An Ermine of Czernopol

An Ermine of Czernopol

Paperback New York Review Books Classics

By (author) Gregor von Rezzori, Translated by Philip Boehm, Introduction by Zadie Smith, Introduction by Daniel Kehlmann

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  • Publisher: NYRB Classics
  • Format: Paperback | 376 pages
  • Dimensions: 126mm x 202mm x 22mm | 399g
  • Publication date: 8 March 2012
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 1590173414
  • ISBN 13: 9781590173411
  • Edition: 1
  • Sales rank: 233,417

Product description

An NYRB Classics OriginalSet just after World War I, "An Ermine in Czernopol" centers on the tragicomic fate of Tildy, an erstwhile officer in the army of the now-defunct Austro-Hungarian Empire, determined to defend the virtue of his cheating sister-in-law at any cost. Rezzori surrounds Tildy with a host of fantastic characters, engaging us in a kaleidoscopic experience of a city where nothing is as it appears--a city of discordant voices, of wild ugliness and heartbreaking disappointment, in which, however, "laughter was everywhere, part of the air we breathed, a crackling tension in the atmosphere, always ready to erupt in showers of sparks or discharge itself in thunderous peals."

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Author information

Gregor von Rezzori (1914-1998) was born in Czernowitz (now Chernivtsi, Ukraine), Bukovina, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. 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.'' After studying at the University of Vienna, Rezzori moved to Bucharest and enlisted in the Romanian army. 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 1950s on, Rezzori had parts in several French and West German films, including one directed by his friend Louis Malle. In 1967, 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. There he produced some of his best-known works, among them "Memoirs of an Anti-Semite" and the memoir "The Snows of Yesteryear: Portraits for an Autobiography" (both published by NYRB Classics). Philip Boehm has translated numerous works from German and Polish by writers including Ingeborg Bachmann, Franz Kafka, and Stefan Chwin. For the theater he has written plays such as "Mixtitlan, The Death of Atahualpa," and "Return of the Bedbug." He has received awards from the American Translators Association, the U.K. Society of Authors, the NEA, PEN America, the Austrian Ministry of Culture, the Mexican-American Fund for Culture, and the Texas Institute of Letters. Currently he is translating Herta Müller's "The Hunger Angel." He lives in St. Louis, where he is the artistic director of Upstream Theater. Daniel Kehlmann is a widely translated German-Austrian novelist. He has won the Candide Prize, the Literature Prize of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, the Heimito von Doderer Literature Award, the Kleist Prize, the WELT Literature Prize, and the Thomas Mann Prize. He is a prolific author of fiction and criticism, and three of his novels--"Me and Kaminski," "Measuring the World," and "Fame"--have been translated into English.

Review quote

"The last great remembrancer of a region that has vanished from the map and mind of Europe." --Michael Ignatieff, "The New York Review of Books" "The novelist and memoirist Gregor von Rezzori was one of the last and most redoubtable links with a Mid-to-Eastern European world, rich in history and character, complex in nationality and ethnic allegiance, that has gone forever, devoured or dispersed through successive waves of rapaciously competitive nationalism...von Rezzori's flair for language which he cultivated almost like a collector, with the occasional, carefully planted esoteric word that matched John Updike's love for the look and the sound of rare words." -"The Independent" (London) "Gregor von Rezzori's novels...have won him many admirers and a reputation as a writer of brilliance and of highest ambition. He has been likened by critics both there and in Europe to Mann, Grass, and Musil." -"BOMB magazine" "A philosophical novel on the nature of reality...nea