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Dictionary of the Khazars: A Lexicon Novel in 100,000 Words (Male Edition) Paperback – International Edition, October 23, 1989
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Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
The Khazars were a real people, holding wide areas of modern-day Russian. They did convert, eventually to Judaism, although you would never learn this from Pavic in particular. No, Pavic is not worried about the reality of the Khazars, but in the melding of cultures of the Balkans, the state of Man and God and their relationships to each other, and odd connections that a literate reader makes between multiple books.
This is not a book with a plot. This is not a book with a single or simple way to read it. I believe that I have read the whole book twice, but they only way I could say that for certain would to be like Hansel and Gretzel and leave marks on the pages that I have actually finished. Like swimming through a dictionary or encyclopedia, this book invites you to read sections in no particular order, or, more realistically, in the order YOU see fit to choose.
The three sections (Christina, Muslem, Jewish) are seperated, yet intermingled due to cross references (many of them contradictory). They are colour-coded, yet this only provides one level of deliniation. Each section is set up like an encyclopedia in its own right. The unifying figure of Princess Ateh is sure to intrigue any sagacious reader; the whimsical nature of the book may seem superficial at first, but you will be drawn deeper into the mystery of "What is this all about?Read more ›
This is a book about the truth. The king of a mysterious people (the Khazars) summons three sages (a christian, a muslim and a jew), because he wants to convert to the true god. Centuries later, three literati write their own accounts of that conversion (each one is different). And this century, three researcher investigate again on what happened.
Finally, there is not a single truth. The book is organized as a dictionary, or better, three dictionaries (one for each religion). Every word inspires a different story and explanation, but all are filled with magic events and mysterious characters. The reader is the ultimate investigator -- and creator -- of the Khazar empire. It's up to him to discover the truth.
A final (and personal) note. This "dictionary" may seem an extremely sophisticated literary game, similar to those of Calvino and Perec. This is is true, but there is more. When the book was out, the civil war (apparently motivated by secular religious intolerance) had not begun yet. To me, this book seems also a passionate attempt to show how difficult is to attain the truth, and an invitation to tolerance.
The book is basically a dictionary of the imaginary Khazar people (this one happens to be the male version, the female version differs in only one word, but THAT makes all the difference), you read it as you would any other dictionary, you pick and entry and you read, that entry is also filled with cross references to other entries, where pertinent. It is at that point that the fun begins. By navigating in seemingly random fashion, a world begins to emerge, one as mystical and strange as it is real and solid.
Pavic has an unusual command of the absurdity of meaning; his juxtaposition of the normal with the bizarre as if there was nothing to it makes reading him exciting, new. The book will probably appeal to the historian inside us, as well as to the meddler, the gossiper and the prude in us. That juxtaposition creates a desire to know 'what next then?'
We meet princesses with deadly eyelids, slow mirrors and fast mirrors, poisonous books and killer winks...
Read it, but you will never be done with it!
The Khazars were a Turkic people living on the Ukrainian steppes and between the Black and Caspian Seas.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I wouldn't even know where to begin. Politics of the Balkans and Eastern Europe aside, amazing writing and imagination.Published 1 month ago by Alma Pasic
All other novels throughout history are examples of 'The Novel' evolving towards The Dictionary of The Khazars, which is final goal of the art form.Published 2 months ago by Levin A. Diatschenko
The layout is so terribly done, and some of the pages were cut off. We even suspected if they were printed legally?Published 10 months ago by Mia
A non-linear book. Fictional mythologies, parables, cultures, and religions all create a fantastic fantasy world, all rooted in actual history. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Jacob Smith
very interesting read. I bought another copy for a friend of minePublished 13 months ago by seattle
This novel is in the form of a dictionary, or rather, three dictionaries, each purporting to relate to a different aspect of the Khazar Polemic of the 9th Century AD. Read morePublished 14 months ago by R. E. Ramcharan
Author has great imagination. This is an unusual book in plot & structure. I don't pretend to understand it, but it's an intriguing read.Published 18 months ago by jugl11