Memoirs of an Anti-Semite: A Novel in Five Stories (New York Review Books)

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In other words, those who expect to be reading of lurid pogroms will be disappointed. In general, then, the book at first appears to deal more in the microcosmic elements of die Judenfrage : the gossipy and folkloric side of the prejudice, with the grander themes of Nazism, Bolshevism, and Zionism—even Freudianism—occurring distantly offstage.

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Every now and then, the narrator makes a reference that— pace Eisenberg and her praise for his avoidance of the anachronistic—has him showing slightly too much awareness, as well as too little. He several times makes an allusion to the Moldovan town of Kishinev, but never betrays any knowledge of the fact that it had been the site of a Czarist massacre of Jews that made headlines around the world.

I think here we can see the reticent figure of Rezzori, who was himself a stateless person for many years, peeping obliquely through the layers of his own story. As with the original Isherwood stories, the action indeed gets along with the help of idiotic remarks made by bigoted landladies, and the wheels are greased by flashy talk of easy money and easy sex. As night falls, the narrator finds himself:. Here is the darkness-haunted mass demonstration in favor of the Anschluss. The symbolism is almost perfect.

Memoirs Of An Anti-semite by Gregor von Rezzori

In his essay on Malinowski, Ernest Gellner wrote of how the borderline and marginal peoples of Austria-Hungary needed three things from their benign, whiskered old monarch. They required insurance against mutual fratricide, protection of local and eccentric cultures, and guarantees against the ambitions of Germany and Russia. By giving way first to micro and then to macro anti- Semitism, not only did this fair approximation of a civilization lose its best minds; it lost its collective mind, and thus managed to invite the two worst possible fates by beckoning on first a German, and then a Russian imperium.

Writing as he did from the wreckage of postwar Europe, Gregor von Rezzori could claim the peculiar distinction of being one of the few survivors to treat this ultimate catastrophe in the mild language of understatement. This is what still gives his novel the power to shock.

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Memoirs Of An Anti-Semite (New York Review Books) (New York Review Books (Paperback))

Writing from the prewar Balkans in her Black Lamb and Grey Falcon , Rebecca West noticed this suspicion at work in old Serbia and wrote: Now I understand another cause for anti-Semitism; many primitive peoples must receive their first intimation of the toxic quality of thought from Jews. They know only the fortifying idea of religion; they see in Jews the effect of the tormenting and disintegrating ideas of skepticism.

Gregor von Rezzori, in his newly reissued novel Memoirs of an Anti-Semite , meshes the micro and macro versions of interwar anti-Semitism very skillfully indeed: They spent their childhood skipping among mounds of horse dung and flocks of gay sparrows, warbling Hebraic words of wisdom in Jewish schools … disappearing then to the next town. They returned gangling, cheeky, precocious, and self-confident a couple of years later, unfurled little red flags, and chanted socialistic marching songs; then they went off again.

The next time they came back they were unrecognizable—polished, poised, coiffed, and manicured, lugging doctorates on their proud shoulders; they dug themselves in and became dentists, high-school teachers, professors of music, and God only knows what other intellectuals, married similar solid burghers and produced streams of progeny, teaching them to speak refinedly through their noses, packing them off to the Sorbonne to get equipped the better to meddle with the course of the history of civilization.

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About this product Product Information The elusive narrator of this beautifully written, complex, and powerfully disconcerting novel is the scion of a decayed aristocratic family from the farther reaches of the defunct Austro-Hungarian Empire.

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  • In five psychologically fraught episodes, he revisits his past, from adolescence to middle age, a period that coincides with the twentieth-century s ugliest years. Central to each episode is what might be called the narrator s Jewish Question.

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    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.

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    Lyrical, witty, satirical, and unblinking, Gregor von Rezzori s most controversial work is an intimate foray into the emotional underworld of modern European history. Additional Product Features Dewey Edition. Gregor von Rezzori's "novels and memoirs revealed the tragic sweep of European history through two world wars and beyond. He is an artist, devilishly honest, stubborn, the creator and the created of an artwork about a survivor It is through Mr. Yet it is not alone for the vividness of its settings and characters that we attend to "Memoirs of an Anti-Semite," We also savor the sound of the author's voice, an extraordinary blend of bitter self-denigration and sweet recollection. We relish his haunting evocations of twilight The gloriously rendered settings For all its poignancy,Memoirsis no foray into nostalgia but a deliberately fragmented, and often quite funny, version of the classic German bildungsroman' what might be termed the novel of formative influences.