HomeGroupsTalkZeitgeist
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Dreams of My Russian Summers: A Novel by…
Loading...

Dreams of My Russian Summers: A Novel (original 1995; edition 2008)

by Andreï Makine

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,059207,926 (3.85)39
Member:dkohler52
Title:Dreams of My Russian Summers: A Novel
Authors:Andreï Makine
Info:Arcade Publishing (2008), Paperback, 241 pages
Collections:Your library, Wishlist, To read
Rating:*****
Tags:TBR

Work details

Le Testament Français by Andreï Makine (1995)

None.

Loading...

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 39 mentions

English (13)  Swedish (1)  French (1)  Spanish (1)  Finnish (1)  Italian (1)  Hebrew (1)  Lithuanian (1)  All languages (20)
Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
http://www.bookcrossing.com/journal/7420277/

I'm glad I took the advice of a Goodreads reviewer and stuck with it because it did take off after Chapter 5 and became rather compulsively readable. I was struck by how it compared with A Very Long Engagament, they made interesting side by side reads.
  amyem58 | Jul 3, 2014 |
The Goncourt prize in France seems to be drawn to Russian writers who can write French better than many French natives.

In 1938 it was awarded to Henri Troyat (né Lev Aslanovitch Tarasov) for his L’Araigne. He later became a Member of L’Académie Française. In 1956 and again in 1975 it was awarded to Romain Gary (né Roman Kacew). And more recently, in 1995, André Makine (a.k.a. Gabriel Osmonde) received this prestigious prize.

Had Nabokov been the son not of an Anglophile but of a Francophile, we would probably have another example.

Le Testament français is my first novel by Makine. It is also his first novel. I am grateful to Fionnuala who drew it to my attention.

This book is autobiographical in a roundabout way since it is in the narration of his own early life that the narrator focuses on the account of someone else’s life, the life of his grandmother. And it is in so doing that the narrator can eventually find himself.

This book has appealed to me in many ways. First and foremost there is its language. Le testament is one of those books that leave a taste in your mouth because its language is so beautiful that you want to detain its words for a little while longer and savor them. The tale is that Makine, when seeking to publish his work in France, had to invent a fictional translator because editors could not believe that such splendid writing in French could be authored by a foreigner.

The second appeal is that ever since I read in my teens, and reread later on, [b:Le Grand Meaulnes|794779|Le Grand Meaulnes|Alain-Fournier|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1178422620s/794779.jpg|51583] by Alain-Forunier, I have developed a weakness for stories narrated by a young person in the French provinces and taking place either just before WWI or during the interwar period. They embody for me, fully, the meaning of the word nostalgia, even if this perfect nostalgia is extraneous to me since neither the period nor the geography belong to my lived experiences.

And finally there is the added theme of the mixed nationalities as a determinant in the formation of the self. These correspond to two countries standing at opposite cultural poles, and yet with many historical links. The young narrator is torn between the dreamed France with its scenes of sophisticated and exquisite Salons and cultural cafés or delicious countryside, and the tangible and rough Russia in the process of transforming itself into a Stalinist state, with its harsh scenes of severe poverty, disturbing cruelty and inhospitable steppes.

In this search for the self through the memories of someone else, the young narrator will try to collect cues from all possible sources and gradually finish the puzzle of his existence, even if some of these hints insist, like it so often happens with old photographs, to remain stubbornly mute.

Le testament français is a cherishable read and I recommended it to any lovers of Proust. Not only is Marcel Proust mentioned twice in the novel as the epitome of the dreamed refined Paris, but the Proustian themes of memories and self searching are consciously explored here again. This time they are given the new element of the divergent pull from both the Russian and French cultures. It is as if this novel were a deliberate tribute to Proust and his French writing, as felt by a Russian soul.

Wonderful.


-------

It has been translated into English (truly)as [b:Dreams of My Russian Summers|135158|Dreams of My Russian Summers|Andreï Makine|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1347769108s/135158.jpg|130243]. It is noteworthy that they have chosen the other cultural pole, the Russian not the French, for the English title. I find that this translated title is too prosaic and has lost the evocative power of the original. I hope the rest of the translatio has captured the original lyrical tone.
( )
  KalliopeMuse | Apr 2, 2013 |
Charlotte Lemmonier, the book's main character, is an exquisitely special and complex person, and to know her would have been a highlight in anyone's life. So it was a treat for me to read this apparently semi-autobiographical book about her, and the author's relationship to her as a beloved grandson and the ways in which she affected his life.

The book sketched a set of dreamlike images of a time and place that I knew nothing about. In particular, for example, I was blown away by the author's vivid account of the proud, honor-bound urban street battle of the "samovars" of post-WWI and the subsequent mysterious disappearance of these supposed heroes. How logical that such events would have happened, even if I never could have imagined them in a thousand years on my own; and (fortunately) how completely alien they are to the contemporary zeitgeist.

However incompletely I comprehended it, I appreciated the author's lucid glimpse into the not-so-long-ago (and, possibly, still extant?) culture of the Russians and his depiction of its many (but by no means all) differences with the westernized First World. ( )
  EpicTale | Aug 9, 2012 |
Incredibly beautiful story of a Russian boys who spends his summers with his French grandmother in Saransk in Russia. Through her eyes he not only learns about France and what it means to be French but also about what it means to be Russian. To call this book a coming-of-age-book would be inaccurate: it is so much more. Glimpses of 20th century Russian history, of what it means to feel like an outsider in society, of the importance and the meaning of language are presented in the most beautiful, delicate and thoughtful prose. This autobiography within a biography is one of the best reads of this year. Highly recommended. ( )
  JustJoey4 | Jun 13, 2012 |
An absolute beauty of a book. A small jewel. It touched my heart profoundly, both by the amazing talent of the writer and by the fact that I found a lot I could relate to in his story. Also, my kudos to the translator - which I am sure I will confirm when I eventually realize my ambition and read the book in French, its original language. ( )
  Clara53 | Aug 30, 2010 |
Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review

» Add other authors (16 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Andreï Makineprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Versteeg, JanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Epigraph
Dedication
For Marianne Veron and Herbert Lottman
For Laura and Thierry de Montalembert
For Jean-Christophe
First words
While still a child, I guessed that this very singular smile represented a strange little victory for each of the women: yes, a fleeting revenge for disappointed hopes, for the coarseness of men, for the rareness of beautiful and true things in this world.
Quotations
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
US title: Dreams of My Russian Summers
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0684852683, Paperback)

Each summer, Andrei Makine's narrator and his sister leave the Soviet Union for the mythical land of France-Atlantis. That this country is a beautiful confabulation, a consolation existing only in his maternal grandmother's mind, makes it no less real. Though Charlotte Lemonnier lives in a town on the edge of the steppe, each night she journeys to a long-ago Paris, telling tales that the children then translate with their more Russian minds: "The president of the Republic was bound to have something Stalinesque about him in the portrait sketched by our imagination. Neuilly was peopled with kolkhozniks. And the slow emergence of Paris from the waters evoked a very Russian emotion--that of fleeting relief after one more historic cataclysm ..."

Makine's first novel is a singing tribute to the alchemy of inspiration, but it is no less familiar with the sorrows of reality. And it is only as he gets older that the narrator begins to piece together his grandmother's far more tragic past--her experiences in the Great War, the October Revolution, and after. Dreams of My Russian Summers is a love letter to an extraordinary woman (it's hard not to see the book as autobiographical) as well as to language and literature, which the boy turns to in avoidance of history's manipulations. It has all the marks of an instant classic.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:00:38 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

A boy growing up in the Soviet Union of the 1960s and 1970s visits his French grandmother each summer, accumulating new tales of a Russia he never knew.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 3 descriptions

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
67 avail.
7 wanted
4 pay1 pay

Popular covers

Rating

Average: (3.85)
0.5
1 3
1.5
2 7
2.5 3
3 43
3.5 13
4 58
4.5 11
5 44

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.

 

Help/FAQs | About | Privacy/Terms | Blog | Contact | LibraryThing.com | APIs | WikiThing | Common Knowledge | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | 91,605,938 books! | Top bar: Always visible