Richard Lourie reviews The Journey by H.G. Adler (translated by Peter Filkins):
I’ve read a lot of books, but nothing quite like this one. An attempt to use the instruments of 20th-century literature to depict the dislocations of spirit and consciousness caused by the genocide against the Jews, its style could be called Holocaust modernism, an improbable formulation if ever there was one.
H.G. Adler’s fate was as unusual as his art. Born in Prague in 1910, he failed to flee before the Nazi takeover and ended up in Theresienstadt, where, as he later wrote in a monograph about the “showcase” camp, “illusion flourished wildly, and hope, only mildly dampened by anxiety, would eclipse everything that was hidden under an impenetrable haze.” Adler spent two and a half years there with his family. Later, in Auschwitz, his wife decided to accompany her mother to the gas chambers so she wouldn’t have to die alone. In all, Adler lost 18 members of his family, including his own mother and father (more...)