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Two Lives – tekijä: Vikram Seth
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Two Lives (alkuperäinen julkaisuvuosi 2005; vuoden 2006 painos)

– tekijä: Vikram Seth (Tekijä)

JäseniäKirja-arvostelujaSuosituimmuussijaKeskimääräinen arvioMaininnat
1,1012513,532 (3.68)82
Shanti Behari Seth, brought up in India, was sent by his family in the 1930s to Berlin--though he could not speak a word of German--to study medicine and dentistry. Helga Gerda Caro, known to everyone as "Henny" was also born in 1908, in Berlin, to a Jewish family--cultured, patriotic, and intensely German. When the family decided to take Shanti as a lodger, Henny's first reaction was, "Don't take the black man!" But a friendship flowered, and when Henny fled Germany just one month before war broke out, she was met at Victoria Station by the only person in the country she knew: Shanti. Vikram Seth has woven together their story, which recounts the arrival into this childless couple's lives of their great-nephew from India--the teenage Vikram. The result is a tapestry of India, the Third Reich and the Second World War, Auschwitz and the Holocaust, Israel and Palestine, postwar Germany and 1970s Britain.--From publisher description.… (lisätietoja)
Jäsen:TCAPLIB
Teoksen nimi:Two Lives
Kirjailijat:Vikram Seth (Tekijä)
Info:Abacus (2006), Edition: New e., 512 pages
Kokoelmat:Oma kirjasto
Arvio (tähdet):
Avainsanoja:OWNKP, C08, S03, B02

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Two Lives (tekijä: Vikram Seth) (2005)

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englanti (22)  ranska (2)  saksa (1)  Kaikki kielet (25)
Näyttää 1-5 (yhteensä 25) (seuraava | näytä kaikki)
> Croisant des lettres de sa tante retrouvées après sa mort et les récits de son oncle, alors âgé, l'écrivain s'est livré à une reconstitution très émouvante de ce qui ne peut, au fond, être reconstruit : la vie d'autrui, les sentiments qui l'ont guidée, sa vérité, ses joies et ses chagrins...
C'est la langue d'un lettré, qui parle chinois, dessine à la perfection, chante (d'une fort jolie voix) des Lieder de Schubert et des chants traditionnels indiens, se plaît à croire que l'exil volontaire (le sien ou celui de son oncle) n'est en rien facteur de douleur. Seulement de richesse et d'une forme de jouissance - l'exultation de pouvoir s'approprier des cultures et des savoirs nouveaux, comme le fit l'oncle en apprenant le latin à toute vitesse, puis Vikram, quarante ans plus tard, avec la langue allemande. --(Raphaëlle Rérolle - Le Monde du 23 mars 2007)

> Par Collectif (Psychologies magazine) : Les 50 romans qui changent la vie
Plonger dans ce volumineux livre, c’est accepter de se perdre. L’expérience vous conduira à voyager entre les époques et les genres, entre l’Inde et l'Europe, à l’orée de la Seconde Guerre mondiale également. C’est à une véritable traversée du dernier siècle que Vikram Seth vous convie. En préambule de ce roman très personnel, dans lequel alternent un récit à la première personne du singulier et des reproductions de lettres, télégrammes et photos en noir et blanc, l’auteur et narrateur campe sa galerie de personnages familiaux. Héros ordinaires d’une époque troublée, l’oncle Shanti Behari Seth et Henny Gerda Caro, sa femme juive allemande rencontrée dans l’Allemagne nazie des années 1930, sont ces « deux vies » contées ici. Un couple extraordinaire qui triompha de bien des écueils, connut ses parts d’ombre et laissa une empreinte tangible dans la vie de nombre de ses proches, dont Vikram lui-même. De l’Inde à l’Angleterre, de l’Afrique du Nord aux Etats-Unis, ce livre peint une fresque sociale, familiale et historique singulière autant qu’universelle.
Un document exceptionnel où le souci de vérité, même dérangeant, est constant et qui représente, plus que tout, l’illustration d’un « famille, je vous aime » d’un petit-neveu devenu un grand écrivain. — C.S.
  Joop-le-philosophe | Jan 30, 2019 |
Two lives is a hefty volume consisting of a dual-biography of Vikram Seth's great-Uncle and great-Aunt. As a young man, the author came to live with his great-Uncle and great-Aunt as he moved from India to live with them in England, where he went to school. While their lives are perhaps interesting to the author, they are not necessarily interesting to readers.

Reading 500 pages about people who are only remotely related to Vikram Seth is quite a struggle, especially if one wonders why one would read a book like that. Althought the book does tell the reader something about the young Vikram Seth, that would barely be enough motivation to read a tome like this.

The distance in the relationship shows equally in the way the authors deals with the material. The first biography is distanced, and confusing as the story jumps across history and places, alternately referring to the great-Uncle using different names, such as Uncle Shanti and the Shanti-Uncle, Shanti, etc. While Shanti B. Seth led an interesting life, there are no doubt countless other anonymous people who have lived equally or even more interesting lives.

The second live describes the biography of Seth's great-Aunt, Henny Gerda Caro. Much time is invested into describing the horrible fate of the great-Aunt's German Jewish family, most of whose family members perished during the holocaust. Here, the author's descriptions of their fate are so incredibly horrendous and hard that they can barely be seen as being written by a family member. Here he describes the death of his great-Aunt's sister, Lola:

Lola's naked body, groteskly contorted, possibly broken-boned, her face blue and unrecognisable and bleeding from mouth and nose, her legs streaked with shit and blood, would, after a hosing-down, have been dragged out of the room, possibly with a noose and grappling-hook, to a large lift that would have taken her together with the man others up to the ground floor of the building. Here, in the furnace room, a trolley would have moved her body along to continue the procedure. Any gold teeth she might have had would have been broken out of her mouth with pliers, and she would have been tipped out of the trolley into one of the fifteen cast-iron ovens. She would have been disposed of in about twenty minutes, her own residual fat helping to sustain the heat of the oven, thus saving fuel.

The description of the holocaust and how it affected the family of his aunt takes up the largest part of the book. Clearly, the author must have been filled with a fascination or horror to write this part of family history out of his system.

Obviously, while some writers write about what they think their readers or publishers might like, Vikram Seth is known for his idiosyncratic choice to write about what fascinates him, breaking any taboo or convention, to pursue what interests him. This is the prerogative of the author. ( )
  edwinbcn | Dec 7, 2014 |
Another by one of my favourite authors, and this one spans a large amount of time and space, so right up my alley. It's a bit like a partial memoir, starting by tracing Vikram Seth's move to the UK as a teenager, and then his first few years, then the focus shifts to first his Uncle and then his Aunt, both of whom have very interesting stories, involving the second world war, Nazism and the Holocaust. It includes lots of letters, and traces the relationships his Aunt and various friends in detail, giving an intimate portrayal of what life was like at that time. Although I knew the facts and the history, this story gave me a view into the personal side of it all. A warning: I was starting to lose interest during the part about Vikram, and thought about abandoning the book, but it was well worth it in the end. It is very detailed, sometimes perhaps too much (especially towards the end), but I think it's well worth the effort). I've always thought that Vikram Seth, in all his books, has a talent for writing kindly and sympathetically about people. Even people who you might dislike if you met them, somehow seem to come off well under his pen. I can't wait for A Suitable Girl! ( )
  kmstock | Jul 7, 2013 |
This is an interesting idea: writing biographies of relatives is normally the province of self-published amateurs rather than well-known novelists, unless of course the relatives happen to be distinguished figures themselves. It's maybe considered as being a bit below the dignity of a serious literary figure; fortunately, Seth seems to be a "try anything once" sort of writer, who's not afraid of stirring up a little family dust.

Seth here has a go at applying his novelist's insight to untangling the various threads in his personal relationship with, and understanding of, his great uncle and great aunt. In the process, he brings out some interesting ideas about the ways extended families and groups of friends ("Wahlverwandschaften") work, the way we relate to people of different generations in different stages of our lives, and how little we sometimes know about the significant events in the lives of people we are close to. This works very well, and I found a lot in this aspect of the book that I could identify with.

The book works rather less well when you read it as conventional biography. The non-chronological structure is sometimes confusing or requires a lot of repetition for us to keep track of the sequence of events, particularly in the section that is based on Henny's surviving letters from the 1940s; there are big chunks of historical background material that will be redundant for almost all readers; there are some areas of his subjects' lives that we would gladly know less about (their health problems in old age, for instance), and others that Seth seems strangely uninterested in, like Henny's working life.

A little disappointing, perhaps, but definitely worth reading. ( )
1 ääni thorold | Jan 8, 2013 |
Vikram Seth never writes the same book twice. I don't know what's next, but it would not surprise me too terribly much if it were a brilliant 200-page coloring book about a family of flamingos. (It would, of course, have a sonnet in the dedication. It's nice to have at least one constant.)

This one is a memoir of his great-uncle Shanti and great-aunt Henny, and it's an excellent memorial to two people he loved. It's generally interesting, often gripping. With that said, the last section in particular might have profited by a ruthless attack with a large set of pruning shears. ( )
  SR510 | Jul 23, 2011 |
Näyttää 1-5 (yhteensä 25) (seuraava | näytä kaikki)
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Katso lisäohjeita Common Knowledge -sivuilta (englanniksi).
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To Shanti Uncle and Aunty Henny
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When I was seventeen I went to live with my great-uncle and great-aunt in England.
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Englanninkielinen Wikipedia (2)

Shanti Behari Seth, brought up in India, was sent by his family in the 1930s to Berlin--though he could not speak a word of German--to study medicine and dentistry. Helga Gerda Caro, known to everyone as "Henny" was also born in 1908, in Berlin, to a Jewish family--cultured, patriotic, and intensely German. When the family decided to take Shanti as a lodger, Henny's first reaction was, "Don't take the black man!" But a friendship flowered, and when Henny fled Germany just one month before war broke out, she was met at Victoria Station by the only person in the country she knew: Shanti. Vikram Seth has woven together their story, which recounts the arrival into this childless couple's lives of their great-nephew from India--the teenage Vikram. The result is a tapestry of India, the Third Reich and the Second World War, Auschwitz and the Holocaust, Israel and Palestine, postwar Germany and 1970s Britain.--From publisher description.

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