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Night Train to Lisbon Paperback – 1 Feb 2009

3.2 out of 5 stars 122 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Books; Main edition (1 Feb. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1843547139
  • ISBN-13: 978-1843547136
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.8 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (122 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 33,852 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"* 'One reads this book almost breathlessly, can hardly put it down... A handbook for the soul, mind and heart.' Die Zeit (Germany) 'If you liked Carlos Ruiz Zafon's The Shadow of the Wind, you'll love international bestseller, Night Train to Lisbon.' Image 'Night Train to Lisbon is a novel of ideas that reads like a thriller: an unsentimental journey that seems to transcend time and space. Every character, every scene, is evoked with an incomparable economy and a tragic nobility redolent of the mysterious hero, whom we only ever encounter through the eyes of others... Pascal Mercier now takes his rightful place among our finest European novelists.' Daniel Johnson, Sunday Telegraph 'A meditative novel that builds uncanny power...Night Train to Lisbon maintains a remarkable immediacy that makes for a rare reading pleasure.' Joseph Olshan, San Francisco Chronicle"

About the Author

Pascal Mercier was born in 1944 in Bern, Switzerland, and currently lives in Berlin, where he is a professor of philosophy. Night Train to Lisbon is his third novel, but his first that has been translated into English.


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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Gaia is absolutely right. I'm pretty sure this is a terrific book, and my impression is that it is quite poetically written. The translation, though, is lumpy and seems to rob the prose of the lyricism I'm sure is there. The typos and proof reading errors are just unforgivable, and again make the reading hard and annoying going (a simple spell check test would have picked up some of the many words which run together). If it weren't for the intriguing nature of the story, I'd say don't buy this at all until the publisher has sorted out the basics above.
However, if this is the only translation / version available to you, then persevere. The founding premise is beguiling: middle aged man has surprising experience and walks away from his comfortable life... and catches a train to pursue the thoughts of a troubled, enchanting, and long dead soul. He's not an absconder in the Stonehouse sense, so don't come to this looking for adventure. Come prepared to be provoked into thinking, sometimes slightly spooked and annoyed, and to remember that it wasn't so long ago that Portugal was not the holiday haven it is today.
Just don't buy it if rotten line-editing and makes you mad... you'll be frothing!
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Format: Paperback
If Pascal Mercier ever had to read his book in 'English' HE'D be giving Atlantic a piece of his formidable mind. Ugly words like 'gotten' may be the norm in the USA but don't belong in a work like this, and like the other reviewers I feel that this poor translation does not do the book justice. And just when you're getting excited by one of the brilliantly thought-provoking passages, along comes another teeth-gnashing typo to take the edge off.
Having got that off my chest, I have to say that this book rises above the translator's poor endeavour, and if you're patient and prepared to 'read between the errors' provides a great deal of food for thought. It's certainly made me ask some pertinent questions of my own life.
Lucky German readers will have had a pretty amazing experience.
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Format: Kindle Edition
From looking at the reviews so far, this book seems to pretty equally divide people between love, hate and indifference. For me, I loved it. I bought it on a complete whim, mainly since it professes itself to be similar to my favourite book of all time, "The Shadow of the Wind". And I agree, if you enjoyed that book, I would recommend this one for having a similar style and plot.

To summarise, an ageing professor of ancient languages at a school in Bern meets an enigmatic Portuguese woman and runs away to Lisbon on a whim; where he slowly unravels the life of the author of the mysterious book he takes with him. In similar fashion to "Shadow of the Wind", characters and events gradually emerge and add further pieces to an ever growing puzzle. Along the journey, the author explores the themes of language, identity, self-knowledge, regret, resentment and retrospect; partially through the novel itself and partly through the many extracts from the writing of Prado, the character whose life the protagonist is investigating.

To put it quite simply, from very early on I knew this book was not one that you simply read, but one that you almost live. You go on a journey of self discovery along with Gregorius, and are encouraged to think quite deeply about many aspects of yourself and your own way of looking at the world. Mercier's exploration of culture and language also fascinated me, as a linguist and translator myself, as he looks into our relationship with language; the way language feels, the effects it can have on us and how it is linked to our individual identity. Unfortunately, the translator of the novel itself does not seem to have done the best possible job, and the typos are actually quite frequent and noticeable.
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Format: Paperback
I have just finished reading this wonderful book, so linguistically fascinating, so rooted in language and its use. For me it was a very rich journey - but then I am 60 years old and a teacher of language and literature and so it speaks directly to my own experience.

I have seldom found a book to be as moving as this one. It is brilliantly constructed from a slender beginning - but then, one of its premises is that things happen by chance, just happen, for no particular reason. From what tenuous thread of chance do events in our own lives hang? Mundus's experiences turn out to be a development of that idea.

The book will sustain reading and reading time and time again, and I believe the most suited readers will be ones approaching retirement who will instinctively know what Mundus, and Pascal Mercier, mean and feel. The themes of the book are chance, possibilities, guilt, responsibility, communication, causality, life, death, justice, love, poetry, politics, the inhumanity of man.... the grand classics... They are so brilliantly dealt with, so expertly wrapped, so intriguingly told that I was kept as if anchored to my reading of the story and I felt like buying a ticket to Lisbon myself now, immediately.

The thing is : it's as easy as that : just go ahead : do it. You only live once. Experience the movement of life and get close to people. Engage.

I wept at the end of this book; I really did not want it to end.

There are some niggles about the translation, printing errors, words missed out etc.. but these are totally without any ultimate effect on the poetry and power of this book. Addtionally, its imagery and geographical accuracy are very powerful and you really feel you are in Bern, Lisbon and Salamanca.

The bottom line is : if you're near 60 or contemplating retirement, this book is a MUST READ. Five stars. Superb......
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