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Searching for an inn, the enigmatic traveler Hans stops in a small city on the border between Saxony and Prussia. The next morning, Hans meets an old organ-grinder in the market square and immediately finds himself enmeshed in an intense debate―on identity and what it is that defines us―from which he cannot break free.
Indefinitely stuck in Wandernburg until his debate with the organ-grinder is concluded, he begins to meet the various characters who populate the town, including a young freethinker named Sophie. Though she is engaged to be married, Sophie and Hans begin a relationship that defies contemporary mores about female sexuality and what can and cannot be said about it.
Traveler of the Century is a deeply intellectual novel, chock-full of discussions about philosophy, history, literature, love, and translation. It is a book that looks to the past in order to have us reconsider the conflicts of our present. The winner of Spain's prestigious Alfaguara Prize and the National Critics Prize, Traveler of the Century marks the English-language debut of Andrés Neuman, a writer described by Roberto Bolaño as being "touched by grace."
"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.
Andrés Neuman was born in 1977 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and grew up in Spain. He has a degree in Spanish philology from the University of Granada. Neuman was selected as one of Granta's Best of Young Spanish-Language Novelists and was elected to the Bogotá-39 list. Traveler of the Century was the winner of the Alfaguara Prize and the National Critics Prize, Spain's two most prestigious literary awards.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
Traveler of the Century
THE LIGHT HERE IS ANCIENTA-ARE YO-UU C-COLD? THE coachman shouted, his voice fragmented by the jolting of the coach. I-I'm f-fine, th-ank yo-uu, replied Hans, teeth chattering.The coach lamps flickered as the horses sped along the road. Mud flew up from the wheels. The axles twisted in every pothole, and seemed about to snap. Their cheeks puffing, the horses blew clouds from their nostrils. An opaque moon was rolling above the horizon.For some time now Wandernburg had been visible in the distance, to the south. And yet, thought Hans, as often happens at the end of an exhausting day, the small city seemed to be moving in step with them, and getting no nearer. The sky above the carriage was heavy. With each crack of the coachman's whip the cold grew bolder, pressing against every outline. I-s the-ere mu-mu-ch f-f-urther t-oo g-oo? asked Hans, sticking his head out of the window. He had to repeat the question twice before the coachman heard him above the din and shouted, pointing with his whip: A-as yo-uu ca-an s-eee! Hans was uncertain whether this meant they were only a few minutes away or that it was impossible to tell. Since he was the only remaining passenger and had no one to talk to, he closed his eyes.When he opened them again he saw a stone wall and an arched gateway. As they drew closer, Hans sensed something odd about the thickness of the wall, as if it were a warning about how hard it would be to leave rather than to enter. By the dim light of the coach lantern he could make out the shapes of the first buildings, the round-cut tiles like fish scales on some of the rooftops, the needle spires, the ornaments shaped like vertebrae. He had the impression he was arriving in a place that had just been evacuated, where the clatter of hooves and the wheels jolting on the cobblestones were producing too loud an echo. Everything was so still, it seemed as though someone was spying on them with bated breath. The carriage turned a corner, and the horses' gallop was suddenly muted--they were now on a beaten earth track. They went down Old Cauldron Street. Hans caught sight of an iron sign swinging in the breeze. He told the coachman to stop.The man climbed down from his perch. When he reached the ground, he looked puzzled. He took a few steps, peered down at his feet, smiled uncertainly. He patted the lead horse's neck and whispered some words of thanks in its ear. The animal replied with a snort. Hans helped him untie the ropes from the luggage rack, pull back the wet canvas, then unload his case and a big trunk with handles on it. What have you got in there, a dead body? complained the coachman, dropping the chest to the ground and rubbing his hands. Not one dead body, Hans said with a smile, several. The man laughed abruptly, although a twitch of alarm flitted across his face. Will you be spending the night here too? asked Hans. No, the coachman explained, I'm going on to Wittenberg. I know a good place to sleep there, and there's a family who have to get to Leipzig. Then, looking askance at the creaking inn sign, he added: Are you sure you wouldn't like to ride on a little farther? Thanks, replied Hans, but this is fine. I need some rest. As you wish, sir, as you wish, said the coachman, clearing his throat several times. Hans paid him, refused the coins he offered in change, and bade him farewell. Behind his back he heard the crack of a whip, the creak of wood, and the thud of hooves moving off.It was only when he was on his own outside the inn that he noticed a shooting pain in his back, sensed his muscles tremble and heard a pounding in his ears. He could still feel the jolting coach--the lights seemed to waver, the stones to be shifting. Hans rubbed his eyes. The windows of the inn were steamed up, making it impossible for him to see inside. He knocked on the door, where a Christmas wreath still hung. No one came. He tried the frozen handle, then pushed the door open. He saw a corridor lit by oil lamps suspended from hooks. The warmth drew Hans in. From the far end of the corridor came the crackle of an open fire. He struggled to drag the case and trunk inside. He stood beneath one of the lanterns, trying to warm up. With a start, he saw Herr Zeit staring at him from behind the reception desk. I was on my way to let you in, Herr Zeit said. The innkeeper moved extremely slowly, as if he were trapped between the counter and the wall. He had a huge, barrel-shaped belly, and smelt of musty fabric. Where have you come from? he asked. I've come from Berlin, said Hans, not that it really matters. It matters to me, young sir, Herr Zeit cut in, not suspecting that Hans had meant something else. How many nights do you intend to stay? Just one, I suppose, said Hans, I'm not sure yet. Well, when you've decided, please let me know, said the innkeeper, we need to be sure which rooms will be available.Herr Zeit searched for a candlestick, then led Hans down the corridor and up a flight of stairs. As Hans watched the rotund figure heaving himself up each step, he was afraid he might come crashing down on top of him. The entire inn smelt of burning oil, the sulphur from the lamp wicks, and a mixture of sweat and soap. They reached the first-floor landing and carried on up. Hans was surprised to see that all the rooms appeared unoccupied. On the second floor, Herr Zeit paused at a door with the number seven chalked on it. Recovering his breath, he declared proudly: This is our best room. He took a battered ring laden with keys out of his pocket, and after several attempts and muttered curses, they entered the room.Candlestick in hand, Herr Zeit ploughed his way through the darkness over to the window. When he opened the shutters, there was the sound of creaking wood and a cloud of dust flew up. Rather than illuminating the room, the feeble light from outside seemed to seep into the darkness like a gas. It gets quite sunny in the mornings, Herr Zeit explained, because it faces east. Hans screwed up his eyes to examine the room. He could make out a table and two chairs. A camp bed with a pile of folded woollen blankets on it. A zinc bathtub, a rusty chamber pot, a washbasin on a stand, a water jug. A brick-and-stone chimney piece with a ledge that seemed too narrow to accommodate any objects (Only rooms three and seven have a hearth, Herr Zeit announced) and beside it were several tools: a small shovel, a poker, a pair of blackened tongs, an almost bald brush. In the fireplace lay two charred logs. On the wall opposite the door, between table and tub, Hans's attention was drawn to a small painting that looked to him like a watercolour, although he could not see it properly. One more thing, Herr Zeit concluded solemnly, taking the lamp over to the table and sliding his hand along the surface. It's pure oak. Hans stroked the table contentedly. He glanced at the candlesticks with their tallow candles, and at the rusty oil lamp. I'll take it, he said. He was immediately aware of Herr Zeit helping him out of his frock coat and hanging it on one of the nails in the wall beside the door--the coat stand.Wife! the innkeeper bellowed, as if he had just woken up. Wife, come up here! We have a guest! Instantly there was a sound of footsteps on the stairs. A broad-beamed woman appeared in the doorway, wearing skirts and an apron with a huge pouch over her bosom. Unlike her husband, Frau Zeit moved swiftly and efficiently. In a trice she had changed the bed sheets for a slightly less yellowing set, given the room a cursory sweep, and vanished downstairs again to fill the water jug. When she reappeared with it, Hans drank greedily, almost without pausing for breath. Will you bring his luggage up? Herr Zeit asked. His wife sighed. Her husband decided the sigh meant she would, and so, after nodding to Hans, he in turn disappeared down the stairs.Lying on his back on the bed, Hans could feel with his toes how rough the sheets were. Closing his eyes, he thought he could hear scratching sounds from beneath the floorboards. He drifted off to sleep, letting all his cares slide away, and said to himself: Tomorrow I'll gather my things and move elsewhere. If he had examined the ceiling closely with a candle, he would have seen the huge cobwebs between the beams. Hidden among them, a spider watched over Hans's sleep, thread by thread.
He woke up late, his stomach empty. A warm sun was dancing over the table, flowing down the chairs like syrup. Hans washed in the handbasin, opened his case, and dressed. Then he went over to the small painting and confirmed that it was indeed a watercolour. The frame seemed to him rather too ornate. When he took it down to examine it more closely, he discovered a tiny mirror on the back. He hung it up again, this time with the mirror facing towards him. He filled the basin with the water left in the jug, broke off a piece of soap, rummaged for his shaving brush, his razor and his colognes. He whistled while he shaved, unaware of what it was he was whistling.On his way downstairs he ran into Herr Zeit, who was climbing the steps laboriously one by one. He was carrying a small notebook, and asked Hans to pay for the night's lodging before breakfast. It's a house rule, he said. Hans went back into his room and came out with the exact sum, plus a one-groschen tip, which he gave to the innkeeper with a wry smile. Down on the ground floor Hans had a look around. At the far end of the corridor he could see a large dining room with a blazing hearth and a big cooking pot over the fire. Opposite it was a sofa, which, as Hans quickly discovered, sank in the middle as soon as you sat on it. On the other side of the corridor was a door, which he imagined must lead to the Zeits' apartment. Next to the door stood a Christmas tree that was so exquisitely decorated he could scarcely believe either of them could have been responsible for it. Out the back of the inn he discovered a courtyard with latrines and a well. He made use of one of the latrines, an...
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Book Description Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, 2012. Hardcover. Condition: New. 1st ed. 8vo, bds, dj, 564 p. Searching for an inn, the enigmatic traveler Hans stops in a small city on the border between Saxony and Prussia. The next morning, Hans meets an old organ-grinder in the market square and immediately finds himself enmeshed in an intense debateÂ-on identity and what it is that defines usÂ-from which he cannot break free.Indefinitely stuck in Wandernburg until his debate with the organ-grinder is concluded, he begins to meet the various characters who populate the town, including a young freethinker named Sophie. Though she is engaged to be married, Sophie and Hans begin a relationship that defies contemporary mores about female sexuality and what can and cannot be said about it.Traveler of the Century is a deeply intellectual novel, chock-full of discussions about philosophy, history, literature, love, and translation. It is a book that looks to the past in order to have us reconsider the conflicts of our present. The winner of Spain's prestigious Alfaguara Prize and the National Critics Prize, Traveler of the Century marks the English-language debut of Andrés Neuman, a writer described by Roberto Bolaño as being "touched by grace.". Seller Inventory # 154828
Book Description Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Hardcover. Condition: New. 0374119392 New Condition. Seller Inventory # NEW7.0112933
Book Description Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012. Hardcover. Condition: New. Never used!. Seller Inventory # P110374119392
Book Description Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M0374119392