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Silk by Alessandro Baricco

Silk (original 1996; edition 1997)

by Alessandro Baricco, Guido Waldman (Translator)

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2,8781242,007 (3.78)203
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)

Recently added byBeita, liao, rmagini, mtagurcia, private library, GhP, Alain-Lecomte, marcusfit, tstan

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» See also 203 mentions

English (82)  Spanish (17)  French (7)  Italian (6)  Dutch (5)  Catalan (4)  Swedish (2)  Norwegian (1)  All languages (124)
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Silk - Alessandro Baricco
4 stars

This is a little gem of a book. It’s a fable for adults. I learned a little about 19th century silk production in France, and a bit about the politics of Japan’s isolation from the Western World. But, I felt like a child listening to the predictable, repetitive structures of a traditional tale. And, like a child, when I got to the end, I wanted to go back to the beginning and read it again. So, I did, several times.

( )
  msjudy | May 30, 2016 |

Hervé Joncour travels the world buying silkworm eggs and eventually travels as far as Japan. He buys eggs from Hara Kei, a French-speaking nobleman. Joncour falls in love with his mistress. During his second visit to Japan, Joncour learns about the aviary of exotic birds that Hara Kei has built; he leaves a glove for Hara Kei's mistress to find in a pile of clothes. Hara Kei's mistress gives him a love note written in Japanese that says, "Come back, or I shall die."

During Joncour's third visit to Japan, Hara Kei's mistress releases the birds from the aviary. Joncour and Hara Kei's mistress have sex by proxy. Hara Kei conducts the silkworm egg transaction via an associate and does not say goodbye when Joncour leaves. When it is time for Joncour to make a fourth trip to Japan, war has broken out. He finds Hara Kei's village burned to the ground. A young boy appears and gives him the glove that he had dropped on the pile of Hara Kei's mistress's clothes. He follows the boy to the place where the refugees from Hara Kei's village are camping.

Hara Kei denies Joncour welcome but Joncour refuses to leave. The next morning, Joncour sees the body of the boy hanging from a tree; Hara Kei has executed him for carrying the glove to Joncour and bringing him back to the village. Joncour hastily procures a supply of eggs but leaves far too late in the season to transport them to France. The silk mills sit idle that year.

One day, he receives a letter written in Japanese. He takes it to Madame Blanche. It is an erotic love letter from a woman to her beloved master. Madame Blanche gives him some of her trademark blue flowers. Joncour retires from the silkworm egg business; he and Hélène have three daughters. Baldabiou leaves Lavilledieu suddenly and is not heard from again. Hélène dies of a fever several years later. On a visit to her grave, Joncour sees Madame Blanche's blue flowers there. He visits her and learns that his wife is the author of the letter. ( )
  bostonwendym | Mar 3, 2016 |
C'était bien écrit, engageant, et intéressant. Je m'attendais à quelque chose de plus qui semble manquer au récit. Il y avait une certaine froideur qui a fait que je n'ai ni ressenti ni été convaincue que les deux s'aimaient vraiment...
je dirais un rating de 3.5/5. ( )
  pathogenik | Feb 18, 2016 |
This is a jewel of a book. Poetic and sensual. A short novella. Very spare - hardly any descriptive details, but SOooo much is said! A love so intense it unhinges the mind is how the book was described and that is certainly true. So much is made of Herve’s love for the mysterious woman in Japan, but so little is said about Helene’s love for Herve --- just as passionate, just as intense, just as all-consuming. And her sacrifice is greater, I think.

Also saw the movie – gloriously filmed but the actor is miscast as Herve. ( )
  BookConcierge | Feb 12, 2016 |
132 pg

novella translated from Italian by Ann Goldstein.

delicate... translated with simplicity...subtle...thought provoking...obsessive...clandestine...deeply emotional
"woven like silk".... ( )
  pennsylady | Jan 31, 2016 |
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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)

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