- Paperback: 226 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (October 25, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0143119974
- ISBN-13: 978-0143119975
- Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.6 x 7.7 inches
- Shipping Weight: 7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #396,194 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Memory Chalet Paperback – October 25, 2011
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Amazon Best Books of the Month, November 2010: In 2008 Tony Judt, the historian and essayist whose book Postwar was quickly recognized as one of the landmark works of our time, was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease. He was soon almost fully paralyzed, but before his death in the summer of 2010 he managed to produce not only two works of political and intellectual history, Ill Fares the Land and the upcoming Thinking the Twentieth Century, but also a series of short essays that had a breathtaking reception when they appeared, a few at a time, in the New York Review of Books. The pieces were remarkable both for their content and their method of composition: isolated at night in the prison of his paralysis, Judt would sort through his memories, arranging them, to better remember them, in the "rooms" of a Swiss chalet he recalled from an idyllic childhood visit, before dictating them in the morning to be published. The essays are at times political but always personal, calling up memories of food, youth, sex, education, train travel, and other subjects with a clarity and intensity born of both his historian's skills of observation and judgment and the heightened awareness of time's passage imposed by his undeniable mortality. Collected now in The Memory Chalet, these reflections make up a memoir that evokes, with clear-eyed passion, the life of the mind, as well as the body. --Tom Nissley
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Bookmarks Magazine
“Loss is loss,” Judt writes, “and nothing is gained by calling it a nicer name.” Many of these chronological essays written while Judt struggled with ALS first appeared in the New York Review of Books, but taken together, they offer an astute portrait of a life cut short—but one also fully, richly lived. Judt writes with the same incisive intellectual clarity and polished writing of his other books, here evoking specific experiences formative to his childhood and intellectual growth. Yet, as critics point out, The Memory Chalet is no typical memoir. Instead, it goes well beyond personal, self-driven recollections to ruminate on the larger importance of Judt’s experiences. In the end, “perhaps The Memory Chalet isn’t an uplifting work,” concludes the Denver Post. “It is better than that: It is a sustaining one.” --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
But the vocal muscles are failing. The end of adult existence is approaching.
The book was published posthumously in 2010.
The man is, was, Tony Judt, an English historian in America. He was born in 1948 in a modest Jewish family in London. Childhood memories are the first part of this volume. I share the birth year, but not much else, apart from this: memories of austerity. Judt talks about food, cars, trains, ships... Nothing very exciting, really.
Then he becomes more interesting: he gives us his personal Bildungsroman. The years in an unloved school, with a strong hint at appreciation for demanding teaching. Member in a Zionist Labour youth organization, spending summers in Kibbutzim. Cambridge: the essay not focused on learning in class, but on learning about class. The strange world of the Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris. The myopic world of the 68 'revolution'. A rant against British education reforms. Words: advocating articulacy and preferring content over style.
Part 3 takes us to America. Judt went from a Cambridge fellowship to become a professor in California, later at NYU. He crossed the continent 8 times by road and has much to tell us about it, I bet.
It was in America that he felt the most European. But then a midlife crisis leads him the other direction: he specializes on Eastern Europe. He sees the ' market' ideology on par with communism as an intellectual hallucinogen. A playful chapter on American insanity re harassment: he got married to a student while at NYU. His love for world city NYC. His difficulty with the concept 'identity'.
Despite my different 'identity', I can identify with or at least follow him with many of his concerns and peeves. I find a common wavelength in many issues.
This book has made me decide that I need to read Judt's main claim to the historians' hall of fame, the book Postwar about modern European history.
In an interview shortly before passing away, he says what we all know :`I was always good with words'; and he imagines his children reading the stories decades from now, and say: `This was our dad.'
I believe that the stories will continue to remind us of life's beauty. Perhaps Tony saw it more clearly knowing that there was so little time left. From my own childhood, I remember H C Andersen's little Match Girl, who in her last moments saw what escapes the rest of us: `No one imagined what beautiful things she had seen ...'
Readers of Tony Judt's other books, `Postwar' the best known of them, will recall an unparalleled master of the English language. That alone gives me much reading pleasure. It is a book you enjoy the second time as well. We are all able to recognize the themes in the stories; for Tony, early childhood in London, austerity, busses, school, trains, and Cambridge, but only Tony Judt can infuse the stories with humanity and keep us in stitches.
For some years, I have enjoyed Tony Judt's essays and reviews in New York Review of Books; and I will miss them, sorely. My favorite bookstore and coffee shop has New York Review of Books displayed, a new one each week. I couldn't wait to read the next one of his essays. (Some are now collected in a separate book, called Reappraisals.)
Born a few years after the war, a member of the baby boom generation, Tony Judt spent his formative years in Europe, and summers in kibbutzim in Israel, spoke the languages, was early on immersed in left wing political trends, and out of all of it, he formed his own ideas later in life. In his professional life he was a Professor. (This reviewer shares these experiences.)
In his career, Tony Judt was a professor at NYU, director of the Remarque Institute, dedicated to the study of Europe, history and culture. By the way, Remarque is the author of "All Quiet at the Western Front. --- -- Review by Palle Jorgensen, Jan 2011.