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A Whole Life by Robert Seethaler

A Whole Life (2014)

by Robert Seethaler

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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» See also 89 mentions

English (18)  German (8)  Dutch (3)  Spanish (3)  Italian (1)  Catalan (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (35)
Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
This is a lovely little book that follows the life of a man that definitely got the short end of the stick. Nevertheless, he manages to live fully through moments of joy and sorrow. This book, like its protagonist, moves quietly while paying close attention to what makes an ordinary life worth living. ( )
  redwritinghood38 | Nov 6, 2018 |
A Whole Life is an unusual book to be an international bestseller. It’s a very quiet book, a kind of elegy for a very quiet, solitary man. I’ve seen it compared somewhere to Stoner by John Williams but although their principal characters share the same stoicism there isn’t the same sense of a life subordinate to self-sacrifice. Stoner, a college professor, gives up the love of his life because in America at that time divorce would have destroyed not only his career but also hers – and that sacrifice would change them both in ways that would harm their love. But (without in any way diminishing the integrity of either character), it seems to me that in A Whole Life Andreas Eggar is more of an Everyman. He leads a much more humble life, he has very few choices, and he loses the love of his life through a natural disaster not through any noble self-sacrifice. Seethaler’s novella is more about the quiet heroism of an ordinary man just getting by in a world that doesn’t care about him at all. He represents any man who somehow survives an awful childhood without having his spirit broken, who plods through schooling that’s irrelevant to his needs and then drifts through low-paid casual work, and who serves his country in a war he doesn’t understand and is then punished for being on the losing side. And he doesn’t even have the joys of family life because of the way fate served him.
A Whole Life starts in 1933, a date that many of us associate with Hitler’s rise to power, but the remote mountains of Austria are far away from the shrieking demagogue. The village where Eggars arrived as a child in 1902 was still farming by hand with axe and scythe, and cars and tractors have not yet replaced the horse and cart. The story begins with a curious episode that juxtaposes Death and Love on a day that Eggars will never forget. He was rescuing a near-comatose goatherd from a lonely death on the mountain when the goatherd got up off the stretcher and ran away from the Cold Lady of Death, never to be seen again. Afterwards, taking a restorative drink at the inn, Andreas then sees a lovely young woman:
All his life Andreas Eggar would look back on this moment, again and again: that brief smile that afternoon in front of the quietly crackling guesthouse stove. (p.8)
Episodes from the past fill in the backstory but don’t seem to disrupt the chronology because even though progress comes to the valley there is a pervading sense of timelessness.

To read the rest of my review please visit https://anzlitlovers.com/2018/01/15/a-whole-life-by-robert-seethaler-translated-... ( )
  anzlitlovers | Jan 15, 2018 |
What is a full life? A happy life? This short book covers the lifespan of Andreas Eggers, who leaves his small mountain village only once (to fight in WWII). We meet him as a young orphan who comes to live with his uncle. Andreas works on his uncle's farm, then on his own doing odd jobs. He falls in love, marries, builds a home. Suffers tragedies and set backs, finds companionship, demonstrates occasional heroism. It is these small and relatively large events that make up a life...any life...and this book made me reflect on what it all means. ( )
  LynnB | May 18, 2017 |
Lovely, intimate book about a man's simple life and the beauty it holds for him. ( )
  padmajoy | Feb 23, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
"No praise is too high for A Whole Life. Its daunting beauty lingers. This is a profound, wise and humane novel that no reader will forget."

» Add other authors (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Seethaler, Robertprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bick, LaurenzDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Collins, CharlotteTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Zintel, UrbanAuthor photosecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"Man einem Mann seine Stunden abkaufen, man kann ihm seine Tage stehlen oder ihm sein ganzes Leben rauben. Aber niemand kann einem Mann auch nur einen einzigen Augenblick nehmen. So ist das, und jetzt lass mich in Frieden."
Dann dachte er an seine Zukunft, die sich so unendlich weit vor ihm ausbreitete, gerade weil er nichts von ihr erwartete. Und manchmal, wenn er lange genug so dalag, hatte er das Gefühl, die Erde unter seinem Rücken würde sich ganz sachte heben und senken, un in diesen Momenten wusste er, dass die Berge atmeten.
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Set in the mid-twentieth century and told with beauty and tenderness, Robert Seethaler's A Whole Life is a story of man's relationship with an ancient landscape, of the value of solitude, of the arrival of the modern world, and above all, of the moments, great and small, that make us who we are.

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