To oversimplify, Tildy is to a large extent the victim of Romanian nationalism. Married to Tamara, a woman just as enigmatic as he, and who suffers, apparently, from a combination of depression and drug abuse, he challenges to a duel a series of Romanians who have insulted both his wife and sister-in-law. For defending the honor of these women, to the people of Czernopol Major Tildy is a fool without a sense of humor. To the narrator Tildy is a character from a vanished world who, in a town like Czernopol, can only meet a tragic end.
In a city in which the conflict between the hero and the others is a conflict between two systems of a different nature justice, an ethical value, and wit, an esthetic value , the result can only be grotesque. And the only way the tragic could manifest itself in an amoral city that is, a city that opposes to the idea of justice the idea of wit is through the grotesque.
The description of this prostitute, the mixture of cheapness and vulgarity but also of beauty and innocence, and of her interaction with Tildy is extraordinary. They fall in love, but this love is as grotesque as its setting. In the morning, as they walk together with the drunken brother-in-law who keeps quoting Latin authors, Tildy saves him from an oncoming streetcar with broken brakes and Tildy is killed. Ma quali sono questi avvenimenti? Ha sposato Tamara, figlia di una principessa e del vecchio Pasckano, una donna non bella e che vive isolata a causa di misteriose malattie dalle quali si cura facendo uso di morfina.
View all 3 comments. May 21, Scot rated it really liked it.
An Ermine in Czernopol is a fictional testimonial of what life was like in the capital of Bucovina between the two 20th century world wars. Gregor Von Rezzori published it in German in ; this English translation only first became available in It takes An Ermine in Czernopol is a fictional testimonial of what life was like in the capital of Bucovina between the two 20th century world wars. It takes time and thought to appreciate this book—people tend to have too little of both these days.
Who will like this novel? People intrigued by the multicultural swirl of central Europe following World War I, sophisticated cynics with both a sense of humor and a paradoxical nostalgia for romanticism, students of 20th century German literature, fans of the quirky yet cultivated bildungsroman. As I read this work I marveled at the detailed descriptions, the vivid crystallization of moments of epiphany, pain, or absurdity—and as can sometimes be the case, the collision of all three.
Von Rezzori is a fascinating fellow in and of himself, a talented and insightful person with an unusual biographical vantage to draw upon, but kudos as well must be given to Philip Boehm for the lyrical and deep vocabulary of the translation—no small feat, given the confluence of dialects, languages, and cultures the book conveys and evaluates. A way of life and world are disappearing while our narrator comes of age in an upper middle class German-speaking home.
He tells the tale with the voice of an experienced and astute adult remembering with clarity those vivid impressions and distinctive individuals that shaped and peopled the world of Czernopol. This is not a novel to turn to for gripping plot, but rather for a series of snippets of interaction, a succession of character studies with occasional interplay between the individuals described.
What powers the novel is its tone, an illuminated sense of the bittersweet, the tragicomedy of human existence, as the innocence of youth gives way for the narrator to the darker days so undeniably being foreshadowed, as heroic figures of an older order, such as Major Tildy, encounter machine guns targeting them from the windmills they might tilt against in Quixotic fashion.
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Dark humor is what sets the citizens of Czernopol apart—they can and do laugh at themselves—well the wiser ones do—even as tolerance gives way to nationalism and ethnic purging. View 1 comment. Con questa citazione inizia il romanzo di Rezzori, un capolavoro poetico e geniale amato da Magris, alcuni personaggi si sfaldano quando perdono la loro pelle dochisciottesca ed entrano nel mondo che non avevano concepito.
Mar 28, Chuck LoPresti rated it really liked it. This is no easy read - and it will not appeal to many - but if you love what Proust wrote - you'll probably find the same affection for Rezzori. Rezzori is an extremely intelligent writer whose philosophical understanding of the world is everywhere apparent. This can be troublesome for the reader not willing to forego plot for description.
If you like complex prose, you'll be delighted. When Rezzori works more like Farrell, telling a great story while delving into the complexities of human thought and interaction, he's more enjoyable - to me at least.
An Ermine in Czernopol (Paperback)
Towards the last third of the book Rezzori ties it all together with a clearer narrative that loses none of its verbal prowess and the pages turned more quickly in my hands. I can imagine with another read - one focused less on completion - my attention to detail would increase and I would find greater appreciation. It's somewhat embarrassing to admit I was working towards a finish here because it really does become laborious in parts.
I couldn't helping thinking about Ensor's Entry of Christ Into Brussels as multiple streams of maskers converge on a town square to collectively tout their selfishness in the face of mercy. The dehumanization of man in mask or uniform is a central theme in Ermine and one that Rezzori contemplates with amazing insight - how things are revealed and accepted is always central to this work. There's many great pieces of wisdom that justify Banville's claim that place this work alongside The Tin Drum and One Hundred Years of Solitude - but it's Rezzori's own depth of intelligence that will limit this sentiment to those willing to spend their time slowly here.
I never see a time when this work reaches nearly the expansive audience of the books to which Banville has compared this with and selfishly - I'm fine with that. There is nothing here that will make this work generally popular or widely read - but no keen student of late 20th-C European fiction should leave this unread. His "message", if he has one, is somewhat similar to that of Albert Cossery - if you give into to your anger and pettiness - you have let your oppressors win - control yourself - seek joy and love and suffer less.
Or, in Rezzori's words: "She couldn't dance because she didn't take herself lightly. Jan 15, Andrew added it Shelves: german-language-fiction , eastern-european-fiction.
It's typical Rezzori material, and if you've seen The Grand Budapest Hotel, to a certain degree, you know the drill -- a cast of eccentrics in a town on the fringe of the old Austro-Hungarian Empire. However, it's probably the weakest Rezzori I've read. As much as I liked each character, each episode, it didn't seem to unite as a whole the way Memoirs of an Anti-Semite or The Snows of Yesteryear did. However, they remain wonderful, old-world stories as individual elements, and it's worth the rea It's typical Rezzori material, and if you've seen The Grand Budapest Hotel, to a certain degree, you know the drill -- a cast of eccentrics in a town on the fringe of the old Austro-Hungarian Empire.
However, they remain wonderful, old-world stories as individual elements, and it's worth the read. Jun 11, Chad Post rated it really liked it. This is really excellent, like basically all NYRB books. Only other thing of von Rezzori's I've read is "Death of My Brother Abel" which is OP, and has a sequel that I don't think has ever been published , but now I'm stoked to read the other parts of this trilogy.
There's a lot to love in this novel--the humor, the almost manic way the plot is related, the underlying sense of impending doom that will be WWII--but my favorite favorite bit is how Major Tildy gets sent to the insane asylum for cha This is really excellent, like basically all NYRB books. There's a lot to love in this novel--the humor, the almost manic way the plot is related, the underlying sense of impending doom that will be WWII--but my favorite favorite bit is how Major Tildy gets sent to the insane asylum for challenging everyone to a dual.
Aug 21, Ciaran Monaghan rated it it was ok Shelves: around-the-world Here is another book where I can appreciate the writing but often found it quite inaccessible. Sentences run on and on and it's difficult to keep track of what's going on, particularly with the numerous, rambling philosophical monologues. The author does give great descriptions of people and place, too, creating a colourful picture of a city, but these were increasingly less frequent as the book goes on. I know that a different, more patient more intelligent reader would get more out of it, as Here is another book where I can appreciate the writing but often found it quite inaccessible.
I know that a different, more patient more intelligent reader would get more out of it, as it is clearly very well written, but I just didn't have the energy to commit to enjoy it fully. Jun 15, Richard Thompson rated it it was amazing Shelves: world-literature. This is a wonderful book written in an enchanting comic style with larger than life characters and techniques of exaggeration and estrangement that make Rezzori a worthy heir of Gogol and that prefigure the writing of Hunter Thompson and the movies of Wes Anderson.
This is the story of eccentric people in an eccentric small city that is a melting pot of nationalities that bring a richness to the culture, but also a measure of strife. The eccentricities are emphasized and brought into focus by th This is a wonderful book written in an enchanting comic style with larger than life characters and techniques of exaggeration and estrangement that make Rezzori a worthy heir of Gogol and that prefigure the writing of Hunter Thompson and the movies of Wes Anderson.
The eccentricities are emphasized and brought into focus by the narration from the child's point of view, which causes everything to been seen with a sense of wonder and novelty and an unwillingness to accept prosaic explanations. It is the story of a transitional moment in time between the wars, a curious world where remnants of the old survived, but the modern world with all of its wonders, crassness and horrors was not yet fully born, a weird transitional state that Rezzori neatly sums up in the final allegorical chapter.
Czernopol reminded me a bit of my home town of Lexington, Kentucky, another small city filled with eccentric characters where everyone knew everyone else's business and where the two ethnic groups -- black and white -- lived in close and mostly very friendly proximity that existed side by side with an undercurrent of racism and distrust. Apr 11, Susann rated it did not like it Shelves: idlewild.
There were seven of us at the book discussion. Three including myself had finished it, and only one liked it. I don't even remember her name and I don't care! But that and my fondness for Tanya is about it. The rest was a tangential mess that left me unmoved. Jul 11, Ruth B rated it it was amazing Shelves: nyrb , coveted-and-cherished. It is rambling. It is long. It is genius. Dec 27, Gavin rated it really liked it Shelves: fiction , recycled.
Such beautiful language, so much unnecessary rumination. A book that seems to bridge the period between the flowery language of the 19th Century and the modern emotional resonance of honest introspection. Could have done with a bit of editing in its original form, but a very interesting view into a place that is both universally familiar and quite foreign. Nov 18, Adam Lowy rated it it was amazing Shelves: great-stuff. An amazing experience. Bruno Schultz written by a non-Jew? The description of essentially a shtetl, with comic tales enshadowed by the coming Holocaust.
Proustian digressions of memory. The roots of anti- Semitism May 21, Simon rated it liked it. Well when I bought this book I had no idea the authors most famous work was the Memoirs of an Anti Semite which would have been enough to stop me reading this book. I'm glad I didn't know, as otherwise I wouldn't have been able to shock as much as this book did shock me in places.
The book sort of tells the story of the fall of the Austro Hungarian empire in Czernopol or Czernowitz that was in that empire and has since been in Romania, The soviet union and nowadays is in the Ukraine through the eyes of a child in the 's's who has a seemingly bizarre and privileged upbringing. The child narrates the story in flashback from adulthood and intrduces us to a cast of people who popluated the town form prostitutes to drunks and drug addicts to old hussars and Jewish business people and all sorts of others and what happens between them.
He doesn't however ever manage to go more than a few pages without a tirade of anti semitic language and stereotyping that would have been normal back then but is repellant to read now and the fact that Gregor Von rezzori managed to survive world war two working as a radio presenter in Berlin suggests he was quite comfortable with that milieu. But then most of the best caracters in the book are of course the Jews almost all of whom you'd want to have as friends or to be around especially Solly Brill who speaks in a fabulous mix of Yiddish and everything else and he sounds like many of my elder relatives did when I was a kid, I understood all the yiddish he used apart from one word Shmontses that I had to look up in my dads old Yiddish english dictionary to confirm it was a type of nonsense.
Oh and how do you accidentally enrol your kids in a jewish school without realising it, just one of the many things that happen in the book to make me scratch my head. Still this is very well written if not a very linear tale it is engrossing and the surprising twists that include some very violent football fans are often the last thing I was expecting to happen. By the end of the book nothing was certain as to how it would end and new caracters were still arriving at the end.
A book well worth reading if you have a strong stomach and best avoided if you don't. Oct 03, Daniel Polansky added it Shelves: nyrb-classics. About childhood in a a provincial capital in a post WWI Romanian, and also about the end of the patchwork, multi-ethnic fabric of the Hapsburg Empire which would be torn asunder during WWII.
This is a sly, subtle, sidelong sort of work, digressions and side stories dominating the hint of plot. As a writer Rezzori is a pressure boxer, like Proust or Stephen King, relying for narrative effect on a cavalcade of observations and analogies, and I often felt that many of his lines examine Interesting.
As a writer Rezzori is a pressure boxer, like Proust or Stephen King, relying for narrative effect on a cavalcade of observations and analogies, and I often felt that many of his lines examined individually did not hold closely together. But there is a way he has of using negative space, of slipping essential details sidelong, which I very much enjoyed, and his earthy, ironic humanism is a treat.
I mean I liked it enough to pick up another one of his while I was out this week. Mar 03, Vuk Trifkovic rated it it was amazing. Fascinating book, a hidden gem, at least in the UK. Maybe it was just me. The book is not terrifyingly original, it does fit fairly well into that genre of post-K'und'K novel.
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But it's incredibly perceptive, evocative, warm and human. Sure, the sentences can be bit, long winded and teutonic, musings often stretched out for longer than they should and some pieces of composition do not quite fit perfectly. But t Fascinating book, a hidden gem, at least in the UK. But the warmth of narration and the depth of insight are just astounding. If it was down to me, I'd make this a compulsory reading for every high-school student in all countries of the Pannonian Basin Jan 15, Alice rated it really liked it Shelves: An unexpected gem that is definitely not for everyone.
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Its structure is unusual. An Ermine in Czernopol. Gregor von Rezzori. 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. 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 s on, Rezzori had parts in several French and West German films, including one directed by his friend Louis Malle. In , 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.