In this fascinating journey Claudio Magris, whose knowledge is encyclopaedic and whose curiosity limitless, guides his reader from the river's source in the Bavarian hills through Austro-Hungary and the Balkans to the Black Sea.
Along the way he raises the ghosts that inhabit the houses and monuments - from Ovid and Marcus Aurelius to Kafka and Canetti - and in so doing sets his finger on the pulse of Central Europe, the vital crucible of a culture that draws on influences of East and West, of Christendom and Islam.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 416 pages, map
- Publisher: Vintage Publishing
- Publication Date: 18/01/2001
- Category: European history
- ISBN: 9781860468230
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Review by mattresslessness
Slightly tempting to compare Magris' cultural dredging of the Danube with something equally ambitious like Rebecca West's <i>Black Lamb Grey Falcon</i>, but whereas West's book of half-credulous received opinions comes off as an unreliable sort of Bloomsbury Herodotus, Magris is more reserved and a little detached. On the other hand, you certainly won't get any kind of coherent travel narrative here; the book merely methodically progresses in the subjects it addresses from one end of Europe to another, with an occassional anecdote thrown in where it suits. <br/><br/>It'd be easier to fault Magris for his sort of intellectual gentleman's-club style, which seems to revel in implying that every moment is made up of a tissue of insight and erudition, if damn near the whole book weren't made up of a tissue of insight and erudition. The odd occasion where he has nothing in particular to say can render the lofty style a little ridiculous, but it's never enough to spoil an otherwise brilliant trip through the nooks and crannies of eastern European culture.