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A Legacy: A Novel Paperback – May 8, 2001

ISBN-13: 978-1582431420 ISBN-10: 1582431426 Edition: Reprint

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About the Author

Sybille Bedford was born in 1911, in Charlottenburg, Germany, and was brought up in Italy, England, and France. in 1953, she made her literary debut with A Visit to Don Otavio, and has since published eight other books - including Jigsaw, A Legacy, A Favourite of the Gods, and A Compass Error, as well as classic accounts of criminal trials and other courtroom cases, and an acclaimed biography of her mentor Aldous Huxley. She was vice president of English PEN and one of Britain's nine Companions of Literature. Ms. Bedford lived in London where she passed away in February 2006.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Counterpoint; Reprint edition (May 8, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1582431426
  • ISBN-13: 978-1582431420
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #60,566 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 32 people found the following review helpful By J. Marren VINE VOICE on May 29, 2002
Format: Paperback
The story takes place in the waning days of the Kaiser's rule, pre-WWI, in a society that seems to be desperately trying to avoid the instability in central Europe that finally led to the First World War. Two German families linked by an ill-fated marriage live a life that seems unimaginable to us in modern times. One Jewish, one Catholic, both wealthy, insular and largely idle, the characters spend their days moving from place to place--France, Spain, Germany, collecting art and antiques, taking air during daily carriage rides, eating what seem to be endless meals, and expecting the world to go on as it has forever. A relatively minor event--the decison to send a child to a military prep school, results in personal tragedy but also national crisis--which could only have happened in a society about to fall apart. I found this book a compelling look at a world and a society I know little about--and Bedford's prose is wonderful.
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30 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Frederick D. Friedman on November 3, 2002
Format: Paperback
I had read about Sybille Bedford and her writings.I know that of late there has been a revival of interest in her work. I was prepared to like this book. But I was disappointed. I will assume the problem is with me, not the book. That said, while some aspects of the place and time are well-sketched, I do not think any of the characters was well-developed. We see Jules, Clara, Sarah etc. in a number of different settings/situations over a period of several years but I did not feel that I came to know them nor did they interest me greatly. I should add that the significance of some of the main plot points completely eluded me. Without spoiling the book for those who haven't read it, I will just cite as an example a letter that is not delivered to its intended recipient. I could tell that this was intended to be one of the cruxes of the plot. However, why the character entrusted with the letter didn't deliver it and what would have happened had he done so--points I am sure the author wanted to be apparent to the reader--I could not fathom. The place and time--Germany before World War One--are of great interest to me. The situation of the Jews in the Germany of that time--a family of wealthy, totally assimilated Jews is depicted in some detail in the book--also interests me. But the novel failed to involve me emotionally--it left me cold. Nevertheless, I admire the author--she is intelligent and her prose is elegant.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Yaakov Ben Shalom on June 19, 2013
Format: Paperback
This is the story of three intertwined families in the Germany in the early 20th century: an haute bourgeois Jewish family from Berlin and two aristocratic Catholic families from southwestern Germany. The idea is intriguing, but I found this famous novel to be very disappointing.

The writing is not pleasant to read. At first, I wondered why the translation is so bad. But then I realized that the book was originally written in English. I thought that the book might be nearly 100 years old, but it was written in 1956. The author's writing is odd at times. There are extremely archaic phrases used (e.g. "he indited a statement to the judiacture" instead of "he sent a message to the court"). There is frequently incorrect grammar or incorrect use of prepositions (e.g. 's as a plural). For a novel set in Germany, terms are over-anglicized. For example, the German War Minister is called the "Secretary of War." Even worse, the German Foreign Minister is called the "Secretary of State." That's completely inaccurate because the Germans call the permanent Deputy Foreign Minister "Secretary of State" or "State Secretary." Sometimes the word "Jew" is not capitalized (i.e. "jew"), and sometimes "Catholic" isn't either (i.e. "catholic). _Not capitalizing_ "Jew" and "Catholic" actually gives the words a different meaning in English. The editor should have caught this.

There are long passages in French without a courtesy translation for the reader. There are lots of passages and phrases in German, again without translation.

Much of the dialogue is off-putting. Many of main characters talk past each other in an odd way, and various plot devices and secondary characters are not introduced.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 8, 2000
Format: Paperback
Trough the life and times of two German families at the beginning of the last century, Sybille Bedford recreates an European world lost to globalization. It was a world where each country, -each region in fact- had a particular way of seeing life, and an authentic life style. Bedford's elegant and personal prose is really original, but this book shares the spirit of Margerite Yourcenar's memories of her own ancestors. Such a beautiful and clever book!
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