The Hourglass

The Hourglass

Paperback European Classics

By (author) Danilo Kis, Translated by Ralph Manheim

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  • Publisher: Northwestern University Press
  • Format: Paperback | 274 pages
  • Dimensions: 128mm x 196mm x 24mm | 340g
  • Publication date: 28 February 1998
  • Publication City/Country: Evanston
  • ISBN 10: 0810115131
  • ISBN 13: 9780810115132
  • Edition: New edition
  • Edition statement: New edition
  • Sales rank: 499,223

Product description

The Hourglass tells the story of the final months of one man's life in the period leading up to his dispatch to a concentration camp. It is considered to be Danilo Kis's masterpiece. The author died in 1989.

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Author information

Danilo Kis (February 22, 1935-October 15, 1989) was a Yugoslavian novelist, short story writer and poet who wrote in Serbo-Croatian. Kis was influenced by Bruno Schulz, Vladimir Nabokov, Jorge Luis Borges and Ivo Andric, among other authors. His most famous works include "A Tomb for Boris Davidovich" and "The Encyclopedia of the Dead." Ralph Manheim has translated several works by Gunthre Grass and Bertolt Brecht.

Review quote

"A finely sustained, complex fictional performance. It is full of pain and rage and gusto and joy of living, at once side-splitting and a heartbreaker." --John Simon, "Washington Post Book World"

Editorial reviews

Kis, who died last year, is most renowned in Europe for this novel, now rendered expertly into English by Manheim. It is the most authoritative of his writings, melding miscellany, nuggetted family portraiture, miraculously self-assured stylistics, and great sadness to achieve the kind of un-silly juxtapositions that give the feel of a life lived. In 1942, E.S. - a 52-year-old employee of the Hungarian State Railways - has had his pension inexplicably cut; and as he searches out the end of the thread that might explain this action, he pulls at the entire fabric of European Jewry (and, most specifically, Sephardic Jewry - of which Kis is the great if abstract chronicler) that is about to be forever rent. But this novel is in no way a descriptive Holocaust intimation. It is a fiction that proceeds by means of a number of indirections; there are two modes of interrogation, for instance - terrifyingly formal or more relaxedly self-accusatory - and there are histories of whole clans compressed into half a page; sections are often dreamlike: "their monochrome and polychrome quality. . .their faculty of transforming unknown places, people, and landscapes into known ones, and vice versa. . ." More suave and calm than most metafictionalists, Kis shapes the book as negative space. But it is the intimacy of complicated and teeming life remembered, highlighted, that gives it a shimmering quality: los seems here a repository of secrets. Elusive yet startling, full-throated fiction, gorgeously prosed. (Kirkus Reviews)