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Youth Without Youth Paperback – Nov 30 2007

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 140 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press; 1 edition (Nov. 30 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226204154
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226204154
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 1.3 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 181 g
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #717,312 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


“Comparisons with Borges, Cortazar, Calvino, and others made on the dust jacket are beside the point. Eliade was always out on a limb of his own.”
(New York Times)

"Eliade is as great a spinner of tales as Borges, with roots that go deep to Hoffmann and the German romantics. He would have been recognized as the great fiction writer he is if he hadn't been such a great historian of religions. The book bespeaks good news."
(Andrei Codrescu)

About the Author

Mircea Eliade (1907–1986) was the Sewell L. Avery Distinguished Service Professor at the Divinity School and professor in the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago. He is the author of many works of scholarship and fiction, including A History of Religious Ideas and ten novels.
Mac Linscott Ricketts is professor emeritus of philosophy and religion at Louisburg College.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.9 out of 5 stars 10 reviews
25 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exquisite Philosophy of the "Butterfly Dream" Dec 9 2007
By Ballerina - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Youth Without Youth is a powerful and insightful novella written by Mircea Eliade, the Romanian philosopher and historian (1907-1986). The book which sets in the pre World War II era , tells a story of an ageing professor, Dominic Matei, coming to the end of the line, whose mysterious regeneration and rejuvenation make him a target for hunting down by the Nazis and others as well as having to confront a whole range of issues and dilemmas now that he is made young again with superhuman powers and given a second chance in life. The story moves through different countries and cultures from Romania, Switzerland, Malta to India spanning the richness of Eastern and Western cultures.

This is a thriller, love story and the "Butterfly Dream" philosophy of the Chinese philosopher, Zhuangzi(Chuang-tzu) - the dream-like nature of reality - all wrapped into one.

This thoughtful and insightful work has now been adapted for the screen in 2007 by the award-winning Francis Ford Coppola of the "Godfather" fame, his latest and most defining film in almost ten years. I have great hopes that Coppola, the dependable and talented producer/director and Tim Roth, an excellent and highly intelligent actor/director who takes his art/craft with utmost gravity (playing the leading role Dominic Matei) will do justice to this exquisite book. Whatever you do, don't miss the book and the film!
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing story! May 25 2008
By Silviu Margarit - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Eliade's story is breathtaking, with a deep hidden message, a story that works on so many levels. Read it and you shall not regret it. The movie, while good is confusing and misses the main point of the story.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Labyrinthine and Intriguing June 2 2012
By mcfin din - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a very off-beat novella written by one of our greatest experts on the topic of religion. I can't say I really enjoyed it in a literary sense, but I have to say it was provocative enough to hold my attention and consider a second reading!

This book attempts to meld eastern mysticism with western science and poses many questions which go unanswered. Yet all of the philosophical attributes are infused with early second world war history, Nazi scientists, hidden documents, intrigue with a beautiful spy for the Gestapo, miraculous recoveries and ancient languages. Reincarnation is also involved, which supplies enough romance to make the story a story rather than a vehicle for the writer's own philosophy.

The protagonist, Dominic Matei, is a former language professor who experiences what is referred to as the "rejuvenation by electricity" as a very old man and becomes young again just as he is on his way out of his home country, Romania. The reasons for his decision to leave turn out to be tragic, then fortuitous and ultimately, sensational. Years after his experience, he falls in love with a young woman who reminds him of an earlier love and who, after having been struck by lightning, is able to speak in ancient but heretofore unknown foreign tongues. This thrust into ancient times even before the Buddha, comes towards the end of the book - certainly within the last one third and well after we've seen the results of our hero's own transformation.

There is much rich philosophical material here, that I admittedly need to do some additional research as to content - first, on the philosophy of Chantrakirti, next, the Butterfly Dream as presented by Chunang Tzu and then, the philosophy of Nietzsche, whose theories apparently coincide with the ancient Chunang Tzu. The "double" is introduced in the book as well (I call it the "doppleganger"), as is reincarnation, a theory I'm extremely comfortable with. At last, I would like to read more of Mircea Eliade's own work including "The Sacred and the Profane," "Shamanism," and "The History of Religious Ideas."

So, my three and a half stars is directed towards the literary merit of the story which I found unnecessarily difficult to follow, and four stars for the challenge in the material which, I have to admit, I find irresistible in any writing.

I may change my review upon the second reading.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Youth Without Youth--an Unusual Book Oct. 28 2013
By L. G. Hancock - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I purchased the novel "Youth Without Youth" because I was already familiar with the nonfiction books by the author Mircea Eliade on the history of religions and languages. Because of the erudition of his nonfiction books, I was curious how the author would approach the writing of a novel. I was not disappointed. The plot of the novel is unusual and not one I would have thought of myself. It involves the story of an aged scholar of languages who is one day struck by lightning, which causes him to pass out for a few days, but which also causes him to awake as a young man who not only has renewed youth but who also has unheard of powers of mind, such that he is able to learn foreign languages (even ancient dead languages) by merely willing himself to know the languages. He can also learn history and the sciences in the same way. The character uses his new powers to research certain problems which have always eluded his efforts to solve--such as the origin of human languages and the relationship between the waking state and the dream state in the human mind. I got the feeling that the author wrote the story of a man who had experiences which the author himself wishes he could have--i.e., a man who had unlimited time and unlimited abilities to learn foreign languages and the sciences with hardly any effort at all. The book is very interesting and has helped me to understand the author. I would recommend this book, and all of Micea Eliade's other books, to anyone who is trying to understand the origins of human language and human religion. In my view, the reader will always learn something from Mr. Eliade's books, and will not be disappointed.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Phenomenologist's Fantasy Jan. 6 2012
By Edith Wharton II - Published on
Format: Paperback
Youth Without Youth is the wet dream of a phenomenologist. Mircea Eliade, a well-known scholar of religion, wrote this novella when he was 69. Its protagonist, Dominic Matei, is also an aging Romanian academic approaching 70, whose life's frustrated desire had been to find and describe the originating meaning of life. Although Dominic's preoccupation with this search for Truth precluded the love offered to him, his investigations were thwarted by his inability to fully control ancient languages. Finding himself in an early stage of dementia, Dominic travels to a distant town to commit suicide. There he is hit by lightning, causing a miraculous revitalization of both his body and mind. To avoid being apprehended by the Romanian Security for his purported links with the Romanian fascists or abducted by the Gestapo for scientific examination in Germany, he disguises his identity with the help of his doctor and the Rockefeller Foundation. His heightened intelligence collapses time, providing him remarkable access to the past and allowing him to see the future. It also provides him a new access to beautiful women, through whom he approaches the truth that he has long been seeking. He returns from his fantasy only to die as an old man in the snow outside his old café. The novel is creepily autobiographical. Not only is it full of only partially masked personal fixations and experiences, but also it is misogynously self-obsessed. Youth Without Youth has nothing to do with Borges, as is claimed on the dust jacket, but it does have much in common with the plots, if not the literary distinction, of Goethe's Faust and Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray. Eliade's story, in any case, is more compellingly told by Francis Ford Coppola in his 2007 film.