Oedipus at Stalingrad

Overview

In the summer of 1938, young Traugott von Jassilkowski embarks on a social career that he 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 land him nowhere? In the scintillating narrative style for which he is justly celebrated, Gregor von Rezzori offers this cautionary about Germany at the height of its ...

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Overview

In the summer of 1938, young Traugott von Jassilkowski embarks on a social career that he 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 land him nowhere? In the scintillating narrative style for which he is justly celebrated, Gregor von Rezzori offers this cautionary about Germany at the height of its most dangerous folly.

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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: 9780374527396
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 12/28/1994
  • Pages: 289
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.67 (d)

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