Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Friday, November 22, 2013

An Ermine in Czernopol by Gregor Von Rezzori 1958

This wonderful book—literally, a book full of wonders—which lived for too long in shadow, has been brought fully to light by Philip Boehm’s lustrous new translation. An Ermine in Czernopol may at last take its place on the shelf alongside The Tin Drum and One Hundred Years of Solitude.
—John Banville

If my shelves were short, I would remove both of the books Banville mentions and replace them with An Ermine in Czernopol and Memoirs of an Anti-Semite.  

Memoirs of An Anti-Semite is one of the towering master works of 20th century European literature.  I am so grateful to Caroline and Lizzy for hosting  the German Literature III event so I did not die never having read the works of Gregor Von Rezzori.  He was a very productive writer in a wide variety of genres including travel books,  movie scripts, children's books, popular literature and towering works of art.   

An Ermine in Czernopol is set in Czernowitz, once in The Austro-Hungarian Empire, now part of the Ukraine.  It was once a place great cultural diversity, with a dozen languages, several major religions co-existing.  I cannot describe it as well as the NYRB:

"Czernopol is a border city, a cultural and linguistic melting pot “where you can find a dozen of the most disparate nationalities and at least half a dozen bitterly feuding faiths—all living in the cynical harmony that is built on mutual aversion and common business dealings.” It’s suspended in history between a feudal past, whose peasants still bring their pungent presence and goods to the city’s market square, and a globalizing modernity whose vanguard has arrived in Czernopol in the form of American jazz, which jostles with the old Viennese waltzes and gypsy music. The city is further divided between the imperial Habsburg past and the chauvinistic nationalism of the new Romanian regime: “Even in its deteriorated state this former grandeur was easy to see and hard to forget, not yet fully surrendered to the garish colors of the new rulers.” In the lull between the world wars there are signs of the catastrophe to come: Nazi demonstrations, swastikas painted on Jewish shops, and, in the climactic set-piece scene, a pogrom sparked off by ethnic tensions over soccer team allegiances."

I know I have not told the plot and I don't plan to.  All I will say is read his books.  The NYRB has three i titles available.  I have not yet read his memoirs The Snows of Yesterday but I will correct that error soon.  

I am really glad I decided to once again participate in 
German Literature Month November 2013.  I thank Caroline and Lizzy for hosting this great reading event.

So far I have read and posted on these works, all but Kafka are new to me writers. 
The Tin Drum-by Gunther Grass
"The Judgement" by Franz Kafka
All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque -very powerful war novel 
"A Letter from an Unknown Woman" by Stefan Zweig. 
The Death of the Adversary by Hans Klein - a work of genius
"The Job Application" by Robert Walser 
Chess Game by Stefan Zweig-I will read much more of his work
"The Battle of Sempach" by Robert Walser
I have also listed to podcasts of "Basta" and "Frau Wilkes" by Robert Walser
The March of Radetsky by Joseph Roth I hope to read all his work

Memoirs of an Anti-Semite by Gregor von Rezzori amazing work of art.

"Flypaper" by Robert Musil

"Mendel the Bibliophile" by Stefan Zweig - I totally love this story.

"The Dead are Silent" by Arthur Schnitzler an entertaining work from 1907

"There Will Be Action" by Heinrich Boll a very good short story by Nobel Prize Winner

Transit by Anne Seghars 1942 very much worth reading

The World of Yesterday by Stefan Zweig - an elegy to a lost culture. 1942

Austerlitz by W. G. Sebald. 2001. 

The Emperor's Tomb By Joseph Roth 1938 

"Flower Days" by Robert Walser 1907 (no post) 

"Trousers" by Robert Walser -1909 (no post)

Medea By Crista Wolf

An Ermine in Czernopol by Gregor Von Rezzori 

"Forgotten Dreams" by StefanZweig (no post)  

Gregor von Rezzori (1914–1998) was born in Czernowitz (now Chernivtsi, Ukraine), Bukovina, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He later described his childhood in a family of declining fortunes as one “spent among slightly mad and dislocated personalities in a period that also was mad and dislocated and filled with unrest.’’ After studying at the University of Vienna, Rezzori moved to Bucharest and enlisted in the Romanian army. During World War II , he lived in Berlin, where he worked as a radio broadcaster and published his first novel. In West Germany after the war, he wrote for both radio and film and began publishing books at a rapid rate, including the four-volume Idiot’s Guide to German Society. From the late 1950s on, Rezzori had parts in several French and West German films, including one directed by his friend Louis Malle. In 1967, after spending years classified as a stateless person, Rezzori settled in a fifteenth-century farmhouse outside of Florence with his wife, gallery owner Beatrice Monte della Corte. There he produced some of his best-known works, among them Memoirs of an Anti-Semite and the memoir The Snows of Yesteryear: Portraits for an Autobiography (both published by NYRB Classics).  From New York Review of Books.

From one of the movies he acted in.

Mel u


Eric P said...

Some really great recommendations in this post. I would add that you will probably want to track down Von Rezzori's Death of My Brother Abel.

I also really liked Joseph Roth's Hotel Savoy, which is a shorter work, similar to much of Zweig's work.

Mel u said...

Eric P. Since I wrote this post I have read Hotel Savoy and also really liked it. Thanks so much for your comment and visit.