Synopses & Reviews
An account of the Nazi-occupied Netherlands from one of Europe's most powerful chroniclers of the Holocaust
In 2010, FSG published two novels set in World War II by the German Jewish psychoanalyst Hans Keilson: The Death of the Adversary (1959) and Comedy in a Minor Key (1944). With their Chekhovian sympathy for perpetrators and bystanders as much as for victims and resisters, they were, as Francine Prose raved on the front page of The New York Times Book Review, "masterpieces" by "a genius."
After Keilson's death at age 101, a diary was found among his papers covering nine months in hiding with members of a Dutch resistance group. It tells the story not only of Keilson's survival but also of the moral and artistic life he was struggling to make for himself. Along with Keilsonesque set pieces--such as an encounter with a pastor who is sick of having to help Jews, and a day locked upstairs during a Nazi roundup in the city--the diary is full of reading notes on Kafka, Rilke, Celine, Buber, and others. Forcibly separated from his wife and young child, Keilson was having a passionate love affair with a younger Jewish woman in hiding a few blocks away, and writing dozens of sonnets to her, struggling with claims of morality and of love.
1944 Diary is a revelatory new angle on an often-told history and the work of one of Europe's most important novelists at a key moment of the twentieth century.
1944 Diary] is a deeply personal account, made even more remarkable that it was written during World War II and the horrors of the Holocaust . . . A moving and fascinating read. --Library Journal
In 2010, FSG published two novels by the German- Jewish writer Hans Keilson: Comedy in a Minor Key--written in 1944 while Keilson was in hiding in the Netherlands, first published in German in 1947, and never before in English--and The Death of the Adversary, begun in 1944 and published in 1959, also in German. With their Chekhovian sympathy for perpetrators and bystanders as well as for victims and resisters, Keilson's novels were, as Francine Prose said on the front page of The New York Times Book Review, "masterpieces" by "a genius" on her list of "the world's very greatest writers." Keilson was one hundred years old, alive and well and able to enjoy his belated fame.
1944 Diary, rediscovered among Keilson's papers shortly after his death, covers nine months he spent in hiding in Delft with members of a Dutch resistance group, having an affair with a younger Jewish woman in hiding a few blocks away and striving to make a moral and artistic life for himself as the war and the Holocaust raged around him. For readers familiar with Keilson's novels as well as those new to his work, this diary is an incomparable spiritual X-ray of the mind and heart behind the art: a record of survival and creativity in what Keilson called "the most critical year of my life."
Offering further insight into Keilson are the sonnets he wrote for his lover, Hanna Sanders, which appear in translation at the back of this volume.
Damion Searls on PowellsBooks.Blog
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