The Memory Chalet
ISBN 9781594202896 | 240 pages | 11 Nov 2010 | The Penguin Press | 5.51 x 8.26in | 18 - AND UP
Summary of The Memory Chalet Summary of The Memory Chalet Reviews for The Memory Chalet An Excerpt from The Memory Chalet
" It might be thought the height of poor taste to ascribe good fortune to a healthy man with a young family struck down at the age of sixty by an incurable degenerative disorder from which he must shortly die. But there is more than one sort of luck. To fall prey to a motor neuron disease is surely to have offended the Gods at some point, and there is nothing more to be said. But if you must suffer thus, better to have a well-stocked head." -Tony Judt
The Memory Chalet is a memoir unlike any you have ever read before. Each essay charts some experience or remembrance of the past through the sieve of Tony Judt's prodigious mind. His youthful love of a particular London bus route evolves into a reflection on public civility and interwar urban planning. Memories of the 1968 student riots of Paris meander through the divergent sex politics of Europe, before concluding that his generation "was a revolutionary generation, but missed the revolution." A series of road trips across America lead not just to an appreciation of American history, but to an eventual acquisition of citizenship. Foods and trains and long-lost smells all compete for Judt's attention; but for us, he has forged his reflections into an elegant arc of analysis. All as simply and beautifully arranged as a Swiss chalet-a reassuring refuge deep in the mountains of memory.
"[A] tremendously moving memorial to a first-class historian and essayist... humane, fearless, unsparingly honest."
—The Financial Times
"Each of these beautifully crafted pieces presents a self-contained vignette. Together they form a picture of an age, seen through the prism of an extraordinary mind... Judt never pretended that the illness that befell him was a hidden blessing. 'Loss is loss, and nothing is gained by calling it a nicer name.' But if tragedy cannot be redeemed it can sometimes be defied, as Judt confirms in this exquisitely graceful memoir of a happy life."
—The Daily Beast
"More than a memoir, [The Memory Chalet is] a bracing spiritual autobiography of a man whose lofty and old-fashioned goal, repeatedly realized in these pages, was to think for himself - and push each of us to do the same."
"[B]oth an autobiography and a lovely little social history of the second half of the 20th century... all in a spare and nicely demotic prose."
"Despite his stature as a 'public intellectual,' Judt's observations in this collection are more impressionistic than analytical. For the most part, he's not arguing points but simply re-savoring the things that once pleased him... This is a memorable collection from a memorable man."
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