The Island: Three Tales

Overview

The title story takes place on an island off the coast of Naples, where a decaying monastery casts its shadow over the timeless, isolated world. A gifted young stonemason loses his sight and his senses in a mysterious, grisly accident, an accident that deeply affects the lives of his fiancee, the priest who buries her stillborn child, and the few monks left in the old monastery. "The Tower" tells a haunting story-within-a-story of a leper in the eighteenth century confined to the "Tower of Fright," where he lives...
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Overview

The title story takes place on an island off the coast of Naples, where a decaying monastery casts its shadow over the timeless, isolated world. A gifted young stonemason loses his sight and his senses in a mysterious, grisly accident, an accident that deeply affects the lives of his fiancee, the priest who buries her stillborn child, and the few monks left in the old monastery. "The Tower" tells a haunting story-within-a-story of a leper in the eighteenth century confined to the "Tower of Fright," where he lives in anguish and unbearable solitude. his story, with its parallel in modern times, is that of the capacity of the human spirit to rise above suffering and alienation. The final tale, "The Second Coming," is set in the medieval city of Orvieto during the Black Death, a time when the terror-stricken people craving miracles can easily turn violent against a wandering stranger tormented by doubts about redemption and faith; but his suffering and death have lasting repercussions for the ailing Pope Urban IV. With his passionate, deeply affecting prose and timeless stories, Gustaw Herling has that rare vision that prompts critics like Peter Levi to call him "one of the greatest European writers."
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Editorial Reviews

New York Times Books of the Century
...[A]ny reader approaching these stories will find a timeless world like no other....he probes with thrilling delicacy the infinite and eternal consequences of human decisions and intentions (1993).
New York Times Books of the Century
...[A]ny reader approaching these stories will find a timeless world like no other....he probes with thrilling delicacy the infinite and eternal consequences of human decisions and intentions.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Three remarkable short works testify to the rare sensibility and vision of Herling ( A World Apart ), a Polish writer now living in Italy. In each, religious dramas are played out against Italian scenery in slowly shifting historical landscapes. The title novella takes place on an island near Naples, opening with the unconscionable behavior of the local monks during a 17th-century plague, and then moving to encompass the years from 1933 to 1950. ``The Tower,'' perhaps the most interesting piece, centers around a book containing an account of an 18th-century leper and frames the leper's tale with an attempt to reconstruct the story of the man who owned--and cherished--the book before his death in the final years of WW II. ``The Second Coming: A Medieval Tale'' tells of a plague-ridden community's thirst for miracles during the reign of Pope Urban IV. Herling's protagonists grapple with profound religious suffering, and their pain is conveyed minutely and, simultaneously, with distance. His prose has the measured cadences and his narrative the spiritual passion of 18th- or 19th-century novels; to call his fiction old-fashioned, however, would miss the point: it may be timeless. (Nov.)
Library Journal
Herling, who is considered one of Poland's greatest living writers, recorded his experiences in a Russian slave labor camp in A World Apart (Arbor House, 1986), which received considerable acclaim. The three novellas that comprise this volume are set in Italy, where Herling now lives, and evince a pastoral mood and religious overtones. ``The Island'' tells the story of a mason who became disabled after an accident at work. ``The Tower'' uses the device of a story within a story to explore the feelings of a man who encounters and befriends a leper confined to a tower. ``The Second Coming,'' set in the 13th century, draws parallels between Pope Urban IV's life and the agonies endured by Jesus. In each case, the protagonist experiences spiritual growth. The stories are literary and traditional. Recommended for academic and large public libraries.-- Ann Irvine, Montgomery Cty. P.L., Md.
New York Times Books of the Century
...[A]ny reader approaching these stories will find a timeless world like no other....he probes with thrilling delicacy the infinite and eternal consequences of human decisions and intentions (1993).
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780140232790
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 1/1/1994
  • Pages: 160
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.68 (h) x 0.45 (d)

Table of Contents

The Island 2
The Tower 88
The Second Coming 126
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