was captivated by his philosophical ideas and words which speak directly to him.
with unplaned travel to Lisbon, gradually discovered the author's life as a doctor and participant in the resistance movement against Portuguese fascist government at the time of Salazar's regime
beautiful story discussing the vitality of life, love, moral conflicts and responsibilities
Oct 15, 2013 marked it as to-read
When dictatorship is a fact, revolution is a duty.
Normally, I would just leave it at that. It's a nice quote I hadn't heard before. But, in the current climate, I am concerned that I will have my account closed down by the GR censors if I don't explain myself more fully, so I guess I'd better do so.

I have not read the book, but we saw the movie at a local cinema, using the free gift card that I received as an unexpected bonus with my new contact lenses. Not thought it was great, but I was less
Manuel Antão
Nov 18, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2007
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

Airing Aphorisms: “Night Train to Lisbon” by Pascal Mercier

(Original Review, December 21st 2007)

NB: Read in German.

Not every difficult book is by definition a good one - not every challenge is worth taking.

A good writer can do both, like Ishiguro. Write a book for the mainstream readers, to pick them up where they stand and travel with them. Or write a book so obscure that only very few will even want to go on that journey, those books
I’ve gone a bit off writing reviews lately. On the other hand, this book made me want to write something to put my thoughts on it into some shape.

Incoherent Thought Number One

The protagonist, a teacher of dead languages in Bern, is inspired by this book he comes across to quit his job and travel to Portugal to find out more about the writer of the book, Prado. Many reviewers who hated this novel have commented how utterly new-ageishly purile the comments in the book are, more like the thoughts
There were the people who read and the others. Whether you were a reader or a non-reader - it was soon apparent. There was no greater distinction between people.

Gregorius is a philologist, a middle aged high school teacher of ancient languages in Bern, Switzerland. He’s stuck in his ways without realising it when a chance encounter with a Portuguese woman on a bridge and the discovery of a book by Amadeu de Prado inspire him to walk out of his job and go to Lisbon. Unlikely? Gregorius’ love of a
Metodi Markov
Сигурно е вярно това което хората казват - за всяка книга си има време и място. Имам тази от над седем години, пренесох я с мен в друга страна и посегнах към нея едва преди броени дни, сам не знам по каква причина и за да пропадна тотално в историята ѝ.

Тя има два вида читатели - такива, които се плъзгат по повърхността ѝ и такива, които остават завинаги завладени от могъществото на човешкия гений и силата на писаното слово вътре в нея.

Чета предимно за удоволствие, но не съм безразличен към обра
Apr 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: people interested in language, or Portuguese political history, or thoughtful mysteries
Recommended to Tricia by: Denise, Ernie
This book took me a long, long time to read, but I am glad I stuck with it. A very philosophical book -- it asks the reader to imagine what would happen if you questioned everything about your life and started a new existence.
The main character in this book does exactly that, using a book written by a Portuguese doctor to as a tool for self-discovery.

If you want to be prompted to think more deeply about life, who you truly are, and about human nature in general, read this book.
Odai Al-Saeed
رواية طويلة النفس تتعمق في روح السبر عن أغوار الذات وتنشد تلك الحالة في البحث عن مكنونها حتى لو تأخرت وشاخت
دعوة خالصة للتغيير وحالة خاصة تتحدث عنها رواية لشخص رتيب يقرر أن ينتفض من حالته النمطية الرتيبة وهو في السابعة والخمسين من العمر .... التقاءه مصادفة بمرأة وحصوله على كتاب لكاتب فلسفي يقلب حياته رأساً على عقب ... تتقاطع الرواية وتتداخل ضمن قالب فلسفي عميق هادئ يتطلب جلد وصبر لمواصلة قراءته فهو ليس ذلك النوع من الكتب الذي يتخذ من الإثارة وقوداً له فعلى العكس تماماً سوف تأتي الأحداث تماماً هي
Apr 30, 2009 rated it liked it
Why would you give me this book to read? Why? You didn’t like it. At the time I was too pleased to have a present to care. You could have put anything in my hands and I’d have been delighted. A pen, a purl, a plum… But this? Pah!
At the time, I thought it might still be a good story though. It looked to be a quiet, interior journey. Our man, Gregorius, has a thing for words. I can relate. But not in the way I relate at the beginning of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Gregorius is no Belle
May 22, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a fabulous book. I know I will go back to this one to reread passages.

To me this wasn't about philosophy. This was a book about how we live or don't live, about who we are and the myriad levels of identity we all have and how much we can ever really know or not know someone.

It's about flawed people finding some sort of salvation in their own humanity - or not being able to accept their flawed humanity.

If you're looking for gripping clever plots with tight action, go dig up one of the endles
Dec 22, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Magrat Ajostiernos
Bueno, finalmente abandono este libro después de haber logrado leer 150 páginas con mucho esfuerzo... Quizás hubiera continuado intentándolo porque realmente no está mal escrito y todo el trasfondo de la dictadura en Portugal tenía muy buena pinta, pero son 520 páginas. No me veo con fuerzas para aguantar más los quejidos de nuestro protagonista, al que desde el primer momento no he podido evitar aborrecer por anodino y cansino.
Quizás no era el mejor momento para leer un libro tan denso y descr
Nov 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A story like this only comes along once every few years and storytelling like this is just as rare. I didn't want this book to end, which is very meta because it is a book about a lover of literature who falls in love with an out-of-print memoir from a kindred spirit. The protagonist, like me, dreads finishing his treasured book.

There is so much nobility, intelligence, and heart in these characters that I am truly sad that I will never really know them in real life. I was almost honored to spen

Description: Night Train to Lisbon follows Raimund Gregorius, a fifty-seven-year-old Classics scholar, on a journey that takes him across Europe. Abandoning his job and his life, and travelling with a dusty old book as his talisman, he heads for Lisbon in search of clues to the life of the book's Portuguese author, Amadeu de Prado. As he gets swept up in his quest, he finds that the journey is also one of self-discovery, as he re-encounters all the decisions he has made - and not made - in his l
Jun 26, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: No One
The hype for this book (over two million copies sold) is inexplicable. Although the central character Gregorius is a classical linguist with a supposedly impregnable gift for recognizing and treasuring beautiful poetry, the entire story here hinges on his suddenly fleeing his life in pursuit of an elusive and patently insipid author named Amadeu Prado. Prado's bathetic meditations fill the pages of this novel: a source of continual inspiration for Gregorius, these sections were a source of almos ...more
Nov 10, 2008 rated it it was ok
The book suffers from significant problems. The English translation from the German is wooden; the book is too long; the editing is bad (e.g., a Greek word from Homer that is significant to the plot is misread [I hope] from the author's or translator's manuscript and mangled in print); and the endgame is botched (to borrow from the omnipresent chess references that weigh the book down almost as much as the endless poor imitations of Pessoa). The premise had promise, and some of the characters we ...more
Ebtihal Abuali
Jun 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
قطار الليل إلى لشبونة
للكاتب باسكال ميرسييه

لوصف الرواية سأستعين بافتتاحية أورهان باموك لروايته (الحياة الجديدة) حيث تبدأ تلك الرواية بهذه العبارة: (قرأت ذات يوم كتابا، فتغيرت حياتي كلها).

ان هذه هي ثيمة رواية قطار الليل إلى لشبونة، فقد قرأ غريغورز كتابا غير حياته. ان ما أثار انتباهي في البداية هو التشابه بين الروايتين في جانب اللجوء إلى رحلة فعلية، حين يكون الانسان متجها إلى نفسه. في الحياة الجديدة يركب الراوي الحافلات تلو الاخرى بحثا عن الحياة الجديدة، ذاهبا الى ذلك المكان الذي يمكنه انه يجدها في
This is a book which can be read on different levels! At least for me. I can think about a paragraph and the import of those lines OR I can read it for the story from start to finish. Some lines are priceless. Some lines, I just think: What??!!!

I am nearing the end! What is going to happen?
It ends perfectly.

This book is very philosophical! Definitely not for everyone, and it is kind of wordy, but boy is there a lot to think about.....

Some reviewers remark that it is poorly translated from the Ge
Feb 11, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: philosophy, portugal
I noticed that this book evokes very different reactions, from admiration to disgust, and oddly enough, this is also one of the themes of the book: how different the perception of people can be, especially about each other; close friends, partners, even very close family can see or feel each other fundamentally wrong.
Pascal Mercier (pseudonym of Swiss philosopher Peter Bieri) has written a philosophical book, but packaged as an exciting story in a concrete setting, in the line of Voltaire's Cand
Jan 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: svizzera

Il professor Gregorius, insegnante svizzero di mezza età molto razionale e prevedibile, parte per Lisbona portando con sé le pagine di un libro, "Un orafo delle parole", di tale Amadeu do Prado, folgorato da una frase del libro “Se è così, se possiamo vivere solo una piccola parte di quanto è in noi, che ne è del resto?”
A Lisbona va in cerca di notizie sulla vita dell’autore e attraverso la vita di Amadeu impara a farsi domande riguardo la propria vita e a cercare le risposte che non aveva mai t
Jul 13, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: contemporary
Coming from a Philosophy professor, I was a bit skeptical to get into the book first, but then I was drawn into the book when the protagonist, Gregorius, also a professor, leaves his stagnant and monotonous life behind on an impulse, and boards a train for Lisbon, to understand the tragic end of a writer.

What is the story ?
The main character, Raimund Gregorius, is a teacher of classics, who has lead a very tedious life, and that one day, out of the blue, decides to leave his job, go to Lisbon a
Učitaj se!
May 07, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Čitanje ovog romana je poput trčanja na duge staze: dobar start, ali onda slijedi usporavanje i čuvanje energije za do pred kraj. Knjizi me privukao sinopsis na koricama, u kojem je navedena Gregoriusova potraga za tajanstvenim pjesnikom, koja me pak podsjetila na Zafonovu 'Sjenu vjetra', roman koji me oduševio, ali sličnost s kojim je ovdje ipak bilo možda malo pretjerano za očekivati.

Opis radnje naveden u sinopsisu naveo me da očekujem neku vrstu pustolovine, ali ovaj roman nije zapravo o pust
Jan 22, 2011 rated it did not like it
Inexplicably bad. Translator's fault, in part? Who knows. I wanted to like - nay, love - this, because an old man at a bar recommended it to me as a book that had changed his life. Instead, I found myself desperate to be done with it. The main character, Gregorius, an uptight teacher of classical languages at a Swiss school, inexplicably quits his job and drops everything after a chance encounter with a mysterious Portuguese woman. Portuguese, you see, is the one language he doesn't know, and he ...more
Jan 25, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 04, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Amadeu Prado...

Okurken hayatına adım adım yaklaştığım, hikayesini Raimund Gregorius ile birlikte öğrenirken meraka kapıldığım karakter. Ozellikle "inanc" uzerine yaptigi Latince konusmayi okurken cok seyi dusundugumu soyleyebilirim. Okuyan herkes Pradonun yazdıklarinda kendinden bir seyler bulacaktir sanirim. "Raimund Gregorius’un hayatında her şeyi değiştirecek olan gün, öteki pek çok gün gibi başladı..." Hepimizin hayatında oldugu gibi. :)

Bir çok yere postit ile belirtec koydum. Tadımlık bir
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Pascal Mercier is the pseudonym of Peter Bieri, a Swiss writer and philosopher.
Bieri studied philosophy, English studies and Indian studies in both London and Heidelberg.
“We leave something of ourselves behind when we leave a place, we stay there, even though we go away. And there are things in us that we can find again only by going back there.” 1031 likes
“A feeling is no longer the same when it comes the second time. It dies through the awareness of its return. We become tired and weary of our feelings when they come too often and last too long.” 263 likes
More quotes…