On the contrary, these are the semi-autobiographical reflections of an elderly gentleman on memorable and dear events in his long life which brought him into more than just passing contact with a people whom he should despise, as he was brought up to believe. Growing up in the easternmost reaches of the dying Austro-Hungarian empire before the s now Romania , in an upperclass Austrian family who held fast and pathetically to the illusion of imperial injunction to represent civilising influences in this backward region, part of his instruction was to keep clear of Jews.
The Jews were of course numerous in this part of Europe and hopelessly for our hero, he is torn between repulsion and fascination by these people who seem to be more clever, more sophisticated at times more goodlooking even! This uneasy ambivalence followed him from boyhood through adulthood in the early aftermath of the 2nd world war. Despite appearances to the contrary especially to his family, he did not particularly avoid circumstances that would eventually create a special bond and relationship between him and certain Jews.
The memoirs are composed of 5 such episodes -- as a young boy, his summer friendship with a piano prodigy of the same age, as a young man -- a strange arrangement with a girl to secretly go through and dispose of the belongings of her dead relations, a secret affair with a widow which ended in a humiliating way, an intense friendship with an interesting girl who introduced him to the literati of Vienna, and last, his falling in love with and marrying a frighteningly beautiful and intelligent girl broken by the experiences of war and whom even his love could not put back together again.
Those experiences marked him in subtle ways for many years to come, all the more for being a witness to the unfolding of the grim events which led these people to the death camps. Despite these bonds, he recalls the times when he acted in petty contempt or perhaps jealousy toward these same people for being "other" and we realise at the end that commiting his recollections to paper many decades after was the gentlest and most loving act he could do to honor them.
Without sentimentality, he conveys his love for and deep connection with a place and a way of life in that sad, remote part of Europe that now exists only in his memory. As only the best of writers can, he draws us deftly into his world and mind without our being conscious of the transition that we go through each time we open a page of his book. He does this in a fluid way I rarely feel about other equally excellent authors' works, and this is what makes him, in my opinion, a cut above the rest.
It's a pity he is not more widely read. The aroma of the dying embers of the fire that destroyed the empire into which the narrator was born fills each chapter of his life and rises to form a cloud that stands between him and his past and stands between the reader and the reality of his life, fiction though it may be. Moments of hilarity abound like the episode when the young boy of Czernowitz tries to improvise a uniform that will transform him into a young fraternity cadet.
His humiliation is evident to all but himself yet this moment of humor is quickly transformed in the horrible reality of class and racial consciousness that bare the dark side of the world of our young memoirist. The young boy grows into a gregarious dreamer whose artistic talent is wasted on crepe-paper window decorations and dreams that lay fallow in the byways of Bucharest.
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His thoughts ran to romantic melodrama: "At nineteen life is a drama threatening to become a tragedy every fifteen minutes. Rezzori uses colors and mood motifs with a veritable pastiche of breathtaking prose to hold the adventures and musings of the memoirist together and control the pace of the story.
Memoirs Of An Anti-Semite
He is no Nazi. To the contrary, he is apolitical, accommodating, cosmopolitan. He has Jewish friends and Jewish lovers, and their Jewishness is a matter of abiding fascination to him.
His deepest and most defining relationship may even be the strange dance of attraction and repulsion that throughout his life he has conducted with this forbidden, desired, inescapable, imaginary Jewish other. And yet it is just his relationship that has blinded him to—and makes him complicit in—the terrible realities his era.
Books Read in German Literature No current Talk conversations about this book. This is a wonderful novel. In her introduction to the NYRB edition of this book, Deborah Eisenberg describes it as 'a beautiful thing that's made out of ugly things. As to the 'ugly things' that make up the book, : review to be continued. PaulDalton Mar 28, This is a gorgeously written book but it took me awhile to finish it because there was a high level of unpleasantness, which might be expected given the title. It is not what you think it is.
Rezzori's novel reads as if written with the authority of a memoir yet it is imbued with the "golden haze of myth" p Status Gregor von Rezzori — primary author all editions calculated Eisenberg, Deborah Introduction secondary author some editions confirmed Neugroschel, Joachim Translator secondary author some editions confirmed. You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data. Memoirs of an Anti-Semite.
Memoiren eines Antisemiten. Memoirs of an anti-semite: a novel in five stories. Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language. Information from the Russian Common Knowledge.
Canon de la narrativa universal del siglo XX Skushno is a Russian word that is difficult to translate. I really mustn't, you know--at my age, one has to be careful. Gray, Paul.
Memoirs of an Anti-Semite
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