The Memory Chalet

Tony Judt

The Memory Chalet

Each essay in The Memory Chalet charts some experience or remembrance of the past through the sieve of the late Tony Judt’s prodigious mind. His youthful love of a particular London bus route evolves into a reflection on public civility and interwar urban planning. Memories of the 1968 student riots of Paris meander through the divergent sex politics of Europe, before concluding that his generation ‘was a revolutionary generation, but missed the revolution’. A series of roadtrips across America lead not just to an appreciation of American history, but to an eventual acquisition of citizenship. 4.7 out of 5 based on 7 reviews
The Memory Chalet

Omniscore:

Classification Non-fiction
Genre Biography
Format Hardback
Pages 240
RRP £16.99
Date of Publication November 2010
ISBN 978-0434020966
Publisher William Heinemann
 

Each essay in The Memory Chalet charts some experience or remembrance of the past through the sieve of the late Tony Judt’s prodigious mind. His youthful love of a particular London bus route evolves into a reflection on public civility and interwar urban planning. Memories of the 1968 student riots of Paris meander through the divergent sex politics of Europe, before concluding that his generation ‘was a revolutionary generation, but missed the revolution’. A series of roadtrips across America lead not just to an appreciation of American history, but to an eventual acquisition of citizenship.

Reviews

The Evening Standard

Andrew Neather

Judt hopes that in sharing his imaginary chalet, the "storage cupboard" of his memories, "I have put it to some use." In this memoir — luminous, witty, moving, never less than unflinchingly honest — he has done so much more than that.

04/11/2010

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The Financial Times

Dominic Sandbrook

...this book is quintessential Judt: humane, fearless, unsparingly honest. In essay after essay the same qualities shine forth, all the more remarkable given the tragic circumstances.

15/11/2010

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The Observer

Peter Preston

It is a compelling performance, a slim volume that oscillates constantly between brilliance and exasperation and love. He has the eye for detail of a historian, and the empathy of a human being.

21/11/2010

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The Sunday Times

Nick Rennison

The pieces in The Memory Chalet...deftly combine the memories of an autobiographer with the kind of social analysis that Judt the historian cannot resist. He writes of a Putney in the 1950s that still had something of the Victorian and Edwardian eras about it and brings to life characters such as the ancient sweet-shop owner who had been “serving grubby little boys like you since the old Queen’s jubilee”, but his recollections also lead seamlessly into thoughts of the changes that the past 50 years have brought to the British high street and what they signify.

14/11/2010

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The Times Higher Education

Roger Morgan

Readers of this moving book will find here the same qualities that distinguish Judt's academic writings: a boundless curiosity, a vivid imagination, and a refreshing readiness to criticise some of his own earlier misjudgements and even to try to atone for them.

25/11/2010

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The New Statesman

Jonathan Derbyshire

...this is a book about loss, but it is not simply about what Judt lost when ALS took hold of him, and it would be unduly reductive to read it that way. It is clear that he intends these vignettes of his 1950s lower-middle-class childhood in south London, his early 1960s adolescence and eventual ascent from a direct-grant school in Battersea to King's College, Cambridge as, to use his own phrase, "illustrative examples". They are meant to illustrate, I think, what Judt, in Ill Fares the Land, calls the "world we have lost" - the world of postwar social democracy, with its "crescendo of [public] expenditure and welfare provision".

18/11/2010

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The Daily Express

Christopher Bray

Anyone who wants to begin learning about what is going on in the Middle East or why Marxism failed could do a lot worse than start here. Yet there is a lot more to The Memory Chalet than the political history that made Judt’s name. His recollection of riding on London’s Green Line buses in the late Fifties, for instance, is as concretely evocative as Proust.

29/10/2010

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