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Posted August 5, 2013
This book at first seems to be about serendipity (Gorra stumbled
This book at first seems to be about serendipity (Gorra stumbled on his subject and its puzzles by accident) , and tales of serendipity always intrigue. But as Gorra travels around the Germany of today and slowly peels back layers of the onion, the book becomes not only profoundly informative but moving and personal. I can't say enough how constantly surprised I was by what Gorra shares and reveals (and learns) but let me just stop by saying that I can't recommend this book more highly for readers of history and essays -- the significance of cover photo (a little mysterious) is revealed in the very last chapter, and it is a devastating revelation. A work of enduring genius. Goethe would be proud of the model he left.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 29, 2012
An eloquent teacher worth reading...
The subtitle of "The Bells in Their Silence: Travels through Germany", is deceptive if you're planning a quickie trip and want the latest Deutschland guide. Better hit the travel section of your local bookstore for a conventional Baedeker. But if you're an English teacher at an elite New England college, or so aspire, expect the associative responses to take a literary bend. This is a good book. No, this is an excellent one. It's vivid in many a memorable passage; for instance, the day when a ferocious rain in Hamburg pelts you sideways and you take shelter in the city's art museum. And what strikes you? Why, the "Cranach triple-portrait in which you can see the brutish familial resemblance in a clutch of Saxon dukes, all bullet eyes and pinched noses."Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
"'Buddenbrooks' was the first German novel I ever read," says Michael Gorra, "and I tried to write about it soon after we arrived in Hamburg, to ping-pong between the book's family and mine." Here the author plays the game with striking success, capturing the reader's interest always. Altogether a highly recommended read.