- Hardcover: 352 pages
- Publisher: Random House Large Print Publishing; 1 Lrg edition (Jun. 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0375432353
- ISBN-13: 978-0375432354
- Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 2.4 x 19.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (76 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 313,440 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Embers (Random House Large Print) Hardcover – Large Print, 1 Jun 2003
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In Sándor Márai's Embers, two old men, once the best of friends, meet after a 41-year break in their relationship. They dine together, taking the same places at the table that they had assumed on the last meal they shared, then sit beside each other in front of a dying fire, one of them near-silent, the other one, his host, slowly and deliberately tracing the course of their dead friendship. This sensitive, long-considered elaboration of one man's lifelong grievance is as gripping as any adventure story, and explains why Maáai's forgotten 1942 masterpiece is being compared with the work of Thomas Mann. In some ways, M´rai's work is more modern than Mann's. His simplicity and succinct, unadorned lyricism may call to mind Latin American novelists like Gabriel García Márquez, or even Italo Calvino. It is the tone of magical realism, although Márai's work is only magical in the sense that he completely engages his reader, spinning a web of words as his wounded central character describes his betrayal and abandonment at the hands of his closest friend. Even the setting, an old castle, evokes dark fairy tales.
The story of the rediscovery of Embers is as fascinating as the novel itself. A celebrated Hungarian novelist of the 1930s, Márai survived the war but was persecuted by the Communists after they came to power. His books were suppressed, even destroyed, and he was forced to flee his country in 1948. He died in San Diego in 1989, one year before the neglected Embers was finally reprinted in his native land. This reprint was discovered by the Italian writer and publisher Roberto Calasso, and the subsequent editions have become international bestsellers. All of his novels are now slated for American publication. --Regina Marler --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
As masterly and lovely a novel as one could ask for...(a)compact masterpiece...Embers is perfect. -- Washington Post
Lustrous...a jewelled antique (with) a musical command of motifs, variations, tempos and cadences...thrilling. -- New York Times Book Review --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
You not so much as read this book as watch the words unfold, creating a cinematic masterpiece of emotion and eloquence.
The book is the age old tale of three people, 2 men and a woman, who are, tragically, bound together by friendship, love and passion. It is also a muse upon life, death and true friendship.
Few modern writers can match the sheer love of language and story telling which this book exudes and, although it has been translated from the German - which in turn was translated from the Hungarian - I feel it loses nothing of its power and intensity.
If you love literature then you should love this book
On reflection, the immensely enthusiastic reviews state 'a conversation' between two ageing friends that had not seen each other for forty-one years. There was little conversation between the two men. The narrative was almost entirely Henrik's. Whilst this is a very clever achievement, I kept wanting Konrad to at least say something to give his character more dimension.
To conclude, although I have my criticisms, there are few (perhaps no) writers of today that can write such prose of such quality
It is through a long drawn out conversation, which is definitely more of a monologue (on Henrik’s part) that we come to see what happened to cause their estrangement.
It is a peculiar style for a whole novel, but I would say its strength lies in the time, settings and sentiments that are conjured through the conversation.
In the castle Henrik has lived in his whole life is described as: “The castle was a closed world, like a great granite mausoleum full of the moldering bones of generations of men and women from earlier times, in their shrouds of slowly disintegrating gray silk or black cloth. it enclosed silence itself as if it were a prisoner persecuted for his beliefs, wasting away numbly, unshaven and in rags on a pile of musty rotting straw in a dungeon. It also enclosed memories as if they were the dead, memories that lurked in damp corners the way mushrooms, bats, rats, and beetles lurk in the mildewed cellars of old houses…”
“The castle was a closed world, like a great granite mausoleum full of the moldering bones of generations of men and women from earlier times, in their shrouds of slowly disintegrating gray silk or black cloth. It enclosed silence itself as if it were a prisoner persecuted for his beliefs, wasting away numbly, unshaven and in rags on a pile of musty rotting straw in a dungeon.Read more ›
Originally written in Hungarian in 1942, translated into German and subsequently translated from German into English (maybe not ideal - as things sometimes get lost in one translation, let alone two), Sandor Marai's atmospheric novel pulls the reader immediately into his story of love and loss, friendship and fallibility, and makes for fairly compelling reading. However, although this novel certainly engaged my interest, I felt that too much of the novel was related from the perspective of Henrik, who reveals his story in a series of lengthy monologues, and ultimately the reader (or this one, anyhow) longs for the author to allow Konrad to have a voice. That said, I found this an unusual and rather absorbing story and certainly worth the read, but not the 'masterpiece' I was expecting from the quotes on the cover.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I began reading this and couldn't let it down. It's the language, the words and the imagery they create that make this novel so good.Published 7 months ago by luiza dewison
The book is well written and flows quite well (hence the two stars). So you read patiently until the end waiting for the mistery to be explained and... nothing! Read morePublished 13 months ago by Mark Wolves
Reading that book after some recommendation - and it is a very distinctive read.Published 19 months ago by Astrid Illner
This is a strange book. It is about a meeting between two men who were great friends in their youth but who have not seen or been in contact with each other for 41 years. Read morePublished 19 months ago by Diana, Dublin
Although this book was written a long time ago, the writing remains fresh despite the time setting of the story (in the early 1900s). Read morePublished on 18 Feb. 2015 by Book fiend