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Celestial Harmonies Paperback – 17 Jan 2005


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Product details

  • Paperback: 880 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; New Ed edition (17 Jan. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007141483
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007141487
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.8 x 5.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 743,989 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

‘Esterhazy’s writing is agile and compelling … The polyform narration is fascinating in its ambition, its effect rather like a literary one-man band.’ TLS

‘An unusual and remarkable book … Enthralling and enjoyable.’ Adam Zamoyski, Spectator

‘This novel is an agility class. But it doesn’t seem to matter if the reader is not very agile. All one needs to enjoy it is enough time and a certain willingness to step along with a very dancing sort of writer.’ Independent

About the Author

Peter Esterhazy, a member of one of Europe’s most prominent families, was born in Budapest in 1950. He is one of Hungary’s most innovative contemporary writers. His works, published mostly in Europe, are considered to be significant contributions to post-war literature.


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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Numero Uno on 14 April 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Peter Esterhazy was born in Budapest in 1950 and has a degree in mathematics.This is a highly original book, though the author, as so often with tongue in cheek, lists dozens of writers he has quoted. It is in the line of novels such as 'Tristram Shandy' with its quirks of narrative and often riotous humour (I'm surprised Rabelais is not quoted among the sources) and 'Ulysses' with its stream- of- consciousness style, which results in a fluid and surprisingly compelling narrative.

The basic theme is Esterhazy's search for the true identity of his parents (his father was a direct descendent of the aristocrat who employed Haydn) set against a history of Hungary over the last two centuries (this is only sketched in and never weighs the book down). The novel is full of surprises, quirky changes of plot - not least, the fact that his parents' origins change from one paragraph to the next.

There is a further surprise when, just halfway through the book, the narrative style becomes simpler, more focused and completely chronological. The author's attitude to his parents become unequivocally warm-hearted without his losing any of his wit. If one is at all perplexed on a first acquaintance with this book, one could even start reading Part II first! Esterhazy's love of language is contagious - and a special mention should be made of the translator, who conveys all the inventiveness of the language and the puns so well that one would never guess English wasn't the original language.

Peter Esterhazy would be my favourite for the Nobel Literature Prize - several lesser authors have won it in the last decade alone.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mb Todd on 8 Sept. 2011
Format: Paperback
Mr. Eszterhazy's "Celestial Harmonies" is probably the worst book I have ever attempted to read and the only book I have ever thrown away. Ripped to pieces and thrown away. Lacking a central narrative and pointlessly jumping between centuries would perhaps be forgivable if the language or imagery could capture and captive the reader. They do neither. The book drivels moronically on from page to painful page, provoking the unfortunate reader with its stupidity. A big fan of Hungarian literature, I had high hopes for this book and after 70 pages preferred to rip it up rather than making money by selling it because I didn't want to inflict it on another reader. Consider yourself warned.
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