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One of the Guardian Unlimited Books' top 10 literary blogs: "A home-grown treasure ... smart, serious analysis"

The Bookaholics' Guide to Book Blogs: "Mark Thwaite ... has a maverick, independent mind"

Wednesday 23 May 2007

Kurp on Appelfeld

Patrick Kurp on Aharon Appelfeld over at Anecdotal Evidence:

The Israeli novelist Aharon Appelfeld was born in 1932 in Romania. Eight years later the Nazis seized Czernowitz, his home town, killed his mother and deported Appelfeld and his father to a concentration camp in the Ukraine. He escaped and remained a fugitive for three years before joining the Red Army. Read some of the details the details in The Story of a Life, his emblematic chronicle of 20th-century horrors narrated by a voice as quiet and oblique as the voices in his novels. Where Piotr Rawicz, another Holocaust survivor, narrates scenes of unbearable cruelty in Blood from the Sky, Appelfeld’s aesthetic remains rooted in indirection. Even when his narrative is dry and fatual, a mist clings to his words. I can’t think of another novel in which so much is left so eloquently unsaid as Badenheim 1939.

I met Appelfeld 20 years ago at a holocaust conference I was covering as a reporter. He was soft-spoken, laconic, avuncular. I introduced myself and we talked. I no longer have my notes but I remember how disarming his affability seemed. Did this explain his aesthetic, his reliance on absence as presence? How could a boy who lived by his wits from age 8 turn into so gracious a man?

Posted by Mark Thwaite

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Memorial Tablet

Squire nagged and bullied till I went to fight,
(Under Lord Derby’s Scheme). I died in hell—
(They called it Passchendaele). My wound was slight,
And I was hobbling back; and then a shell
Burst slick upon the duck-boards: so I fell
Into the bottomless mud, and lost the light.

At sermon-time, while Squire is in his pew,
He gives my gilded name a thoughtful stare:
For, though low down upon the list, I’m there;
‘In proud and glorious memory’... that’s my due.
Two bleeding years I fought in France, for Squire:
I suffered anguish that he’s never guessed.
Once I came home on leave: and then went west...
What greater glory could a man desire?

-- Siegfried Sassoon
Collected Poems (Faber and Faber)

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The Dord, the Diglot, and an Avocado or two

Pre-order Anu Garg's new book: The Dord, the Diglot, and an Avocado or Two: The Hidden Lives and Strange Origins of Common and Not-So-Common Words (ISBN 9780452288614), published by Penguin more …

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The New Spirit of Capitalism The New Spirit of Capitalism
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