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Night Roads (European Classics) [Paperback]

Gaito Gazdanov , Laszlo Dienes , Justin Doherty
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
RRP: 12.02
Price: 11.95 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Night Roads (European Classics) + The Spectre of Alexander Wolf + Journey by Moonlight
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Product details

  • Paperback: 244 pages
  • Publisher: Northwestern University Press; 1 edition (28 May 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810125587
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810125582
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 13.3 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 570,131 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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5.0 out of 5 stars Tough-minded, beautifully written, atmospheric 10 April 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Gazdanov for me has been an exciting discovery over the last few months. His "Spectre of Alexander Wolf" is excellent, but whereas that is a yarn, this is a reflective and largely autobiographical account of the seamy side of inter-war Paris, from the view of a Russian emigre who had survived civil war and was trying to live and write on the breadline. He casts a cold but clear eye on the pimps, beggars, drunks and prostitutes who inhabit the demi-monde. The pictures he paints are vivid and the stories generally end badly. It's totally convincing.
The book is particularly well translated, despite a few lapses into modern slang.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Can't wait for more translations 30 Mar 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
After having read the first two novels by Gasdanov, this set of descriptions, impressions and thoughts fully met my high expectations. I cannot help but wonder, how this great author, in my opinion one of the greatest of the 20th century, could have remained unknown until now! Great read, wise, insightful, beautiful!
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What if Travis Bickle were Nabokov? 5 Dec 2011
By S. Smith-Peter - Published on Amazon.com
This amazing novel, which I'd give six stars to if I could, tells of the life of a Russian emigre taxi driver in pre-WWII Paris, where he sees the same foul underbelly of the city as did Travis Bickle, played by Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver, but describes it with the beautiful prose of a Nabokov. The contrast is fascinating.

Nocturnal Paris is the real subject of the novel, with its lights and loneliness. The characters range from an alcoholic philosopher and aged courtesan to a former street prostitute and factory worker. The main character is a man of high culture but no money and no way to get out of his life as a taxi driver. He's tried everything else and knows that even if he quit driving, he'd have to come back for the money. The characters come into his cab in a stream of people looking for a way out of their loneliness. The other major setting is at a small cafe in a down-and-out part of Paris where we see other people trying to make a living.

The narrator is accepting of the imperfections of his fellow night dwellers, but sometimes his underlying sense of futility shows through. For example, he tries not to get involved with the problems of the people around him because he feels it won't make any difference. And yet, there's something very attractive about the narrator. One understands why people are always trying to get his attention and his help. One character says of the narrator: "Someone who I know and who's not insane, what joy!" (113) Unlike Bickle, the narrator never does go insane, although plenty of people do around him.

The sense we get of nighttime Paris is so real as to be almost overwhelming. This is a true city of the plain, ever darkening and further spreading. Although the lives of the characters are by and large hopeless, the writing is so beautiful that it creates a sense of driving through an ever-changing, dirty, transcendent Paris.
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