A Different Sea by Claudio Magris

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Synopsis

Early this century Enrico, a young intellectual, leaves the abundantly diverse Austro-Hungarian city of Gorizia with its mixed population and culture, to spend several years living on the Patagonian pampas, alone with his ancient Greek texts, his flocks and every now and then a woman. He has been taught by his closest friend, Carlo, a philosopher/poet who commits suicide in his early twenties, to search for an authentic life, free of social falsehoods. But in his search for this unattainable goal, Enrico destroys every chance he has of a normal existence; even after his return to live a life of ever-increasing isolation by the Istrian seashore, his attempts at human intercourse, at meaningful love, are thwarted. In recounting the life and character of Enrico, ostensibly one of Life's failures, Claudio Magris paints a remarkably shrewd and observant picture of a whole world in ferment, that of the decaying Austro-Hungarian empire, shaken to its foundations by the Great War, and emerging from the German occupation and the Communist revolution ripe for disintegration and forever seeking, as does Enrico, for a reason to go on living.
 

About Claudio Magris

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Claudio Magris has been a professor of Germanic studies at the University of Trieste since 1978. He is the author of Danube, a best-selling novel now translated into more than twenty languages, and in 2001 he was awarded the Erasmus Prize. He has translated into Italian the works of such authors as Ibsen, Kleist, Schnitzler, Buchner, and Grillparzer. Anne Milano Appel is a professional translator. Her translation of Stefano Bortolussi's novel Head Above Water was the winner of the 2004 Northern California Book Award for Translation.
 
Published May 31, 2011 by Vintage Digital. 112 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Travel, Education & Reference. Fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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The trio meet to discuss philosophy, read, and derive ``enormous pleasure from their shared view of the world.'' For Carlo, a philosopher, Enrico is ``the friend who would fill all space and embody the world I was searching for.'' Nino also shares these high opinions, opinions confirmed by Enrico...

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The Independent

There is a wonderful moment when Enrico confronts an ancient, profusely branching Patagonian tree and considers it untidy: 'Shape comes from reduction.' But the measured prose, whose fineness in M S Spurr's English version hints at virtual perfection in the original Italian, always leaves us with...

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Publishers Weekly

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By the time Enrico returns home, in fact, so much has changed that he feels as if ``he has left rather than returned.'' Resenting the expectations he senses others have for him, Enrico continues to the end of his days estranged from himself and those around him, a virtual misanthrope.

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