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The Immortal Bartfuss
     

The Immortal Bartfuss

by Aharon Appelfeld, Jeffrey M. Green (Translator)
 

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Set in contemporary Israel, The Immortal Bartfuss is perhaps the most profound and powerful portrait of a Holocaust survivor ever drawn. Using the techniques of omission and indirection perfected in such masterpieces as Badenheim 1939 and To the Land of the Cattails, Appelfeld tells the story of Bartfuss, enigmatically "the immortal" because of his experience in

Overview

Set in contemporary Israel, The Immortal Bartfuss is perhaps the most profound and powerful portrait of a Holocaust survivor ever drawn. Using the techniques of omission and indirection perfected in such masterpieces as Badenheim 1939 and To the Land of the Cattails, Appelfeld tells the story of Bartfuss, enigmatically "the immortal" because of his experience in the camps. Now locked in a hopeless marriage, Bartfuss struggles to suppress the emotions and recollections he fears and despises, while trying to keep alive the poise, dignity, and compassion essential to a human being. The Immortal Bartfuss is an overwhelming and unforgettable study of a man reduced to his tragic limits.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
With this masterly but devastating portrait of a Holocaust survivor, the author of Tzili and To the Land of the Cattails abandons the milieu of WW II Europe and embraces the contemporary setting of modern-day Israel. Appelfeld distills his trademark elliptic, dreamlike poetic prose into a bitter brew, introducing Bartfuss, a wretched, paranoid miser who hoards his words and thoughts as well as his worldly fortune. Nicknamed ``The Immortal'' because of injuries withstood in a concentration camp (the episode is alluded to but never explained), Bartfuss is enervated by his hatred of his wife Rosa, whom he taunts for sleeping with village peasants to save her life during the war. This work is a blend of allegory and realism (Bartfuss represents a type of survivor whose tragedy has eaten away at his soul; he is also symbolic of an alienated Israel). The claustrophobia of this tale (``Everywhere the same gravelly accent, the same weary blur of people swamped by many disasters which had pressed a mask of staleness on their faces'') is relieved somewhat by the protagonist's feeble love for his retarded daughter, Bridget, and a desire, however conflicted and thwarted, that the suffering of Holocaust survivors should somehow ennoble them. (February)
Library Journal
Once again, Appelfeld masterfully uses the techniques of indirection and omission to create a story of real emotional impact. Bartfuss is a survivor of the camps now living in Israel who ``somewhere in the sands of Italy'' lost his great dream. Ever since, he has struggled between his desire to forget and need to remember. He is distanced from everyone, including his wife, who he feels cannot truly understand since she did not experience what he did. Yet those who do understand have emerged from the experience so emotionally scarred that they see intimacy as something to fear. At one point Bartfuss cries out that he ``should have been more generous. People who went through the Holocaust should be generous. Do you understand me?'' A magnificent novel from someone who does. David W. Henderson, Eckerd Coll. Lib., St. Petersburg, Fl.
Rita Kashner
What Ahron Appelfeld has done, in his twenty or so novels, is to weave, like some great healing spider, a dreamlike tapestry of the faithful and the faithless...the blind ones who didn't see their fate coming and the ones who outlived it and can't stop seeing it. His stories never enter the camps—what happened there, Appelfeld says, is too unreal even for fiction—but move around it, a great, silent, black, intensely magnetic hole.
The Washington Post Book World

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780802133588
Publisher:
Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date:
04/28/1994
Series:
Appelfeld, Aharon Series
Pages:
138
Product dimensions:
5.39(w) x 7.94(h) x 0.40(d)

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