Melisande! What Are Dreams? by Hillel HalkinMelisande! What Are Dreams? by Hillel Halkin

Melisande! What Are Dreams?

byHillel Halkin

Paperback | April 4, 2013

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An inspiring novel; a philosophical love story; a moving ode to a woman, as joyful and celebratory as it is elegiac. The narrator is a man in his forties, a scholar of ancient Greek philosophy known as Hoo. He has been given the nickname by Mellie, the woman he addresses in this book while exploring his memories of their years together and apart. The two of them have known each other since high school in New York in the 1950s - and perhaps, Hoo thinks, much longer than that. Only as the novel unfolds do his reasons for writing to her, and the full nature of their relationship, become clear.
HILLEL HALKIN is a writer, critic, and translator whose essays have regularly appeared in publications like Commentary and The New Republic for over thirty years. His non-fiction books include Letters To An American Jewish Friend, Across The Sabbath River and, most recently, a biography of the medieval poet Yehuda Halevi. Born in New Y...
Title:Melisande! What Are Dreams?Format:PaperbackDimensions:224 pages, 7.84 × 5.31 × 0.56 inPublished:April 4, 2013Publisher:Granta PublicationsLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1847085008

ISBN - 13:9781847085009


Read from the Book

When he spotted me at a café table in Madrid airport, I hadn’t seen Jerome Spector since our high school graduation. He was on his way to Singapore in a three-piece suit and gold-rimmed glasses, and he was the same cheerful bore I remembered him as. I was sorry he had recognized me. I was waiting for an evening flight to Málaga while working on a talk I had to give at a conference there the next morning; unless I finished it now, I’d have to get up early to do it in my hotel room. But Spector had time before his flight, too, and he wanted me to know how well life had treated him since graduation day. A senior partner in a New York law firm specializing in corporate acquisitions, he was traveling to negotiate the purchase of a Singaporean heavy-lift shipping company by a U.S.–Spanish consortium. By the time we parted, I knew a lot about heavy-lift ships; also, about Spector’s law career, two marriages, several children, and opinions on the U.S. trade deficit. In return, I explained that my talk had to do with a book, The Incoherence of The Philosophers, written by an eleventh-century Muslim thinker named Abu Hamid al-Ghazali. “Do you read Arabic?” Spector asked. “No,” I said. “It’s been translated. I’m in ancient Greek and early medieval philosophy.” “I always thought you’d be a writer. Didn’t you edit the literary magazine in our senior year?” “Yes.” “With Ricky Silverman and Mellie Milgram, wasn’t it?” “Yes. The three of us.” “I forget what it was called.”Helicon.” “Right. Helicon. Not that I ever knew what that meant.” “It was said to be the mount of the muses.” “I thought that was Parnassus. I suppose you heard about Ricky.” “Yes.” “Dave Dorenson told me years ago. We’re still in touch. I always wondered what happened to Mellie. Melisande: that was her real name.” “Was it?” “She once told me. Did you know that Fred Abrams was elected to the Senate from New Jersey? And we laughed when he ran for school president.” In the end, his flight was called. Why is it that the passengers lined up at a departure gate make me think of the dead waiting to be ferried across the Styx, a boarding pass in their hands instead of a coin beneath their tongues for Charon the boatman?

Editorial Reviews

An outstanding novel... a meditation about the nature of love and the power of old wishes and dreams... wry, intelligent and elegiac - The Times Lovely, erudite, romantic and careful. The vagabond, the scholar and the woman are echoing and reflecting in my mind still, poetic, subtle and passionate about the things that have always mattered. This is a long drink of cool water to anyone who likes an intelligent novel -  Louisa Young, author, My Dear I Wanted To Tell You Pitch perfect - filled with quiet wisdom, and laced with nostalgia yet never cloying - ***** Financial Times To be transported to New York of the 1950s; to be absorbed in an elegy of beautiful prose; to unearth a startlingly fresh novel from a colossus of Hebrew literature; and, most of all, to gain a sharp insight into humanity itself; read this book -  Jake Wallis Simons Gentle and satisfying... Halkin has a tender eye for the bittersweet journey of love: shared joys and tiny betrayals, mistakes and triumphs, and, finally, the healing power of forgiveness. - ***** Independent A sparse, multinuanced, erudite and exceptionally accomplished offering, which makes one regret that Halkin delayed writing novels until now.The plot is enhanced throughout by the refined psychological and philosophical reflections... A veritable treat for readers. - *****Jewish Chronicle Melisande! What Are Dreams? is written as an extended love letter that recounts the way fate and circumstance conspire alternately to separate and unite the narrator and his beloved ... The rhythm of the couple's life together is movingly evoked -  TLS Unique and moving... The story of an intellectual awakening has been told before, but never better... Halkin has a knack for the unexpected example, which operates like a button. Push it, and a world of learning gushes to the surface... a book for anyone who loves literature and its power to transform ordinary lives into everlasting wonders -  Jewish Idea Daily An American love story spanning the 1950s to 1970s.  It takes the form of a love letter written by Hoo, a scholar of ancient Greek philosophy. As the story unfolds, Hoo's relationship with Melisande and his reason for writing become clear -  Big Issue in the North A genuine exploration of love, this novel is a long, impassioned billet-doux written by a man to his wife. Hoo, a classics scholar, relives their relationship from their aspirational college years in Manhattan in the 1960s, to their domestication in "the great American interior" of suburban Illinois, to what Hoo ruefully calls "the Cimmerian years". Hoo is touchingly guided in his memories by the notes that he and Mellie left each other in the pages of books they were reading-sweet nothings, small scoldings, or just reminders to take the lamb chops out of the freezer. He has saved them all, he says, in line with the "old Jewish custom of not destroying any writing with God's name on it." But the novel is never mawkish; it portrays the multitudinous properties of a lifelong love affair, its blisses and its cruelties. - ***** Wall Street Journal