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Am Anfang war... Die Schoepfung (English translation)
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While not by any means a masterpiece, it is a book that deserves a wider audience. The book does not attempt to tell Mesmer's life story - it is a much more elliptical study of one critical moment An intriguing historical novel that tells the story of the famous doctor Mesmer and his treatment of the young blind musician Maria Theresia von Paradis. The book does not attempt to tell Mesmer's life story - it is a much more elliptical study of one critical moment in his life, admittedly the one that led to him leaving Vienna under something of a cloud.
He used his controversial theories of animal magnetism in an attempt to cure Maria's blindness - this was a partial success but it upset her ability to play the piano, and her parents stopped the treatment, after which her blindness returned. The story is mostly true, in fact when I looked up the two main characters in Wikipedia, I was reminded that I had previously read a shorter fictional account of the same episode, namely Julian Barnes' Harmony, which appears in Pulse.
Perhaps the reason I did not recognise it immediately is that in the Barnes story, the surnames of the protagonists are masked, as M and P, as is the city of V The German original was called "Am Anfang war die Nacht Musik", which loosely translates as "In the beginning was the night music" and for me this conveys the essence of the book rather better than the simplistic Mesmerized. It is a reflection on music, psychology and the expectations of eighteenth century society at least as much as it is about Mesmer's rather dubious scientific achievements.
View all 9 comments. This is a book for lovers of writing that caresses a story into existence and mesmerizes! The writing and the story echo the the themes found within it. What a lovely tale, absent of sensationist plot, bereft of scandal and sex mostly --it simply has no use for these devices. It chooses a pace that is harmonious and relaxing, like Mesmer's glass harmonica.
The descriptions of human senses and interpersonal relationships are light as air and, at the same time, absolutely vivid. Whi This is a book for lovers of writing that caresses a story into existence and mesmerizes! While some parts of the story must be left up to interpretation, this effect is part of its charm rather than a source of frustration, as such a device can be if used poorly. There was nothing heavy-handed, long-winded, or insultingly obvious about this book.
It's clear Walser believes in the sensitivity of her readers and wants to offer an alternative to much of the writing produced today--her style coaxes the reader's imagination into life rather than beating it over the head with explicit contrivances and cliches.
Once I got past the excessive use of sentence fragments and the indistinct boundaries between dialog and narrative due, in part, to the absence of quotation marks , I thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed this book. I even began to like these devices given how well they fit within the overall rhythm and nimbleness of the writing. A lovely gentle read about Doctor Mesmer in Mozart's Vienna, and his attempt to cure a blind girl through use of magnets.
Unusual writing style which is almost poetic, strong characterisations. This book is more a painting than a traditionally-plotted story.
- Am Anfang war das Wort.
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I enjoyed it. Review originally published here.
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During that course we discussed several psychological theories on religion or religious phenomena. We discussed early developers of psychology, including Freud, and one of his predecessors: Franz Anton Mesmer. Even though I am not a particular fan of Freud, I found the introductory information about Mesmer fascinating. Here a few of my interests came together: the [Review copy from the publisher. Can you imagine my joy when I received a review copy of this historical fiction novel on this very topic?
It does so by tracing his treatment of the blind musical prodigy Maria Parradis, the daughter of the Imperial Court Official. A successful treatment may give Mesmer the chance to enter the higher circles, while it might enable Maria to become an internationally famed pianist. The interesting thing about Mesmerized is that it manages to pack so much into a relatively short novel pages. Miss Paradis had been blind from the age of four. Her parents were at first overhelmingly grateful; but later, they insisted that Mesmer cease treating her.
In effect, this is the story that Walser tells. But she does so in a way that gives us both the story from the imagined point of view of Mesmer, and Maria. Moreover, and something that I particularly appreciated, Mesmerized does not choose to favour one explanation of the events.
Neither is Maria reduced to a helpless or obstinate girl; by giving her her own voice, she tells us about her insecurities, the entrappedness she feels in the company of her parents, and her quest for safety and a life of her own, which is in part dependent on Mesmer and her parents. The prose was often effective and at times beautiful and moving.
Unfortunately, it did not always affect me as much as I had hoped, leaving me to feel a little detached at all times.
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Nevertheless, I am very happy to have read Mesmerized. A fictional interpretation of a historical episode that is fascinating in itself often makes me want to find out more. And that is exactly what this novel did.
Feb 03, Camilla P. Anche le polemiche contro le sue cure, per quanto presenti, non sono state affrontate in modo tale da rendere abbastanza importante, emotivamente parlando, il conflitto tra il protagonista e i suoi detrattori. Sono accuse che leggiamo, ma di cui non sentiamo il peso. Il centro del libro sembrerebbe essere la psiche del dottore e della giovane paziente. Anche Maria Theresia, con il terrore e il desiderio di riacquistare la vista, la paura del mondo e la sua passione per la musica, si sarebbe potuta distinguere e amare.
Credo che questa mancanza sia dovuta, in particolar modo, alla gestione piuttosto strana dei dialoghi e del punto di vista della narrazione.
I secondi sono troppo variabili e lasciano una sensazione di disorientamento. View all 4 comments. E' la visione romanzata di un uomo che ha scoperto un nuovo modo di rapportarsi con i pazienti, il mondo e la natura, curando mali in modo molto alternativo per l'epoca in cui si trova a vivere.