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The Bells in Their Silence: Travels Through Germany: Book by Michael Gorra

The Bells in Their Silence: Travels Through Germany

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ISBN: 9780691126173    Publisher: Princeton University Press Year of publishing: 2006     Format:  Paperback No of Pages: 232        
Nobody writes travelogues about Germany. The country spurs many anxious volumes of investigative reporting - books that worry away at the 'German problem,' World War II, the legacy of the Holocaust, the Wall,...Read more
Nobody writes travelogues about Germany. The country spurs many anxious volumes of investigative reporting - books that worry away at the 'German problem,' World War II, the legacy of the Holocaust, the Wall, reunification, and the connections between them. But not travel books, not the free-ranging and impressionistic works of literary nonfiction we associate with V. S. Naipaul and Bruce Chatwin. What is it about Germany and the travel book that puts them seemingly at odds? With one foot in the library and one on the street, Michael Gorra offers both an answer to this question and his own traveler's tale of Germany. Gorra uses Goethe's account of his Italian journey as a model for testing the traveler's response to Germany today, and he subjects the shopping arcades of contemporary German cities to the terms of Benjamin's Arcades project.He reads post-Wende Berlin through the novels of Theodor Fontane, examines the role of figurative language, and enlists W. G. Sebald as a guide to the place of fragments and digressions in travel writing.
Replete with the flaneur's chance discoveries - and rich in the delights of the enduring and the ephemeral, of architecture and flood - "The Bells in Their Silence" offers that rare traveler's tale of Germany while testing the very limits of the travel narrative as a literary form.
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About the author: Michael Gorra
Michael Gorra is Mary Augusta Jordan Professor of English at Smith College. He is the author of "After Empire" and "The English Novel at Mid-Century",... Read more
Michael Gorra is Mary Augusta Jordan Professor of English at Smith College. He is the author of "After Empire" and "The English Novel at Mid-Century", and the recipient, for his work as a reviewer, of the Nona Balakian Citation of the National Book Critics Circle. He reviews books for the "New York Times Book Review", the "Times Literary Supplement", the "Atlantic Monthly", and other publications.
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Review:
Gorra has made a notable effort to write a truthful book that, while colorful and impressionistic, also draws thoughtful conclusions about what he encounters... His accounts of his wandering are...Read more
Gorra has made a notable effort to write a truthful book that, while colorful and impressionistic, also draws thoughtful conclusions about what he encounters... His accounts of his wandering are peppered with literary and historical reflections as well as musings on the nature of travel literature... [T]he results can be stunning."--Brooke Allen, New York Times Book Review "Gorra's narrative is rich in texts he knows or has heuristically sought out: Goethe, Stendhal, Heine, Fontane, Thomas Mann, Patrick Leigh Fermore, Bruce Chatwin and Walter Benjamin... But the big names who establish Gorra's credentials as an intelligent traveler cannot really enlighten him on his quest... On the other hand his beloved texts frame the possibility of a true friendship with Germany, which is his subtle story."--Lesley Chamberlain, Times Literary Supplement "Gorra's introspective, impressionistic account of his travels through Germany is shaped--perhaps even haunted--by figures from the past: historical, literary, personal ... Yet for all his erudition, Gorra enters the deep waters of German cultural memory a humble, inquisitive novice, weaving personal and literary experiences... A captivating, unique work of synthesis."--Booklist (starred review) "Gorra interprets modern Germany with intellectual verve and sometimes even a little humor."--Georgia Jones Davis, Washington Post Book World "Entertainingly vivid... [B]ecause Gorra travels in Germany with such animated interest and pleasure, there arises a moral tension that drives his narrative. The pleasure of travel collides with the knowledge that one is in a place where so much misery has been inflicted and suffered."--Steve Dowden, The Boston Globe "With such heavy baggage from World War II, Germany is rarely given the travelogue treatment these days. Michael Gorra, who was struck by the country's beauty on a business trip, has rectified that in this perceptive tale of his adventures."--Chicago Tribune, Best Books of 2004 "Brilliant... Since the second world war, ... Germany has more or less disappeared from the literary route-map. Michael Gorra begins to fill this gap, while remembering that a country's history is longer than one episode, however calamitous."--Jeremy Treglown, Financial Times Magazine "[An] intellectually sophisticated ... book about being an outsider in modern Germany."--Jeremy Treglown, Granta "Gorra's knowledge on James is encyclopedic; he is never boring ... the result is a marvelous book that is a joy to read."--Cerise Press
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