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Silk by Alessandro Baricco

Silk (original 1996; edition 1997)

by Alessandro Baricco, Guido Waldman (Translator)

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2,7281142,162 (3.78)193
Authors:Alessandro Baricco
Other authors:Guido Waldman (Translator)
Info:The Harvill Press (1997), Editie: New edition, Hardcover, 96 pagina's
Collections:Your library

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Silk by Alessandro Baricco (1996)


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» See also 193 mentions

English (75)  Spanish (17)  Italian (6)  French (5)  Catalan (4)  Dutch (4)  Swedish (2)  Norwegian (1)  All languages (114)
Showing 1-5 of 75 (next | show all)
Herve Joncour is a mid 19th century French silkworm merchant, who is asked to travel to Japan to bring back silkworm eggs so that his town can still flourish in producing silk products after many nearer sources of the eggs become infected. There he meets a concubine of the local feudal chief and becomes infatuated with her, and the feeling is very much mutual, even though she can't speak French and is obviously tied to the powerful chief. Over the coming years, his life revolves around these three month trips to Japan, because of this woman, even when Japan slips into civil war and he puts his life in danger for doing so.

In the meantime he has a loving wife back at home, but in Franch he becomes distant and depressed, particularly when it seems there is no chance of ever meeting this woman again. But was she really the love of his life, or is there someone else closer to home he should be focusing on.

This very slight novel is nevertheless packed with plot and hidden meaning. It is told in a very sparse style, almost like a fable, with whole passages almost hypnotically, lyrically repeated. Thoughts are almost always hidden, and instead we only have actions to work on, and infer the hidden thoughts for ourselves.

There is an air of perfection to this work, with almost every word obviously carefully chosen, just like a great poem, and you end up feeling that every single word has significance. It appears at first sight to be a standard tragic romance, but the twists at the end demolish this, and then the pragmatic attitude of the protagonist at the very end lends a naturalistic air to it. But at the same time there are surrealistic elements, with the local head of business entirely abandoning all his possessions because of the result of a rather bizarre billiards game.

This is a novel to savour, to read over and over, to be moved by, and ultimately to dwell over for many days after you've put it down. ( )
  RachDan | Apr 20, 2015 |
An astonishing and haunting book, with the atmosphere and structure of a folk tale. I'm definitely going to read this again. It's one of those books that hangs around in your mind for while, and since it is so short, it's easy to devour in a single sitting. Beautiful. ( )
  bsag | Sep 7, 2014 |
Simple but effective prose.Recommended. ( )
  MsStephie | Jul 12, 2014 |
A wonderful quick read of the book, set in the world that was most fully imagined by Flaubert, this novella is about a silkworm smuggler who travels to a newly opened Japan to get non-diseased silkworms to bring back to French silk merchants. In Japan the married smuggler finds a Western-looking woman and develops a passionate but silent and largely unexplained relationship. Coming back to France he is changed and falls into a new pattern with his wife. The writing is beautiful and the story is moving--highly recommended. ( )
  nosajeel | Jun 21, 2014 |
I found myself totally captivated by this odd yet hauntingly beautiful story of love. This short little book fills its pages with so much mystery, suspense and love that I found myself wanting to read it again and again, gaining more from it with each reading, yet never quite knowing it completely, never quite finding answers to my many questions, but able to accept that. I loved the author's use of repetition as emphasis as well as his sparse style of writing with prose that smoothly moves the story forward with a dream-like quality that lingers in your mind long after you finish it. I'm very eager to now search out other books by this author. Highly recommend. ( )
  mlbelize | Jan 27, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 75 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (38 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Alessandro Bariccoprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Canela, MercèTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Goldstein, AnnTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Melander, VivecaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Smits, ManonTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Although his father had pictured for him a brilliant future in the army, Hervé Joncour ended up earning his crust in an unusual career which, by a singular piece of irony, was not unconnected with a charming side that bestowed on it a vaguely feminine intonation.
Information from the Catalan Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Els productors de seda de Lavilledieu eren, qui més qui menys, gentilhomes, i mai no haurien pensat d'infringir cap de les lleis del seu país. La hipòtesi de fer-ho a l'altra part de món, però, els resultà raonablement sensata. (10)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307277976, Paperback)

The year is 1861. Hervé Joncour is a French merchant of silkworms, who combs the known world for their gemlike eggs. Then circumstances compel him to travel farther, beyond the edge of the known, to a country legendary for the quality of its silk and its hostility to foreigners: Japan.

There Joncour meets a woman. They do not touch; they do not even speak. And he cannot read the note she sends him until he has returned to his own country. But in the moment he does, Joncour is possessed.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:58 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

In the late 1860s, when Japan is still closed to foreigners, Herve Joncour, a young French merchant, makes a series of clandestine journeys across Siberia to Japan, at first to purchase silkworm eggs, and later to pursue an affair with a Japanese nobleman's concubine.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 7 descriptions

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