Night Train to Lisbon: A Novel

Night Train to Lisbon: A Novel

3.6 23
by Pascal Mercier
     
 

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Raimund Gregorius teaches classical languages at a Swiss lycée, and lives a life governed by routine. One day, a chance encounter with a Portuguese woman inspires him to question his life—and leads him to an extraordinary book that will open the possibility of changing it. Inspired by the words of Amadeu de Prado, a doctor whose intelligence and magnetism…  See more details below

Overview

Raimund Gregorius teaches classical languages at a Swiss lycée, and lives a life governed by routine. One day, a chance encounter with a Portuguese woman inspires him to question his life—and leads him to an extraordinary book that will open the possibility of changing it. Inspired by the words of Amadeu de Prado, a doctor whose intelligence and magnetism left a mark on everyone who met him and whose principles led him into a confrontation with Salazar’s dictatorship, Gergorius boards a train to Lisbon. As Gregorius becomes fascinated with unlocking the mystery of who Prado was, an extraordinary tale unfolds.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

Raimund Gregorius, a Swiss professor of classical languages, is crossing a rainy bridge in Bern when a mysterious woman writes a phone number on his forehead and utters a single word in Portuguese. Later that day, he wanders into a bookstore and finds himself drawn to a Portuguese book titled A Goldsmith of Words, self-published in Lisbon 30 years earlier. These unexplained and seemingly unrelated events conspire to tear myopic bookworm Gregorius out of his solitary and unvarying existence and send him to Lisbon in search of both the woman and Amadeu de Prado, the book's (fictional) author. This third novel by the pseudonymous Mercier caused a sensation in Europe and spent 140 weeks on the German best-sellers lists, feats unlikely to be duplicated in the United States because of the book's slow pacing. Patient readers will be rewarded, however, by the involving, unpredictable, and well-constructed plot and Mercier's virtuosic orchestration of a large and memorable cast of characters. As the stories of Gregorius and de Prado draw together, this becomes a moving meditation on the defining moments in our lives, the "silent explosions that change everything." Recommended for all fiction collections.
—Forest Turner

Kirkus Reviews
An elegant meditative book teaches a painfully ironic life lesson in German-Swiss author Mercier's searching 2004 novel, a critically acclaimed international bestseller being published in the United States for the first time. He who learns the lesson is 50ish Raimund Gregorius, a philologist who teaches Latin, Greek and Hebrew at a Swiss high school-until an unknown woman excites the scholar's interest in an obscure book of philosophical observations penned by an equally unknown Portuguese author. Impulsively abandoning his academic responsibilities, Gregorius acquires the rare volume, ponders its contents and travels to Lisbon to research the life of its "vanished" author. He discovers that Amadeu de Prado, a would-be priest who became a renowned physician, had led an even more complex life as a member of the resistance movement opposing Portugal's notorious dictator Antonio Salazar. The story emerges from Gregorius's meetings: with Prado's aged sister Adriana, the stoical though not uncritical preserver of his memory; a contemplative priest with whom the nonbelieving doctor had often debated theology; the brilliant and beautiful colleague Estefania, who may have been Prado's true soul mate; and the Resistance comrade V'tor Coutinho, who discloses the "evil" act (saving the life of a vicious secret police official) that motivated Prado to forsake the life of the mind for that of a man of violent action. The nearer Gregorius comes to the truth of Prado's passionate commitment, the more insistent becomes the question he asks himself: "Had he perhaps missed a possible life, one he could easily have lived with his abilities and knowledge?" It's the age-old intellectual's dilemma, consideredin a compelling blend of suspenseful narrative and discursive commentary (quoted from Prado's text). An intriguing fiction only occasionally diluted by redundancy and by Mercier's overuse of the metaphor of a train journey. Agent: Friederike Barakat/Carl Hanser Verlag

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781555849238
Publisher:
Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date:
10/07/2008
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
448
Sales rank:
103,879
File size:
2 MB

Meet the Author

A professor of philosophy, Pascal Mercier was born in 1944 in Bern, Switzerland, and currently lives in Berlin. Night Train to Lisbon is his third novel.

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