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Memoirs of a Mendicant Professor

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ISBN-13: 978-0856358593
ISBN-10: 0856358592
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 219 pages
  • Publisher: Carcanet Pr (March 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0856358592
  • ISBN-13: 978-0856358593
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.3 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,065,490 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
These memoirs go from 1954 to 1969. During these years, Enright wrote and taught in Hiroshima, Berlin, Bangkok and Singapore, with short stretches in London in between. From Japan and Thailand, he reports some mild anecdotes about foreign cultures and attitudes; Berlin and its inhabitants seem cold and unsympathetic.

Enright (1920 - 2002) was a liberal, worse even, a free thinker, who occasionally enjoyed a bit of opium; he several times clashed with the authorities. Thai police beat him up and put him behind bars for a few hours; in Singapore, the government severely objected to Enright's criticism of a government-controlled national culture. The part about Singepore's Enright affair is maybe the most interesting, especially the letters exchanged between Enright and ministers with some remarkable vocabulary.

Memoirs of a Mendicant Professor, however, appeared in 1969, while Enright was still based in Singapore. Unlike in his chapters about Japan, Germany and Thailand, Enright can't distance himself from Singapore: The city state gets half of the book's pages, and the description of the Enright affair is followed by strings of heterogenous bits and pieces - Enright produces unconnected details about local history, students compared to Thailand and Japan, education, short trips to Australia, Hongkong, China, Egypt. One late chapter is even titled Loose Ends, because it gathers this and that without a connecting thread.

Up until the Enright affair, the writer sounds friendly, mildly verbose and talkative, slightly self-ironic, an easy read without too much scientific showing-off. The last, fraying chapters about Singapore, I found difficult to digest.
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