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on 19 April 2001
Well,it would appear that this is not one of the world's best sellers, but the world is missing out. This is a beautiful book. I have read this 3 or 4 times and would happily do so again. It's a book that looks at the past with nostalgia and the present with humour but a tinge of sadness. Josef Skvorecky runs through three stages of a life - war time Tcheckoslovakia, under the communists and finally in exile. This is a glorious magical work to touch the soul and leave it enriched.
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on 3 March 2016
I got through over 300 pages of this. Parts were interesting, which was why I stuck with it for so long, but I had the impression always that these were the musings of a very arrogant man who assumed that everything he said was deep and fascinating. I did not like his attitude to others. I finally abandoned it when the (middle-aged) author led a pleasant young girl on, got her to strip naked and then rejected her. That seemed to sum up his disagreeable attitude, his unshakeable arrogance and his lack of empathy. Intriguing but deeply distasteful.
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on 23 August 2002
World war two and the communist occupation of czechslovakia as seen through the eyes of a talented writer living in Canada. This is a wonderfully relaxing, yet informative read filled with literary references. Quite possibly this is the masterpiece that the writer makes reference to wanting to write throughout the story. I definitely recommend that you buy this book.
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on 13 August 2015
This is a book of quiet, darkly humoured genius that should be read and re-read by anyone who wants to know how the world really works.
The genius of communism is summed up by the old guy who rolls an empty barrel round and round the factory in order to look like he is working - it is such a wickedly funny image. The discussion on whether it is better to be shot by a German bullet or a Russian bullet is likewise a piece of brilliant comedic writing that compresses so many things- here is someone who understands human beings in all their infinite stupidity. Wicked.
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on 5 June 2003
An epic work, a meditation of life under dictatorship and in the 'free' west. A tale of the failings of Communism but also the drawbacks of capitalism. Milan Kundera has said that he belives The Engineer of Human Souls to be one of his favourite works.I'd recoomend this to all.
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on 11 August 2013
This book seems to go on for ever, but you never get bored of reading it.
The story covers decades of change both in the life of the main character and in his country.
I've always loved Skvorecky for his commentary on the changing regimes in Czechoslovakia and for the depth and honesty of his insight. This story is by far the deepest and most honest of all the books I've read so far by this author.
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on 22 December 2007
This book is an old favourite of mine. I keep reading it, lending it out, and then having to purchase replacement copies. A long, but pleasurable read - it reminds me of a heady blend of modern Kafka and Central European surrealism, grounded in personal perspectives. The retrospectives, from an exile's perspective act like a photographic negative that sharpens images and characters, giving them dimensions and contrasts. It provides a complex narrative that flows like a river, into which one could deep in and out, as the moods demand. I just wish that the narratives were even longer... but it could hardly get better....!
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on 6 November 2012
This book does not live up to the hype. The style is plodding and the content disjointed. The experience of reading it is one of wasted time. The only good thing is the title, and even that is not original.
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