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For Isabel: A Mandala
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Steerforth Press 2017
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Description
Winner of the 2018 Italian Prose in Translation Award
A metaphysical detective story about love and existence from the Italian master, Antonio Tabucchi. When Tadeus sets out to find Isabel, his former love, he soon finds himself on a metaphysical journey across the world, one that calls into question the meaning of time and existence and the power of words.
Isabel disappeared many years ago. Tadeus Slowacki, a Polish writer, her former friend and lover, has come back to Lisbon to learn of her whereabouts. Rumors abound: Isabel died in prison under Salazar's regime, or perhaps wasn't arrested at all. As Tadeus interviews one old acquaintance of hers after the next, a chameleon-like portrait of a young, ideological woman emerges, ultimately bringing Tadeus on a metaphysical journey across the continent. Constructed in the form of a mandala, For Isabel is the spiraling search for an enigma, an investigation into time and existence, the power of words, and the limits of the senses. In this posthumous work Tabucchi creates an ingenious narration, tracing circles around a lost woman and the ultimate inaccessible truth.
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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
09/05/2017
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780914671817
ASIN:
B01N6FRXOX
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Citations
APA Citation (style guide)

Antonio Tabucchi. (2017). For Isabel: A Mandala. Steerforth Press.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Antonio Tabucchi. 2017. For Isabel: A Mandala. Steerforth Press.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Antonio Tabucchi, For Isabel: A Mandala. Steerforth Press, 2017.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Antonio Tabucchi. For Isabel: A Mandala. Steerforth Press, 2017.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2022. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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Date Added:
Jun 12, 2018 17:00:59
Date Updated:
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      • role: Author
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      • bioText: Antonio Tabucchi was born in Pisa in 1943 and died in Lisbon in 2012. A master of short fiction, he won the Prix Médicis Étranger for Indian Nocturne, the Italian PEN Prize for Requiem: A Hallucination, the Aristeion European Literature Prize for Pereira Declares, and was named a Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres by the French Government. Together with his wife, Maria José de Lancastre, Tabucchi translated much of the work of Fernando Pessoa into Italian. Tabucchi's works include The Flying Creatures of Fra Angelico, The Woman of Porto Pim, Time Ages in a Hurry, and Tristano Dies (all from Archipelago).
        Elizabeth Harris’s translations from Italian include Mario Rigoni Stern's novel Giacomo's Seasons (Autumn Hill Books), Giulio Mozzi's story collection This Is the Garden (Open Letter Books), and Antonio Tabucchi's novel Tristano Dies (Archipelago Books). Her awards include a 2013 PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grant and the 2016 National Translation Award for Prose, both for Tabucchi’s Tristano Dies. A professor of creative writing for many years, Harris now translates full-time. She lives with her family in a small town in Wisconsin, along the Mississippi.
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publishDate
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title
For Isabel
fullDescription
Winner of the 2018 Italian Prose in Translation Award
A metaphysical detective story about love and existence from the Italian master, Antonio Tabucchi. When Tadeus sets out to find Isabel, his former love, he soon finds himself on a metaphysical journey across the world, one that calls into question the meaning of time and existence and the power of words.
Isabel disappeared many years ago. Tadeus Slowacki, a Polish writer, her former friend and lover, has come back to Lisbon to learn of her whereabouts. Rumors abound: Isabel died in prison under Salazar's regime, or perhaps wasn't arrested at all. As Tadeus interviews one old acquaintance of hers after the next, a chameleon-like portrait of a young, ideological woman emerges, ultimately bringing Tadeus on a metaphysical journey across the continent. Constructed in the form of a mandala, For Isabel is the spiraling search for an enigma, an investigation into time and existence, the power of words, and the limits of the senses. In this posthumous work Tabucchi creates an ingenious narration, tracing circles around a lost woman and the ultimate inaccessible truth.
reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: Times Literary Supplement
      • content: "For Isabel is not just a satisfactory rounding-off of Tabucchi's career, but a fantastic coda to it. . . To find one's way through For Isabel is certainly not easy, but it is rewarding, and its joyful confusion always rests firmly on the edge of genius, ready to be found."
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        Starred review from July 31, 2017
        Private obsessions; personal regrets eroded but not transformed by time, like pebbles smoothed down by the current of the river; incongruous fantasies and the inadequacy of reality.” These are the stated inspiration behind Tabucchi’s novel, which takes the form of a journey whose structure resembles that of Dante’s Hell: a man claiming to be a journalist named Tadeus is searching in Lisbon for an old classmate named Isabel, who became involved with the Communists and disappeared during Portugal’s authoritarian regime. What follows is a Rashomon-like series of interviews with Isabel’s friends and coconspirators, who recall her as passionate and doomed to suicide: there’s her doting nanny Beatriz Teixeira, the sultry guitarist Tecs, an old Creole calling himself Uncle Tom, and photographer Tiago, who may have helped Isabel escape prison shortly before her death. Or is Isabel really dead? As Tadeus ventures into the final circles of the mystery, his subjects become even more mercurial: a cave-dwelling mystic, a poet known as The Ghost Who Walks, a holy man from India living in the Swiss Alps, and finally, in the ninth circle, a mad violinist who might be the devil himself. The fractured narrative that emerges from the testimony of these eyewitnesses makes the novel more than the story of a missing girl; it is history recalled as though in a dream, hovering briefly, through the combination of Tabucchi’s elegiac prose and Harris’s lucid translation, over life and death.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        July 1, 2017
        One man's search for a missing woman grows less factual and more metaphysical.This slim novel by the Italian novelist Tabucchi (1943-2012; Tristano Dies, 2015, etc.), first published a year after his death, is subtitled "A Mandala," which suggests its structure: one man is journeying through concentric circles of evidence to uncover deeper ideas about truth. At the outset (or, rather, outer circles), it's a straightforward detective story: a man, Tadeus, is searching for Isabel, an activist who was apprehended and beaten by police for protesting Portugal's authoritarian regime. Tadeus' interest in her is initially unclear, and his provenance is unusual (he claims to hail from the star Sirius), but no matter: the story is mainly narrated by others who knew her, from a college friend to her nanny to a musician friend to members of a loose resistance group called The Organization that sheltered her after her escape from jail. Asked why he's performing this search, Tadeus responds, "to reach consciousness," and in its latter pages the novella echoes that more ascetic motivation, untethering itself from matters of politics and relationships to dwell on ghosts, spirits, and the urge to be one with the universe. ("The important thing is to search, and not if you find something or you don't," one interlocutor tells Tadeus.) In that regard, the book is something of an inheritor to the works of Hermann Hesse (who's referenced in the novel), another Western author who was interested in Eastern spiritual practices. The book's brevity means Tabucchi can do little more than sketch out these themes, but there's a satisfying richness to the whole, and translator Harris gracefully navigates the narrator's tonal shift from gumshoe to spiritual seeker, making the story lyrical and surprising while avoiding airiness. An unusually structured but engaging jaunt into the ineffable.

        COPYRIGHT(2017) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        September 1, 2017

        In this posthumous work, award-winning Italian writer Tabucchi (Tristano Dies) really does construct a mandala for Isabel, who dominates the narrative through her absence. Deceased Polish writer Tadeus Slowacki has come to Lisbon, Portugal, from the Dog Star to discover how Isabel died--reputedly in prison 30 years ago during Salazar's regime, but the facts are hazy. Called circles, the chapters wind tighter and tighter in mandala-like fashion as Tadeus's hunt reaches resolution. Tadeus interviews people who knew Isabel, from a school friend and a priest to her nanny, a musician friend, her guard in prison, the former head of the underground Communist organization to which she belonged, and even an animist poet who communicates with the dead. Each story leads to the next, and readers will be caught up in the narrative's urgency as Tadeus moves toward solving the mystery of the illusive Isabel. VERDICT Tabucchi's language is spare and lyrical, his narrative lush in history and character, and the novel ends on a quietly peaceful note that seems a fitting farewell to the author himself. For literary readers who like a mystical touch.

        Copyright 2017 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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shortDescription
Winner of the 2018 Italian Prose in Translation Award
A metaphysical detective story about love and existence from the Italian master, Antonio Tabucchi. When Tadeus sets out to find Isabel, his former love, he soon finds himself on a metaphysical journey across the world, one that calls into question the meaning of time and existence and the power of words.
Isabel disappeared many years ago. Tadeus Slowacki, a Polish writer, her former friend and lover, has come back to Lisbon to learn of her whereabouts. Rumors abound: Isabel died in prison under Salazar's regime, or perhaps wasn't arrested at all. As Tadeus interviews one old acquaintance of hers after the next, a chameleon-like portrait of a young, ideological woman emerges, ultimately bringing Tadeus on a metaphysical journey across the continent. Constructed in the form of a mandala, For Isabel is the spiraling search for an enigma, an investigation into time and existence, the power of words, and the...
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