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Tales of the Night Hardcover – January, 1998

3.8 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Originally published in Denmark in 1990, before HYeg's 1993 bestseller, Smilla's Sense of Snow, these eight stories take us to eight separate corners of the world on the night of March 19, 1929, a sort of universal Black Monday of the soul. In "Journey into a Dark Heart," a young Danish mathematician falls in with Joseph Conrad on a train trip up the heart of the war-torn Congo; "Hommage a Bournonville" follows star-crossed love into the esoteric world of Danish ballet; in "An Experiment on the Continuity of Love," a female scientist investigates the decay of sexual attraction by an unusual method. It's all heavily symbolic stuff, unabashedly reminiscent of Conrad, Kafka and other early-20th-century masters. Despite a certain stiffness in the prose (the fault of the translation, perhaps), the deep despair and foreboding of well-intentioned Europeans victimized by the very culture that was supposed to educate them is often painfully credible. Potent but problematic, this collection lays bare the difficulties of love, even if it must make do without the dazzling lucidity of HYeg's more recent works.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Danish author HYeg has published four novels in the United States, including the critically acclaimed thriller Smilla's Sense of Snow (LJ 8/93). This book is his first collection of stories. Like his novels, HYeg's short fiction examines the clash of radically different cultures: Western and non-Western, straight and gay, scientific and magical. In "The Verdict on Ignatio Landstad Rasker," a straight-faced judge falls helplessly in love with a man he has just sentenced to prison for homosexual behavior. In "An Experiment on the Constancy of Love," a brilliant student of physicist Niels Bohr devotes her research to time travel. In the strongest story in the collection, "Journey into a Dark Heart," the central character is a mathematician who has abandoned his studies after a disillusioning discussion with Kurt Godel. He accepts a job with an African railroad company, only to encounter Joseph Conrad lending support to anti-European terrorists. HYeg's use of a polished 19th-century prose style to examine 20th-century issues strongly recalls the work of fellow Dane Isak Dinesen. Recommended for most fiction collections.
-?Edward B. St. John, Loyola Law Sch., Los Angeles
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 278 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar Straus & Giroux (T); 1st American ed edition (January 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374272549
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374272548
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,841,142 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By EA Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 25, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Before Peter Hoeg wrote his bestselling "Smilla's Sense of Snow," he crafted eight intriguing short stories in "Tales of the Night." It's a tangle of the heart and mind, art and culture, with a dark atmosphere and very good writing. Certainly it's far above the average short story collection.

In eight different parts of the world, eight different stories are unfolding on ht evening of March 19, 1929. A young Danish mathematician learns more about the conquest of Africa, when he finds himself on a train with Joseph Conrad and General von Lettow-Vorbeck. A ballet dancer loves and learns about reality. A judge finds himself falling madly in love with a man he's just jailed... for homosexual behavior. A small town is swept by a smallpox epidemic. And through these dark stories run a flurry of artists, students, scientists, Nazis and lovers.

Peter Hoeg is a writer for people who like their books deep and intense. There isn't a light or fluffy moment in the whole book. In a way, "Tales of the Night" is all about love. We see love in all its different forms -- pain, learning, redemption and fear. While it isn't obvious at first, the depths of Hoeg's writing becomes clearer on the second or third time around.

Hoeg's writing is beautiful -- very thick and slow, and almost dreamlike. It's not something to be read quickly. He weaves in a lot of symbolism and philosophy, without making them "message stories." And at the same time, since the book is set in 1929, he includes some of the political rumblings that came before war.

The characters of Hoeg's stories are all loners. Whether they're travellers, lovers, or artists, they all seem to be enclosed in little private bubbles. Not to mention a bit repressed and wrapped up in their own thoughts.
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Format: Hardcover
Peter Hoeg is one of the greatest writers of these years. His simple and fluent language is the ideal medium of a deep, passionate and intelligent storytelling. All the tales of this books take place the 19th March 1929 and tell of love in several different ways, some unbelievable but true as well. And truth is another thing Hoeg presents in its ambiguous and fearful points of view. There is a constant tension between magic and pragmatism, ideal and real, in his pages; a hard and thought provoking research. The tales of Bourneville, Ignatio Rasker and of the poor egocentric painter Simon Bering are masterpieces; wonderfully written, their characters have only one thing in common: a great humanity, in the most complete sense of the word. The story of Vaden By recalls, in its last pages, a bitter sweet fable of Andersen; we see the Great Monsieur Andress as a new Magic Flute player. As a perfect ending, the last dreamy,vaguely Borges-like tale leaves us with the idea that Hoeg's (and our) search has not alredy ended and probably will never.
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Format: Paperback
Fans of lucid, thought-provoking writing will enjoy Peter Hoeg's offering, Tales of the Night.
As in his previous writing, Hoeg's Tales are full of outsiders, people who have learnt that "it may be necessary to stand on the outside if one is to see things clearly." Clearly, Hoeg has done some standing on the outside himself, and in Tales of the Night he shares some of what he has learned.
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