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Le Pianiste by W. Szpilman
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Le Pianiste (original 1999; edition 2003)

by W. Szpilman

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1,353175,693 (4.3)36
Member:david6244
Title:Le Pianiste
Authors:W. Szpilman
Info:Pocket Jeunesse (2003), Poche, 252 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:None

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The Pianist: The Extraordinary True Story of One Man's Survival in Warsaw, 1939-1945 by Władysław Szpilman (Author) (1999)

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English (15)  Spanish (2)  All languages (17)
Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
This is a far more special book than even its admirers give it credit for. Accounts by Jews in wartime are of course "survivors' accounts," but this book is a good deal more. Szpilman was a very famous and talented man and, at crucial moments in his life, certain people stepped forward at great personal risk to save him and his talent for the world. The reader easily misses this, not because Szpilman tries to hide what others did for him, but because he is very modest about his talent and the high esteem in which he was held by prewar Polish audiences. This is therefore not a standard "survivors' account" but also an account of the lengths some people will go to help a remarkable person.

Polanski directed a beautiful film, but he and his screenwriter utterly missed this unique story: a person who survived because the people around him couldn't bear to allow such an extraordinary talent to be lost. The German Hosenfeld is only the last of many people to be bowled over by Szpilman's playing. To the very end Polanski sticks to the "survivor's account," and where the book shows Hosenfeld to be helpful and contrite, and Szpilman to be grateful, Polanski opts for a kind of "degraded man can still play the piano" ending. A lost opportunity.
2 vote messpots | Jul 15, 2010 |
A masterpiece... one of the best books I've ever read. ( )
1 vote marianapdias | Jun 1, 2009 |
This was an amazing book. I found it to be even better than the movie, which was pretty good in itself. Aren't all books better than the movie? The book tended to go farther than the movie on certain concepts, which I greatly appreciated. In addition, my edition came with excerpts from the Nazi officer who helped him. His journal was very insightful. The commentary at the end of the book offered the most information. What a great story of survival in such a dark time. ( )
1 vote elleayess | May 9, 2009 |
This book was heart breaking and remarkable. ( )
  ckoller | Feb 18, 2009 |
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» Add other authors (10 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Szpilman, WładysławAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bell, AntheaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Biermann, WolfAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cohen, BernardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dautzenberg, TheoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hosenfeld, WilmAuthorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Szpilman, AndrzejForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wolff, KarinTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Book description
On September 23, 1939, the great Polish classical pianist Wladyslaw Szpilman played a Chopin nocturne live on the radio, but the shells blasting at a nearby window were so loud he could not hear his piano. Germany was invading Warsaw, and German occupation of this city meant that unanswerable murder and unspeakable cruelty would soon be daily, inescapable realities. But sometimes a person can escape the inescapable: The Pianist offers the amazing, often shocking true story of Szpilman's survival amid the rampant inhumanity of the Holocaust.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0312311354, Paperback)

Written immediately after the end of World War II, this morally complex Holocaust memoir is notable for its exact depiction of the grim details of life in Warsaw under the Nazi occupation. "Things you hardly noticed before took on enormous significance: a comfortable, solid armchair, the soothing look of a white-tiled stove," writes Wladyslaw Szpilman, a pianist for Polish radio when the Germans invaded. His mother's insistence on laying the table with clean linen for their midday meal, even as conditions for Jews worsened daily, makes palpable the Holocaust's abstract horror. Arbitrarily removed from the transport that took his family to certain death, Szpilman does not deny the "animal fear" that led him to seize this chance for escape, nor does he cheapen his emotions by belaboring them. Yet his cool prose contains plenty of biting rage, mostly buried in scathing asides (a Jewish doctor spared consignment to "the most wonderful of all gas chambers," for example). Szpilman found compassion in unlikely people, including a German officer who brought food and warm clothing to his hiding place during the war's last days. Extracts from the officer's wartime diary (added to this new edition), with their expressions of outrage at his fellow soldiers' behavior, remind us to be wary of general condemnation of any group. --Wendy Smith

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:47:48 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

A Jewish pianist's real-life account of survival in World War II Warsaw. Separated in a mêlée, he fights to rejoin his family as they board the death train, but police block him. "Papa!" he cries. The father waves, "as if I were setting out into life and he was already greeting me from beyond the grave."… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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