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Antonio Tabucchi

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To purchase Requiem

Title: Requiem
Author: Antonio Tabucchi
Genre: Novel
Written: 1990 (Eng. 1994)
Length: 111 pages
Original in: Portuguese
Availability: Requiem - US
Requiem - UK
Requiem - Canada
Requiem - France
Lissabonner Requiem - Deutschland
Requiem - Italia
  • A Hallucination
  • Translated by Margaret Jull Costa
  • Portuguese title: Requiem, uma alucinação
  • Made into a film, Requiem, in 1998. Directed by the great Alain Tanner

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Our Assessment:

B+ : entrancing vision of Lisbon and Pessoa

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
The Nation A 6/6/1994 Ronal De Feo
Rev. of Contemp. Fiction . Fall/1994 Jack Byrne
Studies in Short Fict. A Fall/1994 Irving Malin
TLS . 10/6/1994 Jonathan Keates
TLS . 7/1/2022 Chiara Marchelli
World Lit. Today . Fall/1993 Charles Klopp

  From the Reviews:
  • "It contains all of the author's obsessions and virtues, is beautifully translated and is perhaps his most accessible work to date (though, admittedly, some familiarity with Pessoa is assumed)." - Ronald De Feo, The Nation

  • "In the narrator's conversations and in his memories of the past, there is created a personal requiem for the old Lisbon, Tabucchi's Lisbon, not the traditional, solemn celebration of the mass for the dead, with its organ music and cathedrals, but the street music of mouth-organs and barrel-organs." - Jack Byrne, Review of Contemporary Fiction

  • "(T)his hallucinatory novella turns on the question of identity. Lisbon seems unnaturally hot; Pessoa seems uncanny; the narrator voices ambiguous feelings. And if we add the curious imagery of the Trinity, we have a strange, perverse narrative -- one of misunderstandings, impossibilities, misreadings." - Irving Malin, Studies in Short Fiction

  • "Tabucchi possessed the rare ability to create a world in a few words: his language is exact and evocative. His descriptions of food, drinks, landscapes and his characters’ psychology are vividly sensual. (...) Requiem is an elegy of multiple meanings: an oration to people, art and ideas valued during a lifetime, a celebration of life’s minutiae (colours, smells, flavours), and a tribute to Portugal." - Chiara Marchelli, Times Literary Supplement

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:

       Requiem is Tabucchi's homage to the Portugal -- and especially Lisbon -- that he loves, and the author that influenced him so deeply, Fernando Pessoa. Here the Italian author chose even to write in Portuguese, a rare instance of an author writing in a language other than his own.
       The nameless narrator finds himself in an empty Lisbon park on a sweltering summer day, waiting to meet someone. It is noon, but the meeting was set for twelve -- possibly, probably midnight. The narrator sets off to while away the day until then.
       The narrator meets a number of people a long the way -- from a taxi driver newly arrived in Portugal to an old madame, barkeepers and junkies, an accordionist, a lighthousekeeper's wife, a seller of stories. Most -- but not all -- of the figures are nameless, the anonymous population that makes up a city's character.
       The narrator travels through Lisbon, visiting places, eating, drinking. He wonders about the people he meets, and especially about Pessoa, the great Portuguese poet who wrote under a variety of names, layers of identity, -- the shade he is supposed to meet.
       Tabucchi has written a strong, atmospheric piece here. The oppressive heat is felt clearly throughout, affecting narrator and reader alike. The characters are fondly described, memories and small homages to the individuals and types that make up the Lisbon that Tabucchi feels so deeply for.
       Tabucchi balances the dreamy, hallucinatory feel of the novel well with his realistic descriptions. This is not wild fantasy; it is well-grounded. And the great Pessoa's presence provides an interesting, uncertain background to it.
       Perhaps not to everyone's taste, Requiem is a nice homage to the white city. Recommended.

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Requiem: Reviews: Requiem - the movie: Antonio Tabucchi: Other books by Antonio Tabucchi under review: Other books of interest under review:
  • See Index of Italian literature at the complete review

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About the Author:

       Italian author Antonio Tabucchi lived 1943 to 2012.

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