Tag Archives: Lisbon

Night train to Lisbon – Pascal Mercier

imageThis is a translated book, as it was originally written in German, being the author from Switzerland.

It tells about a middle-aged divorced professor of ancient languages who suddenly abandomns his city, his students and his life and goes to Lisbon, searching for Amadeu De Prado, the author of a book who is haunting him because he feels a strong connections with the writer.

The journey is a self-discovery and talking with the people who knew De Prado when he was alive, the professor Gregorius find out a lot about humanity and Portugal history (a Nation of wich he did not care a lot before). Of course he meet difficulties, above all with Language, that he must learn, and then with people, who Always are rather hazy and who often stop in the middle of their speeches (and I did not like this aspect: people do not act like this in the real world).

Smart is the tactic of let the main carachter change his glasses because he broke the old ones: with the new ones he start seeing the world in a total different manner and he wonders if this change did not affect also his way of thinking. Or, rather, he did not wonders, but we do! We are often so used to see and think in a certain way, that we absolutely do not notice how parochial we are. But this is just the fag sight of a fag being, as we are…

Aside the carachters that were rather slow in giving the information about De Prado, I think that the novel is slow in general: a lot of walking, a lot of watching, a lot of silences… it does not give the idea of Portugal like a living place. While reading I saw mumbling people walking down the Street, whimsical spinsters, restive talkers…

But I had to go to Lisbon for holidays and I needed something in English to exercise my Language skills, and I found this book that seemed to cluster both positive points.

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Hearts Come Home – Pearl S. Buck


I bought this book in Lisbon, in a second-hand book-store down Baixa Chaido (wonderful store, despite the majority of titles were in Portogues). This 1970 version has a stamp on the second page: British Embassy. I love second-hand books!


I was used to read Buck’s work when placed in China, but this short stories collection was a surprise to me. Actually, it doesn’t include only stories from far East, but also from author’s Birth nation, the United States. And she deepens above all the relationships between men and women, between lovers, between husbands and wives.

When stories take place in China, the most appealing feature is the transformation, the passage from the Past to the Future, with all consequences on people who do not manage to keep the pace.

I noticed that Buck often uses the same names for her carachters and I wonder if they are the same carachters in different stories or if she only meant to indicate general names, so to match them to very ordinary people.

For sure, two stories relate to the same environment and carachter: Ted and Etsu, an American soldier and the home girl in Japan. I liked them very much, because they show very clearly how understanding was difficult after Japanese defeat and during American occupation. It also shows how Japanese people acted in front of the enemy: without fighting, but trying to understand. Beside this, japanese also tryed to be respectful – and to obey their emperor, who told them to do what the former enemy would ask.

I have another Buck’s novel on my shelf, but it is about India… we’ll see if I will like it like the other ones.

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