Oedipus at Stalingrad

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Oedipus at Stalingrad is a rare and thrilling work - a comic novel that is both noble and outrageous, a masterwork of high literature that is also a discomfiting, deadly satire. Written in the early 1950s, when the memory of the terrible Battle of Stalingrad was still vivid, when Germans were priding themselves on their economic recovery and new acceptability, when the ethos that had permitted or even encouraged Nazi excesses was being conveniently forgotten, Oedipus at Stalingrad zeroes in on the inmost ...
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Overview

Oedipus at Stalingrad is a rare and thrilling work - a comic novel that is both noble and outrageous, a masterwork of high literature that is also a discomfiting, deadly satire. Written in the early 1950s, when the memory of the terrible Battle of Stalingrad was still vivid, when Germans were priding themselves on their economic recovery and new acceptability, when the ethos that had permitted or even encouraged Nazi excesses was being conveniently forgotten, Oedipus at Stalingrad zeroes in on the inmost psychological drama - and duplicity - of Berlin's upper class just before the war. In the summer of 1938, young Traugott von Jassilkowski - son of worthy nobodies in East Prussia - embarks on a social career that, he fervently hopes, will take him to the heights of the German aristocracy. A cunningly devised wardrobe, a strategic courtship, important weekends with well-placed grandees, the right lunches and boozy evenings with Berlin's smart set: Will these carry him to the top? Or will these trivial pursuits land the would-be baron exactly nowhere?
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Translated into English 40 years after its German publication and well after Rezzori made his name here with Memoirs of an Anti-Semite and other books, this novel, which was his debut work, announces itself as a rumormongering, mordantly ironic satire of social-climbing in Hitlerite Berlin. The career of Traugott von Jassilkowski, an East Prussian of negligible nobility, blindly follows traditional ambitions in 1938, when Nazism has fully permeated German society: nightlife of Weimaresque decadence, marriage to a peroxide Aryan with a munitions fortune and friendship with assorted German aristocrats who have subtly incorporated Nazi ideology into their social customs. The cast of characters runs acoss the social register with animated grotesqueness-especially Mrs. von Schrader, Traugott's mentor and bridge partner. In the form of garrulous gossip to an unseen interlocuter, Rezzori's narration explores with lyric sarcasm his mock hero's trivial rise and pointless inner turmoil. For this dandified Werther, an Oedipal complex is something inflicted like a preemptive punishment along with German romanticism, social blundering and political obtuseness. Compared to his later work, Rezzori's first novel is less profound as satire, its prose often overexuberant and its characters lacking lasting presence, but its indirect animadversions deftly play on postwar denial while sardonically portraying an era in all its aristocratic vainglory. (Nov.)
Library Journal
Baron Traugott von Jassilkowski, a young man of noble but impoverished extraction, tries to establish himself in high society in pre-World War II Berlin. Under the tutelage of a middle-aged countess, he learns how to dress, how to behave, and the places he should frequent (the description of Charley's Bar clientele rings true); he even plans his courtship of and marriage to a woman known only as "the blonde thoroughbred" to advance his social standing. Von Rezzori's prose style is traditional and literary, with devastatingly effective description and scintillating satire of a decadent society. The author (The Orient Express: A Novel, LJ 9/1/92) is a major European novelist, and this work enhances his fine reputation. Highly recommended for all libraries with an intellectual readership.-Ann Irvine, Montgomery Cty. P.L., Md.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780374224264
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 11/1/1994
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 289
  • Product dimensions: 6.31 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.08 (d)

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