Blindly Claudio Magris, Anne Milano Appel

Series:
The Margellos World Republic of Letters
Format:
Paperback
Publication date:
04 Sep 2012
ISBN:
9780300185362
Imprint:
Yale University Press
Dimensions:
400 pages: 197 x 127 x 25mm

Who is the mysterious narrator of Blindly? Clearly a recluse and a fugitive, but what more of him can we discern? Baffled by the events of his own life, he muses, "When I write, and even now when I think back on it, I hear a kind of buzzing, blathered words that I can barely understand, gnats droning around a table lamp, that I have to continually swat away with my hand, so as not to lose the thread". Claudio Magris, one of Europe's leading authors and cultural philosophers, offers as narrator of Blindly a madman. Yes, but a pazzo lucido, a lucid madman, a single narrative voice populated by various characters.

He is Jorgen Jorgenson, the nineteenth-century adventurer who became king of Iceland but was condemned to forced labour in the Antipodes. He is also Comrade Cippico, a militant anti-communist, imprisoned for years in Tito's gulag on the island Goli Otok. And he is the many partisans, prisoners, sailors, and stowaways who have encountered the perils of travel, war, and adventure. In a shifting choral monologue - part confession, part psychiatric session - a man remembers (invents, falsifies, hides, screams out) his life, a voyage into the nether regions of history, and in particular the twentieth century.

Claudio Magris has been a professor of Germanic studies at the University of Trieste since 1978. He is the author of Danube, a best-selling novel now translated into more than twenty languages, and in 2001 he was awarded the Erasmus Prize. He has translated into Italian the works of such authors as Ibsen, Kleist, Schnitzler, Buchner, and Grillparzer. Anne Milano Appel is a professional translator. Her translation of Stefano Bortolussi's novel Head Above Water was the winner of the 2004 Northern California Book Award for Translation.

'A subtle, intelligent, and delicate story that, like a work of filigrane, you can read as a novel of adventures. A magnificent book.' Mario Vargas Llosa

'Magris is a poet as well as a polymath. He produces images of the sea that melt into one another with lyrical precision […] he creates a fine fictional vessel that moves through history with resolution and grace' Tom Deveson, The Sunday Times and The Sunday Times Ireland

'Blindly is an extraordinarily inventive, learned, poetic and entertaining dreambook, ranging over the world and the centuries and returning always to the prison island of Goli Otok It is surely a masterpiece.' John Banville

'Magris’s frame of reference is equally wide-ranging, running from crude Triestine dialect and Tasmanian shanties, to Dante and echoes of Primo Levi … It can feel, at times, like plunging directly into T.S.Eliot’s notes to The Waste Land, and yet the structure is supported by the “lively intelligence” of Magris’s speaker. Those familiar with the authors previous work will recognise his seamless blending of historical figures with fictional ones'. Thea Lenarduzzi, Times Literary Supplement

'I have read Claudio Magris’s Blindly twice, in French and in English; but the real translation is his revelation of what is in his own words "the indistinct drama of life." Never mind the literary ikon-busting Modernism, Post-Modernism. Not since Joyce’s Ulysses has there been great revelation of what the novel can be. Magris achieves this in fully realizing his own statement. The novel "is a voice that expresses not what we have consciously become but what we might have become and what we erupt at times, what we could be and hope and fear we can be.'" Nadine Gordimer