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Summer in Baden-Baden

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  783 ratings  ·  106 reviews
Summer in Baden-Baden was acclaimed by The New York Review of Books as "a short poetic masterpiece" and by Donald Fanger in The Los Angeles Times as "gripping, mysterious and profoundly moving."

A complex, highly original novel, Summer in Baden-Baden has a double narrative. It is wintertime, late December: a species of "now." A narrator—Tsypkinis on a train going to Leningr
Paperback, 246 pages
Published September 17th 2003 by New Directions (first published 1981)
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3.78  · 
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May 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Leonid Tsypkin’s Summer in Baden-Baden is a novel about one man’s love for the literature of his country and, in particular, for the writer Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Tsypkin, a medical researcher by day, pursued another, more passionate vocation in the evenings. This remarkable day by day regimen is chronicled by Tsypkin son in the book’s introduction:

Every day, he left at a quarter to eight sharp for his work at the Institute of Poliomyelitis and Viral Encephalitis, situated in a distant suburb of
Susan Sontag enthused over this one and, indeed, it’s a beautiful book. Touching on the lyrical at times, which is amazing considering it was translated from the Russian. It helps to have read some Dostoyevsky, but that’s not essential.
Jul 25, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
Once or twice in our lives, we are fortunate enough to stumble upon a hidden masterpiece, a book so entrancing that its obscurity strikes one not so much as an act of cultural oversight but as a natural disaster, leaving in its wake throngs of readers deprived of the book's great and terrible beauty. Luckily, in recent years the cult of "Summer in Baden-Baden" has grown considerably, with the book finding its way here, as it did in its native Soviet Russia, from friend to awestruck friend, passe ...more
Ben Winch
Nov 25, 2013 rated it liked it
Susan Sontag writes:
The literature of the second half of the twentieth century is a much traversed field, and it seems unlikely that there are still masterpieces in major, intently patrolled languages waiting to be discovered.
‘Intently patrolled’ – I like that! At a time when most publishers won’t accept unsolicited manuscripts, let alone pay them proper attention when they do! When even agents don’t accept them! It’s like some Kafkaesque doorkeeper fable! Maybe in the seventies it was different
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
Leonid Tsypkin strongly felt what now appears to be a universal human need: to be a fan of someone or something. But he was cursed by fate. He lived in a place and at a time when there was no one to worship but God yet God was itself banned as a matter of state policy and there were no rock stars, actors, great athletes, football teams or anything one could substitute for God.

Tsypkin was born in 1926 in Minsk. His parents were Russian jews. He was a young boy when the Stalinist purges, the Grea
Nov 01, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Acaba Susan Sontag bu kitabı sahiplenmese ne olurdu? Sontag’ın önsözde belirttiği hususlar çerçevesinde okudum ama zor bitirdim. Yazar tıp doktoruymuş ve 100’ün üzerinde bilimsel makale yazmış, bu alışkanlığını edebiyat denemesinde de aynen korumuş bence. Yavan ve karışık bir üslup. Cümleler uzun ve her cümlede birkaç tane “tire” (-) işareti var. Bırakın akıcılığı zorluk için kasıtlı yapılmış gibi. Konu da anlaşılması zor ve bilmece gibi, Dosteyevski’leri anlatıyor, arada kendisi de katılıyor. M ...more
Mar 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Seemingly everyone who reads this says "How could such a good book be scarcely known?" (and the circumstances under which it was published at all are remarkable).
The unnamed narrator, basically Tsypkin himself, is taking a train from Moscow to Leningrad in the late 70s in winter - it is dark and cold, the sodium lights of each town flash by. He is reading the "Diary" of Dostoevsky's second wife, Anna, and uses this to retell two episodes from their life together - a summer in Baden-Baden just af
May 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing
"I was on a train, traveling by day, but it was winter-time -- late December, the very depths -- and to add to it the train was heading north -- to Leningrad -- so it was quickly darkening on the other side of the windows -- bright lights of Moscow stations flashing into view and vanishing again behind me like the scattering of some invisible hand . . ."(Leonid Tsypkin, Summer in Baden-Baden, p 1).
So begins a literary doppleganger in the sense that there are two narratives, one of Leningrad and
Jan 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is a strange sort of novel, written by one who never lived to see it published, but withal one of the greatest works produced during the Soviet era. Picture a doctor who is obsessed with the life of Dostoyevsky, who sees his own life as if it were in lock step with that of earlier writer. He recreates his life, and that of his second wife Anna Grigor'yevna, so vividly that I will have a difficult time unlinking it from this work.

Picture this memory of Anna Grigor'yevna's while her husband l
Sep 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
Leonid Tsypkin was a researcher, an author of over 100 scientific papers, by nighttime a pathologist and a writer who wrote for the pleasure and love of literature alone, literally for the drawer. During his lifetime his readership didnt include more than family members and some of his sons friends from University. He was not associated with any of the Soviet dissident circles, the samizdat underground movement and surely not an officially recognized writer. Fortunately Tsypkin managed somehow t ...more
Mar 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
As many of you who follow me on Goodreads probably know by now, Dostoyevsky is my favorite author, and I am incredibly passionate about reading and analyzing his works. Thus, I am often wary about fictitious portrayals of him (for an excellent interpretation, I strongly recommend watching the Russian TV series, "Достоевский: Жизнь, Полная Страстей"-- "Dostoyevsky: A Life Full of Passion"). I had recently read J.M. Coetzee's "The Master of Petersburg", and found it overall disappointing and unfai ...more
Jim Elkins
Oct 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: russian
Wonderful book, if by "wonderful" you also mean claustrophobic, smelly, obsessive, unrewarding, culturally isolated, and erudite beyond any point. This is a slightly fictional recreation of a summer Dostoevsky spent in Baden-Baden, written by a Russian author and Dostoevsky maniac (what is politely known as an "independent scholar") who is otherwise unknown, and now long dead.

Susan Sontag attempts to raise this Lazarus of a manuscript, but it is really all about being dead: Dostoevsky's own lif
Kobe Bryant
Apr 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Wow this guy can really write
Sep 12, 2017 rated it liked it
Avant mon voyage á Baden-Baden la semaine prochaine, je me suis préparé en lisant cette petite allégorie sur Dostovjevski, ces problemes daddtiction de jeux et son séjour á Baden-Baden et ses victories (et beaucoup de défaites) autour des tables de jeux au plus vieux casino dAllemagne dans cette ville de spa mythique dans la région de Schwarzwald. Pour les hard-core fans du plus grand écrivain russe de lhistoire. ...more
This extraordinary novel, first published in 1981, one week before the author's sudden death, was recently brought to the attention of the reading public by critic Susan Sontag just before her death.

The novel dramatizes Fyodor and Anna Dostoyevsky's tempestuous relationship, focusing on a summer trip the couple took to Baden-Baden in 1867. If it were that simple, the novel would still be great. What makes this book a "must read" is that the story of Anna and Fyodor is neatly folded inside an aut
Dec 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2016
It can be difficult not to feel resistant when someone mentions "Sebald" in recommending a book. Sebald is one of the few unimpeachable masters of prose since 1990, with any one of The Emigrants, The Rings of Saturn, or Austerlitz enough to earn him that title.

So you can see what a compliment it is for me to say that this is indeed a fine novel that mines the same sort of vein that Sebald so richly mined. It's a little more focused, in some ways, a looping, streaming, compassionate meditation on
Eileen Souza
Mar 04, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: europe, judaism
This was a simulatneously excellent and awful book, so I'm going to give it 3 stars.

First the good, so you can understand the bad. This book was written by a doctor in 1980 Soviet Union, and snuck out to be published abroad. the author was not a known writer, and because of his particular circumstances, he did not have access to any writings of fiction, biography etc. Because of this, he wrote a book which is completely unique! It's a combination of his musings as he reads a book about Dotoyevsk
Katie Grainger
Feb 04, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I seriously struggled with Summer in Baden-Baden, not because of the subject matter but because of how the book is structured. With no chapters and the incredibly long sentences I found it hard to concentrate on the subject matter. It is probably a ridiculous excuse but I kept looking forward to when the sentence would end- I found it detracted from the story.

However despite my problems with the book the story of Leonid Tsypkin the author is quite fascinating. His love for Russia literature flow
This book contains a story within a story. The narrator of the story is reading the diary of Dostoevsky's second wife while riding a
train to Petersburg(Leningrad),
The book is about Dostoevsky as a writer, a family man, but most of all as a compulsive gambler. The author conveys to us how an intelligent man, who knew he had a problem, stills continues to gamble so much that he has to pawn jewelry and clothing to pay the rent. The gambling takes place in the casino in Baden-Baden, hence the title
The Literary Chick
Dec 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Not an easy read, perhaps owing to out of its 146 pages it has only 172 sentences, but once you get going, it works. Kind of a stream of consciousness narrative from which you can place yourself into the events and feelings as they are occurring. Like being caught in someone's feverish mind. Someone who is vacationing in Baden-Baden, with financial humiliations, a gambling addiction, a rocky marriage, explosive temper, and a creative mind. Told from multiple viewpoints. Disclaimer - I had to sta ...more
Mar 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Por seu contexto de produção, sem que o autor pudesse ter um público com quem dialogasse, juntamente com as limitações de um estado soviético opressor, o livro alcança uma finese técnica e de condução narrativa surpreendente.
Não dou 5 estrelas pois exatamente por suas peculiaridades narrativas, como frases que compõe parágrafos de páginas e a nao utilização de capítulos, o livro precisa de uma atenção redobrada para se captar a fluidez do romance. Infelizmente, num momento corrido da minha vida,
Sep 01, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Another great Susan Sontag recommendation. Tsypkin reminds me very strongly of W.G. Sebald. The same effortless, atmospheric prose, complete with black and white photographs to underline the point. The difference is the fact that Tsypkin uses almost no paragraph breaks, so his prose flows on uninterrupted by any change of direction, blending the author's own experience with that of his hero Dostoyevsky. A must read for all fans of Russian literature
Lazarus P Badpenny Esq
Like the train tracks that carry the narrator northwards to St Petersburg in quest of Fyodor Dostoevsky's last resting place these parallel narratives, illustrated throughout with Tsypkin's own photographs, retrace the events of the Russian writer's life touching upon his professional jealousies, his turbulent marriage, and the addiction to gambling that rendered him indebted to money-lenders and, ultimately, exacerbated his embittered anti-semitism.
Dec 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book is amazing! The essay by Susan Sontag that tells the impossible tale of how this book got published is inspiring to say the least. The short and concise novel tells two stories: one about Dostoevsky and his suffering and the other from the point of view of the author and why he is fascinated with Dostoevsky. Seamlessly!!! It touched such a deep place in me that I had dreams. A must read.
Jul 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant novel on the weakness which is part of creativity (summer in Baden-Baden is a very low point in Dostoevsky's life when he, being a compulsive gambler, gambled everything away - the money he gambled belonged to his heavily pregnant wife who was with him). The other dimension of the novel is a writer trying to deal with his admiration for Dostoevsky in spite of the latter's virulent antisemitism.
Melissa Kapow
Feb 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I have never read a book like this, it's that simple. Page-long sentences, beautiful prose, and a subject that pulls you in and keeps you there. I found myself googling the works of art he was describing and it added another dimension to my appreciation of not only Tsypkin, but Dostoevsky himself. Stellar.
Oct 22, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ένα βιβλίο καλοδουλεμένο, σχεδόν ένα μικρό αριστούργημα, χωρίς υφολογικές φιοριτούρες, ωστόσο αρκετά απαιτητικό λόγω της πληθώρας των διακειμενικών αναφορών του, που ακροβατεί με χάρη ανάμεσα στο μυθιστόρημα και στο λογοτεχνικό δοκίμιο.
Roberta Perez
Aug 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
Conhecer a intimidade de um grande escritor, suas falhas e seus vícios. Saber que o autor deste livro nunca conseguiu colocar o pé para fora da Rússia e mesmo assim consegue descrever lugares por onde nunca passou. Romance curto, bela narrativa e com um conteudo intrigante. Adorei!
Nov 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
So glad I read this slim, intense, layered, brilliant, dense, melancholy book. I didn't expect it to be a love story!
Enjoyed reading this book about Dostoevsky, interesting take on the man. Particularly enjoyed the photographs in this edition of this book.
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Tsypkin was born in Minsk, Soviet Union (now the capital of Belarus), to Russian-Jewish parents, both of whom were medical specialists.

At the start of Stalin's Great Terror, in 1934, Tsypkin's father, Boris, an orthopaedic surgeon, was arrested on trumped-up charges, but was later released after a suicide attempt in which he broke his back.
Two of Boris Tsypkin's sisters and a brother were also arr
“and they had not been privileged to experience the dizzy descent he had surrendered to--and the humiliating things were always median and mediocre, aiming at moderation and discretion--and this was precisely what they were--only an all-consuming, all encompassing idea could liberate a man, make him free and place him above everything else, even if the means of realizing this idea had to be a crime--and all surrendering themselves to such an idea, but even of beginning to comprehend it, and they were all constantly engaged in calculation and circumspection, subordinating their lives to material considerations.” 0 likes
“...but that very thought, that she might become his wife, had for some reason entered his head the very first time she sat in his study at a little round table, diligently taking down in shorthand the words he dictated in his muffled voice—and he had been purposely dry and sharp with her that day, so she would not feel the power she had already gained over him, but when, as he dictated to her, he imagined himself kneeling before her beneath the flickering light of a nearly spent candle and kissing her feet, with her unable to leave because she was his wife, and about to blow out the candle so they could plunge into the passionate, exquisite swim, then his voice became hoarse and he shut his eyes to blot out the sight of this little girl, as he purposely tried to picture her to help restrain his imagination, girl students being as untouchable as postulants...” 0 likes
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