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: 377,816

Product description

Danilo Kis was one of the most artful and eloquent writers of postwar Europe. Of all his books, "Hourglass, " the account of the final months in one man's life before he is sent to a concentration camp, is considered to be his masterpiece.

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Author information

Danilo Ki (February 22, 1935 October 15, 1989) was a Yugoslavian novelist, short story writer and poet who wrote in Serbo-Croatian. Ki 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

"Probably no other novelist has succeeded better than Ki in making a densely stylistic pattern out of such a nightmare, conveying with gruesome but also aesthetically beautiful effect the interrelation in such a life at such a time of the quotidian and the apocalyptic, the combination of the sense of trivia with the sense of doom." --John Bayley, "New York Review of Books""

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)