Simon Mawer The Glass Room

ISBN 13: 9780349121321

The Glass Room

3.88 avg rating
( 8,631 ratings by Goodreads )
 
9780349121321: The Glass Room
View all copies of this ISBN edition:
 
 

Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2009. Inspired by a real house, an amazing modernist symbol, Simon Mawer has written his best novel yet, a story guaranteed to dazzle and intrigue the reader.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

Simon Mawer was born in 1948 in England, and spent his childhood there, in Cyprus and in Malta. He has lived with his wife in Italy for more than 20 years, and he teaches at the English School in Rome.

From The Washington Post:

From The Washington Post's Book World/washingtonpost.com Reviewed by by Ron Charles During the pause between world wars, a Jewish businessman and his new wife commissioned a startlingly modern house for themselves in Czechoslovakia. They hired the German architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and gave him free rein to design an avant-garde structure that looks like a Mondrian painting in three dimensions: a long, low building of dramatic straight lines, marked by a large room with floor-to-ceiling glass walls. Unbelievably, this elegant house survived the dismemberment of the First Republic of Czechoslovakia, German bombing, Soviet invasion and the natural forces that conspire against a neglected building. The Villa Tugendhat, which has been a public museum since the mid-1990s, remains a masterpiece of minimalist architecture, and now it's the evocative setting for a stirring new novel that almost won this year's Booker Prize. The author, Simon Mawer, moves through six decades of European history, much of it unspeakably tragic, using the glass house as a window on the hopes and fears of its various inhabitants and the conflicts that rip Europe apart. Pianists and Nazis, doctors and servants, everyone is drawn to the living room's extraordinary vista and feels aroused by the promise of such clarity: This is "a place of balance and reason," Mawer writes, "an ageless place held in a rectilinear frame that handles light like a substance and volume like a tangible material and denies the very existence of time." But the architecture proves purer than the human spirit. Again and again, the residents of this glass house find they can't tolerate the light of full disclosure even as they're attracted to it. Mawer has recast the original owner of the house as a sophisticated automobile magnate named Viktor Landauer. An idealist determined to throw off the trappings of religion, aristocracy and nationalism, he's prone to grand slogans about the future and eager to enlist a mesmerizing young architect from Germany, "a poet of space and structure" who shares his sense of the exciting new world. "Ever since Man came out of the cave he has been building caves around him," Mies tells Viktor. "But I wish to take Man out of the cave and float him in the air. I wish to give him a glass space to inhabit." Viktor finds these ideas captivating, no matter how expensive. This is the "dream that went with the spirit of a brand new country in which they found themselves," he thinks, "a state in which being Czech or German or Jew would not matter, in which democracy would prevail and art and science would combine to bring happiness to all people." Mawer spreads the dramatic irony pretty thick here in the first part of the novel. With trouble already smoldering in Germany, two or three toasts to the gloriously peaceful future would have been plenty. Fortunately, he's more interesting and subtle in bringing out the small, private ways in which these characters fail to live up to their ideals. The Landauers' glass house has the effect "of liberating people from the strictures and conventions of the ordinary, of making them transparent," but that turns out to be a Foucauldian nightmare, more problematic than anyone realizes. Honestly, could you live in a place "where there will be no secrets"? While the architect insists his clients don't need walls, Viktor discovers that, in fact, parts of his life must remain cloistered. His wife, Liesel, announces to a curious public that "living inside a work of art is an experience of sublime delight," but she doesn't know what Viktor is doing in the back streets of Vienna. And soon their happy marriage becomes a kind of stage performance, free for all to see but deeply deceptive. "The Glass Room" works so effectively because Mawer embeds these provocative aesthetic and moral issues in a war-torn adventure story that's eerily erotic and tremendously exciting. No matter how transparent and luminescent their architecture, the Landauers still ride the murky currents of history. The house endures, "plain, balanced, perfect; and indifferent," but the family is swept aside by the battles that tear through Czechoslovakia. In the second half of the novel, Mawer rotates several different casts through the Landauers' home, using the glass room to examine people entirely unlike the original owners. In one of the most chilling sections, a German geneticist sets up his laboratory in the abandoned house and hopes the light of science will confirm Hitler's racial propaganda. His work is peaceful -- lots of careful measuring and photographing, "the cool gaze of scientific objectivity" -- but that only renders the whole enterprise more obscene. And like everyone else who lives in this glass room, he finds that such bright exposure makes him more determined to conceal the darkest aspects of his life. Mawer, an Englishman living in Italy, has written this novel as though it were a translation, endowing his prose with a patina of Old World formality that sounds all the more romantic. He claims he doesn't know Czech or German, but his characters speak both fluently, and his attention to foreign languages enriches every episode. These are, after all, people caught in the violent confluence of political upheaval; choosing to speak Czech or German or English becomes a matter of resistance or collusion or hope. And at crucial moments, certain foreign words illuminate the story in poignant ways, as when a Czech resident of the Landauers' old house realizes that "the word he used for room, pokoj, can also mean peace, tranquillity, quiet. So when he said 'the glass room' he was also saying 'the glass tranquillity.' " In chapter after chapter, era after era, the house miraculously continues, working as a talisman, "its spirit of transparency percolating the human beings who stand within it, rendering them as translucent as the glass itself." Like this gorgeous novel, that's an irresistible promise, though far more troubling than it first appears. charlesr@washpost.com
Copyright 2009, The Washington Post. All Rights Reserved.

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9781590513965: The Glass Room

Featured Edition

ISBN 10:  1590513967 ISBN 13:  9781590513965
Publisher: Other Press, 2009
Softcover

9781408700778: Glass Room

Little..., 2009
Hardcover

9780349139005: The Glass Room

Abacus, 2012
Softcover

9781408702529: The Glass Room

Piatku..., 2009
Softcover

Top Search Results from the AbeBooks Marketplace

1.

Simon Mawer
Published by Little, Brown Book Group, United Kingdom (2010)
ISBN 10: 034912132X ISBN 13: 9780349121321
New Paperback Quantity Available: 10
Seller:
The Book Depository
(London, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Little, Brown Book Group, United Kingdom, 2010. Paperback. Condition: New. Digital original. Language: English. Brand new Book. Cool. Balanced. Modern. The precisions of science, the wild variance of lust, the catharsis of confession and the fear of failure - these are things that happen in the Glass Room.High on a Czechoslovak hill, the Landauer House shines as a wonder of steel and glass and onyx built specially for newlyweds Viktor and Liesel Landauer, a Jew married to a gentile. But the radiant honesty of 1930 that the house, with its unique Glass Room, seems to engender quickly tarnishes as the storm clouds of WW2 gather, and eventually the family must flee, accompanied by Viktor's lover and her child. But the house's story is far from over, and as it passes from hand to hand, from Czech to Russian, both the best and the worst of the history of Eastern Europe becomes somehow embodied and perhaps emboldened within the beautiful and austere surfaces and planes so carefully designed, until events become full-circle. Seller Inventory # HUK9780349121321

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 9.33
Convert currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, rates & speeds

2.

Mawer, Simon
Published by Abacus (2010)
ISBN 10: 034912132X ISBN 13: 9780349121321
New Paperback Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
cbs distribution ltd
(Brecon, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Abacus, 2010. Paperback. Condition: New. Seller Inventory # CBS481780

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 6.96
Convert currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 6.38
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, rates & speeds

3.

Simon Mawer
Published by Little, Brown Book Group, United Kingdom (2010)
ISBN 10: 034912132X ISBN 13: 9780349121321
New Paperback Quantity Available: 10
Seller:
Book Depository International
(London, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Little, Brown Book Group, United Kingdom, 2010. Paperback. Condition: New. Digital original. Language: English. Brand new Book. Cool. Balanced. Modern. The precisions of science, the wild variance of lust, the catharsis of confession and the fear of failure - these are things that happen in the Glass Room.High on a Czechoslovak hill, the Landauer House shines as a wonder of steel and glass and onyx built specially for newlyweds Viktor and Liesel Landauer, a Jew married to a gentile. But the radiant honesty of 1930 that the house, with its unique Glass Room, seems to engender quickly tarnishes as the storm clouds of WW2 gather, and eventually the family must flee, accompanied by Viktor's lover and her child. But the house's story is far from over, and as it passes from hand to hand, from Czech to Russian, both the best and the worst of the history of Eastern Europe becomes somehow embodied and perhaps emboldened within the beautiful and austere surfaces and planes so carefully designed, until events become full-circle. Seller Inventory # HUK9780349121321

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 13.58
Convert currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, rates & speeds

4.

Simon Mawer
Published by Abacus (2010)
ISBN 10: 034912132X ISBN 13: 9780349121321
New Softcover Quantity Available: 2
Seller:
Rating
[?]

Book Description Abacus, 2010. Condition: New. Seller Inventory # EH9780349121321

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 11.65
Convert currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 3.16
From Germany to U.S.A.
Destination, rates & speeds

5.

Mawer, Simon
Published by Abacus
ISBN 10: 034912132X ISBN 13: 9780349121321
New Softcover Quantity Available: > 20
Seller:
Kennys Bookstore
(Olney, MD, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Abacus. Condition: New. * Inspired by a real house, an amazing modernist symbol, Simon Mawer has written his best novel yet, a story guaranteed to dazzle and intrigue the reader Num Pages: 416 pages. BIC Classification: FA. Category: (G) General (US: Trade). Dimension: 197 x 133 x 28. Weight in Grams: 326. . 2010. Paperback. . . . . Books ship from the US and Ireland. Seller Inventory # V9780349121321

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 14.86
Convert currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, rates & speeds

6.

Mawer, Simon
Published by Abacus (2010)
ISBN 10: 034912132X ISBN 13: 9780349121321
New Softcover Quantity Available: > 20
Rating
[?]

Book Description Abacus, 2010. Condition: New. * Inspired by a real house, an amazing modernist symbol, Simon Mawer has written his best novel yet, a story guaranteed to dazzle and intrigue the reader Num Pages: 416 pages. BIC Classification: FA. Category: (G) General (US: Trade). Dimension: 197 x 133 x 28. Weight in Grams: 326. . 2010. Paperback. . . . . . Seller Inventory # V9780349121321

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 15.08
Convert currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
From Ireland to U.S.A.
Destination, rates & speeds

7.

Simon Mawer
ISBN 10: 034912132X ISBN 13: 9780349121321
New Paperback Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Grand Eagle Retail
(Wilmington, DE, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description 2010. Paperback. Condition: New. Paperback. Cool. Balanced. Modern. The precisions of science, the wild variance of lust, the catharsis of confession and the fear of failure - these are things that happen in the Glass Room.High on a.Shipping may be from multiple locations in the US or from the UK, depending on stock availability. 416 pages. 0.318. Seller Inventory # 9780349121321

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 16.02
Convert currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, rates & speeds

8.

Simon Mawer
Published by Little, Brown Book Group
ISBN 10: 034912132X ISBN 13: 9780349121321
New Paperback / softback Quantity Available: > 20
Seller:
THE SAINT BOOKSTORE
(Southport, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Little, Brown Book Group. Paperback / softback. Condition: New. New copy - Usually dispatched within 2 working days. Seller Inventory # B9780349121321

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 7.24
Convert currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 8.86
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, rates & speeds

9.

Simon Mawer
Published by Abacus (2010)
ISBN 10: 034912132X ISBN 13: 9780349121321
New Paperback Quantity Available: 4
Seller:
The Monster Bookshop
(Fleckney, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Abacus, 2010. Paperback. Condition: New. BRAND NEW ** SUPER FAST SHIPPING FROM UK WAREHOUSE ** 30 DAY MONEY BACK GUARANTEE. Seller Inventory # mon0000232081

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 11.23
Convert currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 5.09
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, rates & speeds

10.

Simon Mawer
ISBN 10: 034912132X ISBN 13: 9780349121321
New Quantity Available: 3
Seller:
Speedy Hen LLC
(Sunrise, FL, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # ST034912132X. Seller Inventory # ST034912132X

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 16.63
Convert currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, rates & speeds

There are more copies of this book

View all search results for this book