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Distributed for Seagull Books

Silent Conversations

A Reader’s Life

For Anthony Rudolf, reading is a profoundly serious and intense activity, as well as a major source of pleasure and solace. At the same time, it is always interrupted by day jobs, friendships, politics and, paradoxically, by the act of writing. All of this comes together in Silent Conversations: A Reader’s Life, a canny and insightful memoir of Rudolf’s life in books.
A quest for hope in dark times, Silent Conversations captures Rudolf’s inimitable style and his own admitted tendency to digress—with invariably fascinating and revealing results. Among the threads that crisscross all the sections are fragmentary dialogues with a number of interlocutors—including Paula Rego and Yves Bonnefoy, whom Rudolf has been translating for nearly fifty years—that explore the essentials of the life of a thoughtful and committed individual in a troubled and frightening world. At once old fashioned and completely contemporary, Rudolf seeks in this work to share his reflections with others through story and image.In this network of voices, a labyrinth of collage and quotation come to life, doing the work of analysis and critique (of self and others), and following threads of interest through and across its pages. With a deft lyricism, a light touch, and a sharp wit, Rudolf provides a detailed account of his passions and obsessions: memory and mortality, painting and music, the fate of the earth, and many other things that touch on his life as a reader and as a writer.
Silent Conversations is characterized by Rudolf’s witty and tender approach to life and literature. Notwithstanding his lifelong need for mentors, including Octavio Paz, George Oppen and Primo Levi, Rudolf is very much his own man.

748 pages | 6 x 9 | © 2013

Biography and Letters

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"Anthony Rudolf is an intense reader and writer: his opinions are dogmatically personal and revealing and reflect the extensiveness of his library."

World Literature Today

"As well as being a significant addition to the study of literature, Silent Conversations offers a vivid glimpse of a variety of literary and artistic connections and an insight into the London-based Jewish sensibility of the post-Holocaust era."

Jewish Quarterly

Silent Conversations should not be read ‘at one sitting’ but returned to and weighted over time. Even its sections tagged by  names too obscure to recall hold provocative insights.”

Jewish Chronicle

Rudolf knows how to build with subtlety and complexity upon the rhythms of conversational speech.

Andrew S. Taylor | American Book Review

Silent Conversations seemingly lists all the books Rudolf has ever taken to bed (and even some he has not). Rarely has the ruinous eroticism of reading been evoked with such devotion. . . . Fascinating microhistories. . . . He regales us with vital episodes from his life as a translator from the French. . . . For anyone seeking to gain an appreciation of cultural relations in late twentieth-century London and Paris, his modular memoir will be the admission ticket.”

Times Literary Supplement

“Compulsively readable, erudite and alive, Rudolf’s prose here displays the virtues that have impressed this particular reader on previous occasions, albeit in much smaller and more focused books. . . . Rudolf’s voice lends this book a surprising coherence so that, whether he is discussing a poet, novelist, cartoonist, scientist, philosopher, architect, painter, or playwright, his voice and intellect remain wonderfully concentrated. . . . Rudolf has spent a life gathering ideas and images from his reading like pebbles from a beach. Silent Conversations: A Reader’s Life contains many of these resplendent stones, each of them held up to the light of perception, each carefully and perceptively illuminated.”

Eric Hoffman | Jacket2

Table of Contents


Preliminary Note



France and French Literature


      Twentieth-Century French Prose

      French Poetry

      A Visit to Paris

Jewish Worlds


      Writings of the Disaster



      Religion and Theology

      Folklore and Humour





      Introduction (1)

      Introduction (2)

      Introduction (3)

      British Poets: Inscriptions and Other Memories

      American Poets


      Small Presses

      Ireland and Scotland

      Poetry Translation

Russian Literature


      Nineteenth-Century Classics

      Twentieth-Century Writing

(Auto)biographies, Letters, Journals and Memoirs

      Introductory Note






Literary Criticism, Reading and Translation, Essays, Etc.

      Introductory Note

      Literary Criticism

      Reading and Translation

      Essays, etc.



      Writers I Have Neglected

      Shorter Fiction


      Europeans (Extending to Persia)

      Europe: British Writers


      Fiction I Don’t Read

School Books, Reference Books, Proof Copies and Such

      Introductory Note

      Children’s Books

       ‘A’-Level Set Texts and Other School Books


      Reference Books

      Proof Copies, Review Copies and Rare Books

Painting and Other Arts

      Introductory Note

      Painters, Their Work and Their Writers





      Travel Books


      Science and Medicine



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