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Dictionary of the Khazars, a novel by Milorad Pavic

Written by eastern writer on Monday, April 25, 2011

# Paperback: 338 pages
# Publisher: Vintage; Vintage International ed Male ed edition (October 23, 1989)
# Language: English
# ISBN: 0679724613

This book was written by a serbian professor of literature, but might have been written by a former argentinian librarian: Jorge Luis Borges. Both the authors share a love for combinatorics, puzzling coincindences, catalogues, and bizzarre stories. Their stile is rational and dramatic at the same time, like the facade of a baroque church. Also, this book was published in 1986, the year of Borges' death, and is maybe the epitaph that Borges would have liked.

This is a book about the truth. The king of a mysterious people (the Khazars) summons three sages (a christian, a muslim and a jew), because he wants to convert to the true god. Centuries later, three literati write their own accounts of that conversion (each one is different). And this century, three researcher investigate again on what happened.

Finally, there is not a single truth. The book is organized as a dictionary, or better, three dictionaries (one for each religion). Every word inspires a different story and explanation, but all are filled with magic events and mysterious characters. The reader is the ultimate investigator -- and creator -- of the Khazar empire. It's up to him to discover the truth.

A final (and personal) note. This "dictionary" may seem an extremely sophisticated literary game, similar to those of Calvino and Perec. This is is true, but there is more. When the book was out, the civil war (apparently motivated by secular religious intolerance) had not begun yet. To me, this book seems also a passionate attempt to show how difficult is to attain the truth, and an invitation to tolerance.

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  1. 2 komentar: Responses to “ Dictionary of the Khazars, a novel by Milorad Pavic ”

  2. By Joseph Smith on October 14, 2011 at 8:11 AM


    I would have that book, I've been hearing to many critics about it, and most of them are positive... so I will do my best to purchase it.

  3. By viagra online on January 10, 2012 at 9:25 AM

    very appealing to my personal literature tastes, I will definitely purchase Dictionary of the Khazars and read, I have a collection of dictionaries and this will be in my collection soon, thanks!

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    "There is only one school of literature - that of talent."
~ Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

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