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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction



Youth without Youth

by
Mircea Eliade


general information | review summaries | our review | links | about the author

To purchase Youth without Youth



Title: Youth without Youth
Author: Mircea Eliade
Genre: Novel
Written: 1979 (Eng. 1988)
Length: 140 pages
Original in: Romanian
Availability: Youth without Youth - US
Youth without Youth - UK
Youth without Youth - Canada
Jugend ohne Jugend - Deutschland
  • Romanian title: Tinereţe fără tinereţe
  • Translated by Mac Linscott Ricketts
  • With a Foreword by Francis Ford Coppola
  • Youth without Youth was made into a film in 2007 by Francis Ford Coppola, starring Tim Roth and Bruno Ganz

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Our Assessment:

C : odd little fantasy

See our review for fuller assessment.




Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
The NY Times Book Rev. . 5/3/1989 Robert Irwin
TLS . 28/9/1990 George Steiner


  From the Reviews:
  • "These stories are didactic fictions that parallel and comment on Eliade's researches into religion and mythology. But perhaps the point about his fictions is that they are fictions; they have little connection with the way the world really works." - Robert Irwin, The New York Times Book Review

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       Youth without Youth has an interesting premise. An old man, Dominic Matei, gets struck by lightning and appears gravely and hopelessly injured, but recovers -- and recovers in extraordinary fashion. The doctors who look after him are intrigued. First they note:

No longer is it a case of a 'living dead man,' but of something else entirely. What, exactly, we still don't know.
       Eventually, it becomes clear that Matei proves the theory of a Nazi scientist, the "enigmatic and ambiguous personage" Dr. Rudolf, an intimate of Goebbels, who believes:
the electrocution by a current of at least a million volts could produce a radical mutation of the human species. Not only would the person submitted to such an electric discharge not be killed, but he would be completely regenerated.
       Indeed, Matei has literally been rejuvenated: he's a young man once again -- and on top of that, this shock has: "amplified fabulously all his mental faculties", making for a scholarly fantasy of being able to remember everything he read and learnt.
     In short, I'm a "mutant," he said to himself upon awakening. I anticipate the post-historic existence of man. Like in a science-fiction novel, he added, smiling with amusement.
       But Eliade is no science fiction writer, and though he does a decent job with the slow realisation of what happened to Matei most of the science-fiction is rough going; so is the rest of the novel.
       The case can't be entirely hidden from the outside world, and from the Romanian security services to Dr.Rudolf and the Nazi leadership, there's a lot of interest in this unusual occurrence. Matei has his protectors, but there are many who are very interested in whether he really is living proof that this crazy rejuvenation-process-theory works.
       There's a woman. The years fly by. Elaide means to dig deep and wide; as one of the characters says:
The cowardice of contemporary thought exasperates me. I'd rather have a beer.
       Eliade surely means to shake up 'contemporary thought', too, but his reader likely will also prefer (or resort to) the beer. Too muddled, the writing workmanlike but not very good -- the typical fiction of someone with 'something to say' rather than a story to tell --, Youth without Youth is of some interest, but not a very good read.

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Links:

Youth without Youth: Reviews: Youth without Youth - the film: Mircea Eliade: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Romanian author Mircea Eliade (1907-1986) taught at the University of Chicago.

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© 2008 the complete review

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