Villa of Delirium by Adrien Goetz - 2017 - translated from the French by Natasha Lehrer - 2020 - published by New Vessel Press
Paris in July 2020 - Hosted by Thyme for Tea - extended for a week
Villa of Delirium is a work anyone seriously into European Art and Literature will love. It centers on an affluent French Jewish Family, the Reinachs, who re-creating a Greek Villa on the Rivera. They are related to the Rothchilds and other wealthy Jewish families.The story begins in the early 1900s and follows the families history through much of the 20th Century. The family was taken from history though the narrator Achilles the narrator is not.
The Reinachs were at their zenith during the Belle Époque era in France. We are given a marvelous insiders view of the scholars, deeply read auto-didacts and art connoisseurs in the family. Ultimately it becomes an account of how the monsterous events of World War II not only destroyed the Villa but almost took down three thousand years of European culture and history.
The narrator Achiles is son of a servant at the estate of the Eiffel family, living nearby. He is adopted by the Reinach and is taught to read ancient Greek literature. He narrates construction of the viila.
I don’t wish to reveal to much of the plot lines which follows Achilles Life.
What I think I liked best sbout Villa of Delirium was Achilles numerous interior monlogues about literature and art. He sees the decay of European culture much as did Stefan Zweig.
I can see myself rereading this book for sure.
Adrien Goetz is a novelist who teaches art history at the Sorbonne in Paris. He is editor of Grande Galerie, the quarterly magazine of the Louvre Museum. From newvesselprrss.com