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Conversation with Spinoza: A Cobweb Novel (Writings from an Unbound Europe)

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Conversation with Spinoza: A Cobweb Novel (Writings from an Unbound Europe) Cover

ISBN13: 9780810123762
ISBN10: 0810123762
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

The award-winning international sensation that poses the question: Was Sigmund Freud responsible for the death of his sister in a Nazi concentration camp?

The boy in her memories who strokes her with the apple, who whispers to her the fairy tale, who gives her the knife, is her brother Sigmund.

Vienna, 1938: With the Nazis closing in, Sigmund Freud is granted an exit visa and allowed to list the names of people to take with him. He lists his doctor and maids, his dog, and his wife's sister, but not any of his own sisters. The four Freud sisters are shuttled to the Terezín concentration camp, while their brother lives out his last days in London.

Based on a true story, this searing novel gives haunting voice to Freud's sister Adolfina—“the sweetest and best of my sisters”—a gifted, sensitive woman who was spurned by her mother and never married. A witness to her brother's genius and to the cultural and artistic splendor of Vienna in the early twentieth century, she aspired to a life few women of her time could attain.

From Adolfina's closeness with her brother in childhood, to her love for a fellow student, to her time with Gustav Klimt's sister in a Vienna psychiatric hospital, to her dream of one day living in Venice and having a family, Freud's Sister imagines with astonishing insight and deep feeling the life of a woman lost to the shadows of history.

Review:

"At the deathbed of 17th-century philosopher Baruch Spinoza, 'you,' a kind of theoretical interlocutor, notices a teardrop on the dead man's cheek — of which his spirit then denies the existence. Thus begins Macedonian novelist Smilevski's fourth novel (his first translated into English), which uses Spinoza's work as a way into his scantily documented life. In order '[t]o understand my contempt for tears,' Spinoza goes on to tell his life story: the early death of his mother, his rejection of all romance, the books he wrote and the ideas he cultivated — it's a life free from emotion or desire, lived according to his ideals. At the end, the interlocutor demands a retelling, one told by the Spinoza 'who knew what despair and sorrow really meant' — and gets it. Not only does Smilevski fulfill the difficult task of explaining Spinoza's dense ideas, dropping sly references to Darwin and Kundera into 17th-century Dutch life but he makes a hidden life wonderfully manifest. (May)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Synopsis:

Prizing ideas above all else, radical thinker Baruch Spinoza left little behind in the way of personal facts and furnishings. But what of the tug of necessity, the urgings of the flesh, to which this genius philosopher (and grinder of lenses) might have been no more immune than the next man-or the next character, as Baruch Spinoza becomes in this intriguing novel by the remarkable young Macedonian author Goce Smilevski.

Smilevski's novel brings the thinker Spinoza and his inner life into conversation with the outer, all-too-real facts of his life and his day--from his connection to the Jewish community of Amsterdam, his excommunication in 1656, and the emergence of his philosophical system to his troubling feelings for his fourteen-year-old Latin teacher Clara Maria van den Enden and later his disciple Johannes Casearius. From this conversation there emerges a compelling and complex portrait of the life of an idea--and of a man who tries to live that idea.

Synopsis:

The award-winning international sensation that poses the question: Was Sigmund Freud responsible for the death of his sister in a Nazi concentration camp?

The boy in her memories who strokes her with the apple, who whispers to her the fairy tale, who gives her the knife, is her brother Sigmund.

Vienna, 1938: With the Nazis closing in, Sigmund Freud is granted an exit visa and allowed to list the names of people to take with him. He lists his doctor and maids, his dog, and his wife's sister, but not any of his own sisters. The four Freud sisters are shuttled to the Terezín concentration camp, while their brother lives out his last days in London.

Based on a true story, this searing novel gives haunting voice to Freud's sister Adolfina—“the sweetest and best of my sisters”—a gifted, sensitive woman who was spurned by her mother and never married. A witness to her brother's genius and to the cultural and artistic splendor of Vienna in the early twentieth century, she aspired to a life few women of her time could attain.

From Adolfina's closeness with her brother in childhood, to her love for a fellow student, to her time with Gustav Klimt's sister in a Vienna psychiatric hospital, to her dream of one day living in Venice and having a family, Freud's Sister imagines with astonishing insight and deep feeling the life of a woman lost to the shadows of history.

About the Author

Goce Smilevski was born in 1975 in Skopje, Macedonia. He works at the Institute for Literature at Methodius University in Skopje, where he lives.

Christina E. Kramer is a professor of Slavic and Balkan languages and linguistics at the University of Toronto. She lives in Ontario, Canada.

Table of Contents

A Note to the Reader

Thread One

Thread Two

Thread Three

Thread Four

Thread Five

Thread Six

The Center of the Cobweb

Instead of an Epilogue: Why Spinoza?

What Our Readers Are Saying

Add a comment for a chance to win!
Average customer rating based on 2 comments:

stevenlight, August 18, 2006 (view all comments by stevenlight)
"Conversation with Spinoza" is an imaginary conversation using Spinoza's work as a way into his scantily documented life. The great rational philosopher meets his interlocutor whom, it seems, he essentially missed his whole life.
Prizing ideas above all else, Spinoza left little behind in the way of personal facts and furnishings.
Through the conversation with Spinoza, there are two constant and parallel streams ? two voices, two characters of the same person; Spinoza narrates his life twice through the eyes of his two portraits with a 20-year distance, separate as two worlds in one soul.
The space between the two parallel stories, the same as the one between two parallel lines, stays unmarked, with the absence of touch or a real encounter.
Spinoza tells his life story: the early death of his mother, his rejection of all romance, the books he wrote and the ideas he cultivated ? it's a life free from emotion or desire, lived according to his ideals.
Coming to life at the end of the novel, being dead at the beginning, Spinoza is being born in as many ways as there are different worlds of the readers who, talking to him, knitted the threads of the spider-web, which is included in the game of philosophy and the game in philosophy ? a game in which the stakes are nothing less than life itself.
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(14 of 26 readers found this comment helpful)
readerbook, May 7, 2006 (view all comments by readerbook)
Prizing ideas above all else, radical thinker Baruch Spinoza left little behind in the way of personal facts and furnishings. But what of the tug of necessity, the urgings of the flesh, to which this genius philosopher (and grinder of lenses) might have been no more immune than the next man-or the next character, as Baruch Spinoza becomes in this intriguing novel by the remarkable young Macedonian author Goce Smilevski.

Smilevski's novel brings the thinker Spinoza, all inner life, into conversation with the outer, all-too-real facts of his life and his day--from his connection to the Jewish community of Amsterdam, his excommunication in 1656, and the emergence of his philosophical system to his troubling feelings for his fourteen-year-old Latin teacher Clara Maria van den Enden and later his disciple Johannes Casearius. From this conversation there emerges a compelling and complex portrait of the life of an idea--and of a man who tries to live that idea.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(24 of 34 readers found this comment helpful)
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780810123762
Subtitle:
A Cobweb Novel
Publisher:
Northwestern University Press
Translator:
Korzenski, Filip
Author:
Smilevski, Goce
Author:
Korzenski, Filip
Author:
Kramer, Christina E.
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Intellectual life
Subject:
Philosophers
Subject:
Spinoza, Benedictus de
Subject:
Philosophers - Netherlands
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Subject:
Historical
Edition Description:
1
Series:
Writings from an Unbound Europe
Publication Date:
20060512
Binding:
Paperback
Grade Level:
from 12
Language:
English
Pages:
152
Dimensions:
8.5 x 5.5 in
Age Level:
from 18

Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

Conversation with Spinoza: A Cobweb Novel (Writings from an Unbound Europe)
0 stars - 0 reviews
$ In Stock
Product details 152 pages Northwestern University Press - English 9780810123762 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "At the deathbed of 17th-century philosopher Baruch Spinoza, 'you,' a kind of theoretical interlocutor, notices a teardrop on the dead man's cheek — of which his spirit then denies the existence. Thus begins Macedonian novelist Smilevski's fourth novel (his first translated into English), which uses Spinoza's work as a way into his scantily documented life. In order '[t]o understand my contempt for tears,' Spinoza goes on to tell his life story: the early death of his mother, his rejection of all romance, the books he wrote and the ideas he cultivated — it's a life free from emotion or desire, lived according to his ideals. At the end, the interlocutor demands a retelling, one told by the Spinoza 'who knew what despair and sorrow really meant' — and gets it. Not only does Smilevski fulfill the difficult task of explaining Spinoza's dense ideas, dropping sly references to Darwin and Kundera into 17th-century Dutch life but he makes a hidden life wonderfully manifest. (May)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Synopsis" by ,
Prizing ideas above all else, radical thinker Baruch Spinoza left little behind in the way of personal facts and furnishings. But what of the tug of necessity, the urgings of the flesh, to which this genius philosopher (and grinder of lenses) might have been no more immune than the next man-or the next character, as Baruch Spinoza becomes in this intriguing novel by the remarkable young Macedonian author Goce Smilevski.

Smilevski's novel brings the thinker Spinoza and his inner life into conversation with the outer, all-too-real facts of his life and his day--from his connection to the Jewish community of Amsterdam, his excommunication in 1656, and the emergence of his philosophical system to his troubling feelings for his fourteen-year-old Latin teacher Clara Maria van den Enden and later his disciple Johannes Casearius. From this conversation there emerges a compelling and complex portrait of the life of an idea--and of a man who tries to live that idea.

"Synopsis" by ,
The award-winning international sensation that poses the question: Was Sigmund Freud responsible for the death of his sister in a Nazi concentration camp?

The boy in her memories who strokes her with the apple, who whispers to her the fairy tale, who gives her the knife, is her brother Sigmund.

Vienna, 1938: With the Nazis closing in, Sigmund Freud is granted an exit visa and allowed to list the names of people to take with him. He lists his doctor and maids, his dog, and his wife's sister, but not any of his own sisters. The four Freud sisters are shuttled to the Terezín concentration camp, while their brother lives out his last days in London.

Based on a true story, this searing novel gives haunting voice to Freud's sister Adolfina—“the sweetest and best of my sisters”—a gifted, sensitive woman who was spurned by her mother and never married. A witness to her brother's genius and to the cultural and artistic splendor of Vienna in the early twentieth century, she aspired to a life few women of her time could attain.

From Adolfina's closeness with her brother in childhood, to her love for a fellow student, to her time with Gustav Klimt's sister in a Vienna psychiatric hospital, to her dream of one day living in Venice and having a family, Freud's Sister imagines with astonishing insight and deep feeling the life of a woman lost to the shadows of history.

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