The Cattle Car: Including Letter to a Little Girl

The Cattle Car: Including Letter to a Little Girl

by Georges Hyvernaud
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

In this first English translation of Hyvernaud's novel, the narrator, who has come back to France after imprisonment in Germany, is preoccupied with the near impossibility of writing a novel about his experiences; at the same time, he attempts to function normally in a world that seems to have changed radically. The Cattle Car is devoid of heroics, portraying the…  See more details below

Overview

In this first English translation of Hyvernaud's novel, the narrator, who has come back to France after imprisonment in Germany, is preoccupied with the near impossibility of writing a novel about his experiences; at the same time, he attempts to function normally in a world that seems to have changed radically. The Cattle Car is devoid of heroics, portraying the protagonist as a man without a future, "the ordinary guy who moves quietly among objects, without making any sort of commotion," a man who daydreams other people's lives. In "Letter to a Little Girl," which precedes The Cattle Car, Hyvernaud writes openly to his daughter of his own five years of wartime imprisonment. "It is proper that at least once in his life each [man] really experience the world's cruelty. That he touch bottom," he writes, refusing pity. "It is a right that one has, the right to know how hard it is, how difficult and dangerous, to conduct the human adventure. Those who must be pitied are those who are protected from everything, who elude everything - the men with gloved hands." As he tries to explain what happened in wartime Europe, he concludes, "Human beings are like that, a mixture of good and bad.... Believe in man and believe in life."

Read More

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
The Cattle Car ( paper June 1997; 154 pp.; 0-8101-6030-7; paper 0-8101-6031-5): Another view of WW II and its aftermath, in the first English translation of a novel (originally published in 1953 in France) by a critic and teacher who therein turned his own experiences and his reflections on them into a seductive metafiction. We observe the would-be writer of a novel about the war observing his own friends and neighbors, noting their strategies for survival and quotidian priorities (such as the relief, so to speak, of access to public urinals) and musing over the difficulty of capturing in coherent fictional form the lives of people concerned with "fatigue and varicose veins, gas bills to pay and waits in line to speak to someone at city hall." But the book isn't at all hermetic: It is further enlivened by vividly drawn characters and a commonsensical appreciation of the mundane satisfactions of simply making do and getting by.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780810160316
Publisher:
Northwestern University Press
Publication date:
05/20/1997
Edition description:
Translated
Pages:
156
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.60(d)

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >