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A Different Sea

Claudio Magris

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Early this century Enrico, a young intellectual, leaves the abundantly diverse Austro-Hungarian city of Gorizia with its mixed population and culture, to spend several years living on the Patagonian pampas, alone with his ancient Greek texts, his flocks and every now and then a woman. He has been taught by his closest friend, Carlo, a philosopher/poet who commits suicide in his early twenties, to search for an authentic life, free of social falsehoods. But in his search for this unattainable goal, Enrico destroys every chance he has of a normal existence; even after his return to live a life of ever-increasing isolation by the Istrian seashore, his attempts at human intercourse, at meaningful love, are thwarted. In recounting the life and character of Enrico, ostensibly one of Life's failures, Claudio Magris paints a remarkably shrewd and observant picture of a whole world in ferment, that of the decaying Austro-Hungarian empire, shaken to its foundations by the Great War, and emerging from the German occupation and the Communist revolution ripe for disintegration and forever seeking, as does Enrico, for a reason to go on living.

Publishers Weekly Review

Nov 28, 1994 – Like its protagonist, this enigmatic novel yields pleasures grudgingly, with an unwillingness that borders on the perverse. In 1909, Enrico Mreule leaves the town of Gorizia in ``his small corner of the Danubian Empire'' and boards a steamship to Argentina-partly to escape military service, partly on a philosophic quest. While this taciturn dreamer spends the next 13 years as a solitary gaucho in Patagonia, a world war takes place and his best friend from childhood-a philosopher named Carlo who idealized Enrico-kills himself. By the time Enrico returns home, in fact, so much has changed that he feels as if ``he has left rather than returned.'' Resenting the expectations he senses others have for him, Enrico continues to the end of his days estranged from himself and those around him, a virtual misanthrope. Magris (Danube) writes vividly and learnedly, but readers will have difficulty sharing Carlo's vision of Enrico-he may instead appear more a cantankerous eccentric than ``a confident and dignified conscience.'' For all its philosophical posturing, this book offers little genuine wisdom.
A Different Sea
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  • $9.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Fiction & Literature
  • Published: Aug 03, 1995
  • Publisher: Random House
  • Seller: The Random House Group Ltd.
  • Print Length: 112 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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