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Publisher's Summary

Combining memoir, biography, history, and literary criticism, Three Rings weaves together the stories of three exiled writers who turned to the classics of the past to create masterpieces of their own - works that pondered the nature of narrative itself. Erich Auerbach, the Jewish philologist who fled Hitler's Germany and wrote his classic study of Western literature, Mimesis, in Istanbul...François Fenelon, the 17th-century French archbishop whose ingenious sequel to the Odyssey, The Adventures of Telemachus - a veiled critique of the Sun King and the bestselling book in Europe for one hundred years - resulted in his banishment...and the German novelist W. G. Sebald, self-exiled to England, whose distinctively meandering narratives explore Odyssean themes of displacement, nostalgia, and separation from home.

Intertwined with these tales of exile and artistic crisis is an account of Mendelsohn's struggles to write two of his own books - a family saga of the Holocaust and a memoir about reading the Odyssey with his elderly father. As Three Rings moves to its startling conclusion, a climactic revelation about the way in which the lives of its three heroes were linked across borders, languages, and centuries forces the listener to reconsider the relationship between narrative and history, art and life.

©2020 Daniel Mendelsohn (P)2021 Tantor

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Disappointing compared to his other books

I love Daniel Mendelsohn's books, but this one made little sense to me. Whenever he talked about his own life, it was clear and moving. But when he shifted to the historical figures he focused on in this book--the majority of this book--I couldn't understand where he was going or why.