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Embers (Random House Large Print) Hardcover – Large Print, 1 Jun 2003

4.4 out of 5 stars 76 customer reviews

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Product details

  • 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)
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Product description

Amazon Review

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.

Review

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.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By P. Millar VINE VOICE on 15 Aug. 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The type of book where the world melts away around you as you sit, read and dream.
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
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Format: Hardcover
Whilst I am always sceptical of a book that has received so much publicity, I bought it on the strength of its reviews. I was not disappointed and found it a compelling read. Its only weakness is perhaps in its translation. While it is clearly a book with its main strength in its literary imagery, the two words 'as if' crop up so many times as to be irritating.
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
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Format: Paperback
Embers by Sandor Marai was a lovely gem. It is a languid read, being more about an elderly General, Henrik reflecting on how he has spent the latter part of his life separated from his best friend, Konrad. It is forty years since some event drove them apart and now he is coming to see him.

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.
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By Susannah B (SusieB) TOP 100 REVIEWER on 29 Nov. 2015
Format: Hardcover
In Sandor Marai's novel 'Embers' we meet Henrik, an elderly general, living a hermetic existence in his castle home situated at the foot of the Carpathian mountains, who is awaiting the arrival his childhood friend, Konrad, a man he has not seen for over forty years. The last day that Henrik and Konrad spent together all those decades ago, is imprinted indelibly on Henrik's mind, for this was the day when he realized that his close friend, with whom he had spent much of his childhood years, had betrayed him - and in more ways than one. To say more would reveal too much of this brief and lyrical story, but suffice it to say, the reason for the estrangement between the two old friends, is slowly and intriguingly revealed throughout the course of the story.

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.

3.5 Stars.
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Format: Paperback
It is always interesting when a book from the past - Embers was written in 1942 - gets rediscovered or translated for the first time. A similar thing happened recently with the excellent Suite Française. This is a very different kind of book, though, a nostalgic evocation of the colourful, pluralistic days (for some) of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The story is simple: an aging General sits in his castle in the Carpathian Mountains awaiting his inseparable boyhood friend who he had not seen for forty-one years. However, he had not seen him because his friend had fled after a devastating act of betrayal which had left their lives shattered. Everything is arranged to reproduce the exact conditions, even the meals, of their final meeting before the incident. A profound meditation on the nature of friendship and personal loyalty, much of the novel revolves around a moving monologue by the General to his almost silent friend recounting their lives together and the reality of their duty to each other. Of course, a woman is involved. The evening gets darker and the wine flows as freely as the words. Strongly elegiac in nature Embers is a beautifully written story, rather slow in pace but short enough to overcome that, and is of considerable historical interest. It does, though, contain rather anachronistic notions of pride and duty, and the quaint view that the strongest bond between two human beings is that between two men. Plato may have believed that but I don't. And whatever betrayal someone had committed against me I could never have afforded the luxury of sitting around in my castle and moping about it for forty years. Like most people, I would have to have got a job! Strongly recommended, though.
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