Lost in Time

Lost in Time

5.0 2
by Hans Magnus Enzensberger

In this innovative time-travel tale, Enzensberger treats history with the same wit, knowledge, adn charm that he broght to mathematics in The Number Devil.

When fourteen-year-old Robert blinks, he is pulled into the place and time of whatever he happens to be looking at. A television documentary leaves him shivering in Siberia in 1956, a movie drops him


In this innovative time-travel tale, Enzensberger treats history with the same wit, knowledge, adn charm that he broght to mathematics in The Number Devil.

When fourteen-year-old Robert blinks, he is pulled into the place and time of whatever he happens to be looking at. A television documentary leaves him shivering in Siberia in 1956, a movie drops him into the opal mines of post-war Australia, a photo on a mantle zips him off to impoverished Weimar Germany. And that's only the beginning. Hans Magnus Enzensberger takes us through seven countries and historical periods, recreating in each place the mood and temper of the time. But how can Robert return to his own home and kitchen? Landing in seventeenth-century Holland as apprentice to a great painter, Robert comes upon a solution — but only if he can recall the future, perfectly.

Readers will be swept along by Enzensberger's fast-paced plot, keen eye for detail, fine sense of romance and intrigue, and clever techniques for propelling Robert along his journey. An enchanting introduction to world history, Lost in Time is an engaging novel for readers of all ages.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A 13-year-old travels deeper and deeper into the past in this clever if not entirely satisfying tale by the author of The Number Devil. Robert seems ordinary enough, except for his photographic memory and "something funny about his eyes." Watching television one evening, he finds himself inexplicably transported to the scene on the screen: Siberia in the 1950s. He is to have six other time adventures, all achieved by "entering" pictures of different sorts. Among his destinations: his German hometown in 1930, Norway in 1860 and the Alsace during the Thirty Years War. Robert manages to get by on his own cunning and with the simplest of tools; after all, "Robert had once been camping somewhere in the mountains, with no TV and no bathroom, so he knew that you could get by somehow if you must." Little connects one journey to the next, and although rich in historical details, the episodes themselves may sometimes seem random--at least they may to American readers, who will have less familiarity with European history than Enzensberger's original German audience. At one point Robert muses that "human beings were capable of anything, the worst of evils and the greatest of wonders," but this theme is never followed through and no overarching motif rises to give purpose to the episodes. However, Enzensberger's humorously deadpan narrative voice, his taste for witty ironies and Robert's sheer moxie offer a surfeit of pleasures in and of themselves. Ages 12-up. (Oct.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
Imagine meeting your grandmother—when she was still a child. That is exactly what thirteen-year-old Robert does when he goes back in time. Perhaps he's spent too many hours staring at a computer screen, but whenever his eyes get watery, he finds himself transported to a new time and place—Siberia in 1956, Australia in 1946¾eventually all the way back to Amsterdam in 1621. Though the characters seem flat, partly due to the episodic nature of the adventure, there are rich details about the locations. In addition to the sights, sounds and smells of the times, readers share Robert's experiences of being injured in a Nazi rally, struggling with 18th century European court etiquette, swapping scientific theories with an ancient astronomer, and even being bled with leeches. Robert's character, however, lacks the depth that might clarify some of his actions, such as his slowness in understanding other people's fascination with his modern possessions, his surprising readiness to become a bloodthirsty highwayman, or his lasting attachment to characters he knew so briefly. Readers who like time-travel will enjoy the journey though, and will admire Robert's ingenious plan for returning to his 20th century German home. 2000 (orig. 1998), Henry Holt, $18.00. Ages 8 to 12. Reviewer: Betty Hicks
In this time-travel fantasy, thirteen-year-old Robert journeys back through three hundred years of European history, beginning in Siberia in 1956 and ending in Amsterdam in 1621. Robert moves from one period to another by focusing on a picture that depicts an earlier time and placing himself as part of each picture. Robert has seven journeys that include meeting his grandmother as a young bride, searching for opals in Australia, learning to fence at the royal court, and joining up with a band of marauders during the Thirty-Years War. At the end of each journey, Robert manages to escape to a new period just at the point at which he finds himself in danger. As Robert moves further back in time, he despairs of ever getting back to the present until as a painter's apprentice, he discovers a way to return home. This fantasy suffers from several weaknesses. The book is translated from the original German, with foreign phrases and references included. The author introduces many characters who befriend Robert, but none are presented with much depth. Robert himself is neither particularly ingenious nor brave. Although each journey is unique, few are particularly exciting, and there is sometimes little action. Readers who enjoyed Enzensberger's first book, The Number Devil (Metropolitan/Henry Holt, 1998/VOYA April 1999), might lose interest before the conclusion. The book might appeal to readers who like time-travel adventures or to those with a keen interest in European history. VOYA CODES: 3Q 2P M J (Readable without serious defects; For the YA with a special interest in the subject; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2000 (orig. 1998), HenryHolt, 344p. Ages 12 to 15. Reviewer: Chris Carlson VOYA, February 2001 (Vol. 23, No.6)
School Library Journal
Gr 6-9-Robert, the 13-year-old protagonist in this time-travel odyssey, has always known there was something unusual about his eyes. He sees flickering lights and odd pictures, but these sights are his secret. Then one afternoon, the German teen is suddenly transported through time to Siberia and then takes a train to Moscow. The year there is 1956 and Cold War paranoia is in full bloom. After numerous difficulties, he escapes to a theater. Frightened and homesick, he rubs his eyes and abruptly finds himself in the middle of the movie, which is now very real. Thus the pattern for the rest of the book is set. By looking at various pictures, Robert is telescoped back in time through seven different escapades, each one taking him further and further from the present. The book is basically a magical history tour, where Robert comes face to face with the flesh-and-blood people who lived during the various times he visits. In one episode, he meets his great grandmother in pre-World War II Germany. In another, he becomes involved with a band of highway robbers during the Thirty Years' War in Europe. In all of his journeys, Robert is taken in and accepted without question by at least one person. This and some of the other plot devices are weak, but each adventure introduces readers to fascinating historical details. Robert's return to the present is cleverly executed. While this book will not have wide appeal, it will attract students who are curious about the past in a way that goes beyond the superficial treatment found in textbooks.-Bruce Anne Shook, Mendenhall Middle School, Greensboro, NC Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
In Hans Magnus Enzensberger"s Lost in Time, a boy daydreams and sees strange scenes when he rubs his eyes; but one day finds the visions all too real when he lands in the past and finds himself caught in increasingly complex political worlds. Robert covers close to four hundred years of history as he jumps through time in search of the elusive way home. Lost in Time is an original, well crafted, and totally involving story of time travel with a different tone and twist.
Marjorie Hamlin
This German author has done it again. From his clever teaching of math in The Number Devil to a backward sweep of European history in this second novel, Enzenburger introduces young readers to unstructured learning through fiction...A worthy exposure to painless learning.
Christian Science Monitor
Kirkus Reviews
Enzensberger (Number Devil, 1998) sends a German teenager on a long, strange trip into the past that promises more than it delivers. Watching TV one afternoon, Robert rubs his eyes and suddenly finds himself shivering in 1956 Siberia. This is only the first of seven journeys that take him from an Australian movie set in 1946 to a clash between communists and Nazis in 1930 Germany. There are encounters with a suicidal Swedenborgian mystic in 1860, a flirtatious German princess in 1702, on to a battle in the Thirty Years War, and finally the studio of an early 17th-century Amsterdam painter. Along the way he occasionally meets a thinly disguised historical figure, picks up the rudiments of fencing, painting, and various languages, escapes several dangerous situations, and gets an insider's view of life in past ages. But he also finds shelter and friendship with suspicious ease; despite pervasive hints of an overall purpose to his journey, he arrives back in his own time neither older (though two subjective years have passed) nor much wiser than when he set out. Thankfully, he carries home physical evidence to show that it wasn't all a dream, but it's not a particularly meaningful odyssey either, and readers will be left with more questions than answers. (Fiction. 11-13)

Product Details

Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Publication date:
Edition description:
First Edition
Product dimensions:
6.38(w) x 8.56(h) x 1.18(d)
860L (what's this?)
Age Range:
11 - 14 Years

Meet the Author

Hans Magnus Enzensberger is the author of many highly lauded books, including The Consciousness Industry and The Number Devil, an international best seller much loved by readers of all ages. He lives in Munich.

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Lost in Time 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one of the most suspensful yet adventurous book of all time. One of my favotite books Lost in Time was originally called Where Are You Robert.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book, originally titled, ' Where were you, Robert?' is excellent. It is not only superbly written and translated but it gives samples of different countries and different time periods. Each adventure Robert embarks on thrills and involves the reader. By the end of the book one feels attached to Robert, feeling what he is feeling and fearing that Robert will never get back to the year 2000 in his hometown in Germany. The fact that one feels as if one really knows Robert and actually goes through seven amazing journies shows that this book was well written and well thoguht out. The ending I believe is the most creative of all. I suggest this book to all and especially to those interested in history and art.