The Memory Chalet

( 4 )

Overview

A New York Times Book Review Notable Book of the Year

"It might be thought the height of poor taste to ascribe good fortune to a healthy man with a young family struck down at the age of sixty by an incurable degenerative disorder from which he must shortly die. But there is more than one sort of luck. To fall prey to a motor neuron disease is surely to have offended the Gods at some point, and there is nothing more to be said. But if you must ...

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The Memory Chalet

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Overview

A New York Times Book Review Notable Book of the Year

"It might be thought the height of poor taste to ascribe good fortune to a healthy man with a young family struck down at the age of sixty by an incurable degenerative disorder from which he must shortly die. But there is more than one sort of luck. To fall prey to a motor neuron disease is surely to have offended the Gods at some point, and there is nothing more to be said. But if you must suffer thus, better to have a well-stocked head." -Tony Judt

The Memory Chalet is a memoir unlike any you have ever read before. Each essay charts some experience or remembrance of the past through the sieve of Tony Judt's prodigious mind. His youthful love of a particular London bus route evolves into a reflection on public civility and interwar urban planning. Memories of the 1968 student riots of Paris meander through the divergent sex politics of Europe, before concluding that his generation "was a revolutionary generation, but missed the revolution." A series of road trips across America lead not just to an appreciation of American history, but to an eventual acquisition of citizenship. Foods and trains and long-lost smells all compete for Judt's attention; but for us, he has forged his reflections into an elegant arc of analysis. All as simply and beautifully arranged as a Swiss chalet-a reassuring refuge deep in the mountains of memory.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"[A] tremendously moving memorial to a first-class historian and essayist... humane, fearless, unsparingly honest."
The Financial Times

"Each of these beautifully crafted pieces presents a self-contained vignette. Together they form a picture of an age, seen through the prism of an extraordinary mind... Judt never pretended that the illness that befell him was a hidden blessing. 'Loss is loss, and nothing is gained by calling it a nicer name.' But if tragedy cannot be redeemed it can sometimes be defied, as Judt confirms in this exquisitely graceful memoir of a happy life."
The Daily Beast

"More than a memoir, [The Memory Chalet is] a bracing spiritual autobiography of a man whose lofty and old-fashioned goal, repeatedly realized in these pages, was to think for himself - and push each of us to do the same."
Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

"[B]oth an autobiography and a lovely little social history of the second half of the 20th century... all in a spare and nicely demotic prose."
Time

"Despite his stature as a 'public intellectual,' Judt's observations in this collection are more impressionistic than analytical. For the most part, he's not arguing points but simply re-savoring the things that once pleased him... This is a memorable collection from a memorable man."
BookPage

Geoff Dyer
With its vivid haze of detail, The Memory Chalet is the work of a historian forced to do without many of the tools on which he had placed the greatest reliance. It used to be said—maybe still is—that in the instant of death, your life flashes before your eyes. By prolonging Judt's life the miracles of medical technology effectively extended the process of his dying over several grueling years. So what we have is that instant of compressed recollection expanded and expounded upon. It is the furthest cry imaginable—not a cry at all—from The Death of Ivan Ilyich. You can almost sense the soul of the historian leaving his body, leaving the still-living body of work behind.
—The New York Times
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781594202896
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 11/11/2010
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 453,952
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Tony Judt was the Erich Maria Remarque Professor of European Studies at New York University, as well as the founder and director of the Remarque Institute, dedicated to creating an ongoing conversation between Europe and the United States. He was educated at King’s College, Cambridge, and the École Normale Supérieure, Paris, and also taught at Cambridge, Oxford, and Berkeley.
Professor Judt was a frequent contributor to The New York Review of BooksThe Times Literary Supplement, The New RepublicThe New York Times, and many journals across Europe and the United States. He is the author or editor of fifteen books, including Thinking the Twentieth CenturyThe Memory ChaletIll Fares the LandReappraisals: Reflections on the Forgotten Twentieth Century, and Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945, which was one of The New York Times Book Review’s Ten Best Books of 2005, the winner of the Council on Foreign Relations Arthur Ross Book Award, and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. He died in August 2010 at the age of sixty-two.
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Customer Reviews

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