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The Book of Eels: Our Enduring Fascination with the Most Mysterious… (2019)

by Patrik Svensson

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3191063,948 (4.02)15
Hva er det egentlig som er så fascinerende ved ålen? Hvorfor reiser den én gang i livet til Sargassohavet for å gyte? Og hvordan finner den fram? Ålen er mytisk, mystisk og utrydningstruet, og Åleevangeliet er en bok om verdens mest gåtefulle fisk. I naturvitenskapen er det nemlig ett mysterium som gjenstår, ett vesen forskerne ikke forstår seg på. Det kalles bare «ålespørsmålet», og har forundret vitenskapsfolk gjennom århundrer - fra Aristoteles via Sigmund Freud til dagens marinbiologer. Åleevangeliet er også en beretning om et far-sønn-forhold, og om hvordan ålefisket knyttet dem sammen: «Jeg kan ikke huske at vi noen gang snakket om noe annet enn ål og hvordan vi best kunne fange den, der nede ved elva. Faktisk kan jeg ikke huske at vi snakket sammen i det hele tatt - kanskje fordi vi aldri gjorde det», skriver Patrik Svensson i sin debutbok. Dette er en beretning om opphav, oppvekst, ensomhet, livet og hvordan det bør leves. Og om livets siste og uunngåelige utfordring: hvordan man håndterer døden.… (more)
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» See also 15 mentions

English (7)  Swedish (1)  Norwegian (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (10)
Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
Who knew that eels were so fascinating?!

There is a lot about the life cycle of eels that scientists still don't know. They are strange and fascinating animals. Svensson talks about what we do know about eels, and the history of how we learned what we know, including the journeys of one scientist who spent 20 years roaming the oceans looking for eel breeding grounds. Interspersed with this natural history is Svensson's memoir, focusing on his relationship with his dad and how he and his dad went eel-fishing and bonded over their fascination with the animals. Svensson also explores the role of eels in the economy, in cooking, and in literature.

At the heart of this book is mystery: eels are very mysterious and have baffled scientists forever, and that's what makes them so interesting. ( )
  Gwendydd | Aug 29, 2021 |
Ein Büch über Aale??? Allerdings wurde ich neugierig denn ich hatte vorab sehr viel Gutes über dieses Buch gehört Zu Recht! Der Aal war bis dahin eins der letzten Tiere über das ich näher nachgedacht hätte. Aber man erfährt so viel Interessantes und Überraschendes über diesen Fisch, der sich zum großen Teil der Forschungen der Menschen entzieht. Wenig ist gesichert, vieles bleibt unklar. Parallel erfahren wir die Geschichte von Herrn Svensson, der Beziehung zu seinem Vater und wie beide Aalfischer wurden. Das Buch war für mich aber immer da am stärksten, wo es tatsächlich um den Aal und um sein großes Mysterium ging, und weniger um die Menschen. ( )
  Heidi64 | Jul 18, 2021 |
This was lovely and very compelling. It was a truly great balance between the memoir of a man and his dad fishing for eels, alongside the barely known story of those same eels. It’s utterly fascinating that so little is known to this day, and I kind of love that there are “world’s foremost eel experts” out there still trying to learn more. ( )
  spinsterrevival | Feb 9, 2021 |
An unusual, and very charming interdisciplinary look at eels, our relationship with them as objects of culinary, scientific, ecological, religious, literary, historical and philosophical interest, interleaved with the more personal story of the role of eel-related father-son bonding moments in the author's own life, and at what that tells us about recent Swedish social history.

At the centre of the story is the way that eels are in one sense quite familiar, everyday creatures — we may only rarely see them but we know they are around, or at least we think we do — and in another sense deeply mysterious, living important parts of their lives in ways that science has had great difficulties studying. We know, for instance, that eel larvae appear to migrate across the Atlantic from the Sargasso Sea, and that sexually mature eels have been seen heading towards it, so it seems to follow that that's where eels breed, but despite many attempts, no-one has actually seen any sign of them doing it (the Japanese eel is slightly less coy than its Atlantic cousins, apparently).

It almost seems too good to be true that Sigmund Freud had his first scientific job attempting to find an eel with male sex organs, in a marine science lab in Trieste. Svensson looks at this, and many other wonderful anecdotes from the history of great scientists struggling with "the eel question". And at eels in literature, with starring roles for Graham Swift and Günter Grass, as we would expect (but no mention of Arthur Ransome, sadly). There's a little bit about eels in various religions and popular beliefs, although this doesn't go quite as deep as the more zoological parts of the book. And quite a lot, as we would expect, about how eels now seem to be under threat from human activity, and how their obscure life-cycle complicates things (species are counted by numbers of breeding adults, but for the eel that's exactly the thing we know least about!).

The personal story of Svensson's relationship with his working-class father, as expressed through their night-time eel-fishing expeditions together, alternates with these more general sections of the book. And they are, like most fishing stories, much more about the fishermen than about the fish (or indeed the fishing). Quite moving at times, but also often touching and funny.

An interesting and lively book, even if ichthyology isn't your thing. ( )
1 vote thorold | Nov 27, 2020 |
All the facts about eels are interesting, but the thoughts about man's relationship with nature and the mysterious is even more so. Who knew eels were such fascinating creatures with habits that scientists have yet to figure out. The author writes about that, but so much more including his relationship with his father and his relationship with God or the "mysterious."

I heard the author interviewed and it sounded so interesting; I wasn't disappointed. Only gave 3.5 stars just because I save my high rations for books that are really my favorites. This deserves 5 stars for the ingenuity of writing. ( )
  maryreinert | Oct 29, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Patrik Svenssonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Broome, AgnesTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Granz, HannaÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Hva er det egentlig som er så fascinerende ved ålen? Hvorfor reiser den én gang i livet til Sargassohavet for å gyte? Og hvordan finner den fram? Ålen er mytisk, mystisk og utrydningstruet, og Åleevangeliet er en bok om verdens mest gåtefulle fisk. I naturvitenskapen er det nemlig ett mysterium som gjenstår, ett vesen forskerne ikke forstår seg på. Det kalles bare «ålespørsmålet», og har forundret vitenskapsfolk gjennom århundrer - fra Aristoteles via Sigmund Freud til dagens marinbiologer. Åleevangeliet er også en beretning om et far-sønn-forhold, og om hvordan ålefisket knyttet dem sammen: «Jeg kan ikke huske at vi noen gang snakket om noe annet enn ål og hvordan vi best kunne fange den, der nede ved elva. Faktisk kan jeg ikke huske at vi snakket sammen i det hele tatt - kanskje fordi vi aldri gjorde det», skriver Patrik Svensson i sin debutbok. Dette er en beretning om opphav, oppvekst, ensomhet, livet og hvordan det bør leves. Og om livets siste og uunngåelige utfordring: hvordan man håndterer døden.

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