As part of the PEN World Voices Festival back in May, Deborah Eisenberg, Michael Cunningham, Daniel Kehlmann, and Edmund White came down to the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York to talk about Gregor von Rezzori and his Bukovina trilogy (An Ermine in Czernopol, Memoirs of an Anti-Semite, and The Snows of Yesteryear). It was a really great talk, with dissenting opinions but overall admiration for Rezzori’s work. Also, at around the 1:04 mark (though the video gets a bit spotty), a woman who grew up in Bukovina (a region split between Romania and Ukrania now, but with a very mixed cultural history over the last century), and whose parents were in Rezzori’s generation makes a very interesting point about anti-semitism at the time, and how it relates to Rezzori’s treatment of their shared homeland.
As part of the annual PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature, Michael Cunningham, Deborah Eisenberg, Daniel Kehlmann (who wrote the introduction to the recently published An Ermine in Czernopol) and Edmund White will discuss Gregor von Rezzori and his Bukovina Trilogy: Memoirs of an Anti-Semite, The Snows of Yesteryear, and An Ermine in Czernopol, at the Museum of Jewish Heritage on Sunday, May 6th at 1 pm.
The talk will be moderated by our editor Edwin Frank, and will be of special interest to those fascinated both by foreign literature (particularly Central Europe) and the story of an area (Bukovina) increasingly split between the Romanian, Ukrainian, German, Russian, Polish, and Jewish inhabitants after the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Hanging over all the events and characters in the novels is the specter of the rise of the Nazis and the horrors to follow. If you book your tickets through our site as NYRB readers, you will get a $5 discount for the event!
“I treasure lovely images of my past in that part of the world. I will never find them elsewhere again. I have been back to the now-Russian part of the Bukovina twice. In both cases, I saw myself as a stranger looking backwards at a young man whom I distantly knew but who had very little to do with me.” - Gregor von Rezzori, in conversation with Andre Aciman in Salamagundi. For more on Rezzori check out BOMB Magazine, Issue 24, Summer 1988
Upcoming readings and discussions in New York, Boston and the Bay Area
Wednesday, April 25th at 6:00 pm
Victor Serge: Remembering a Revolutionary
With Michael Taussig, Ross Poole, and McKenzie Wark
at The New School, Wollman Hall, Eugene Lang Bldg, 65 West 11th Street, 5th Floor
Sunday, May 6th at 1:00 pm
Co-sponsored with PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature
A Place Out of Time: Gregor von Rezzori’s Bukovina Trilogy
with Michael Cunningham, Deborah Eisenberg, Daniel Kehlmann, and Edmund White; moderated by Edwin Frank.
Damion Searls will read from and discuss his English translation of Nescio’s Amsterdam Stories on both coasts in April and May
Tuesday, May 8th at 7:00 pm
City Lights Bookstore, San Francisco
with Peter Orner
Wednesday, May 9th at 7:00 pm
Co-sponsored by Books Inc and Palo Alto City Library
City of Palo Alto Library — Downtown Branch
Thursday, May 10th at 7:30 pm
Mrs. Dalloway’s Bookstore, Berkeley
with Jeroen Dewulf, Director of Dutch Studies Program, UC-Berkeley
Wednesday, May 23rd
Harvard Bookstore, Cambridge at 7:00 pm
Yesterday we also released Glenway Wescott’s masterful novella The Pilgrim Hawk. Here’s Edmund White on Wescott and The Pilgrim Hawk:
“When Wescott wrote his masterpiece, The Pilgrim Hawk, in 1940, [W. Somerset] Maugham (perhaps a bit envious) warned him,
You haven’t any business writing things like ‘The Pilgrim Hawk’…. You’ve got to choose right now. You can either be the American Cocteau, or you can be the American Trollope, and what you ought to do is be Trollope.
At the time, of course, Trollope was held in considerably less esteem than he is now and Cocteau was far better known than he is in 2008, though The Pilgrim Hawk is a tighter, more closely worked book than even Cocteau’s best novels, Les Enfants terribles (sometimes called in English The Holy Terrors ) and Thomas l’imposteur. In any event, Maugham’s comment was off the mark since Wescott was always more likely to achieve a Coctellian concision and epigrammatic wisdom than a Trollopian fluency and sociological breadth.
The Pilgrim Hawk is one of the neglected masterpieces of twentieth-century American literature. It was Wescott’s first novel set not in the Midwest but in France, though the characters are an American man and woman, her servants (a couple from Morocco), and a visiting Irish couple and their dashing chauffeur. Wescott is no longer writing about poor farmers but about rich idlers just before the Depression who have too much money and too much time on their hands.”