Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Jarmila by Ernst Weiss

Jarmila by Ernst Weiss
Tanslated by Rebecca Morrison and Petra Howard-Wuerz
Afterword by Peter Engel
Pushkin Press

Jarmila is one of those instances when most of what I have to say about a book has already been said. I'll defer to Max at Pechorin's Journal. And now that I look, I also see Guy at His Futile Preoccupations... and Winstonsdad's Blog have also posted on the novella. Read their reviews--they cover the book well.

It's a wonderful little book, reminding me how much I've enjoyed reading Weiss (see these posts for more on Georg Letham: Physi­cian and Mur­derer and Eyewitness). At its heart lies two different types of love triangles. The first involves a former watchmaker, Jarmila, and Jarmila's husband. The second focuses on the watchmaker, Jarmila's husband, and Jarmila's son. Each case ends in tragedy. I'll compare the symbolism in the novella to the thistle in Tolstoy's Hadji Murad: so obvious, so simple, and so effective. The other thing that stood out for me was the tone, a strange blending of wistfulness and solemnity, as if mourning a past irretrievably lost.

Read the other reviews to go deeper into the plot and symbolism, then pick up the slim book when you have a chance. Highly recommended.

The first chapter is available online in a translation by Sheldon Gilman and Robert Levine.

No comments: