A Different Sea

Claudio Magris, Author Harvill Press $20 (0p) ISBN 978-0-00-271339-9
Like its protagonist, this enigmatic novel yields pleasures grudgingly, with an unwillingness that borders on the perverse. In 1909, Enrico Mreule leaves the town of Gorizia in ``his small corner of the Danubian Empire'' and boards a steamship to Argentina-partly to escape military service, partly on a philosophic quest. While this taciturn dreamer spends the next 13 years as a solitary gaucho in Patagonia, a world war takes place and his best friend from childhood-a philosopher named Carlo who idealized Enrico-kills himself. By the time Enrico returns home, in fact, so much has changed that he feels as if ``he has left rather than returned.'' Resenting the expectations he senses others have for him, Enrico continues to the end of his days estranged from himself and those around him, a virtual misanthrope. Magris (Danube) writes vividly and learnedly, but readers will have difficulty sharing Carlo's vision of Enrico-he may instead appear more a cantankerous eccentric than ``a confident and dignified conscience.'' For all its philosophical posturing, this book offers little genuine wisdom. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 11/28/1994
Release date: 12/01/1994
Genre: Fiction
Hardcover - 978-0-8076-1346-7
Open Ebook - 112 pages - 978-1-4464-7529-4
Paperback - 104 pages - 978-1-78487-132-1
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