1. "For Gregor von Rezzori the past was not another country, it was several."

    In Gregor von Rezzori’s fiction, the end of childhood inevitably turns encounters with surroundings that are rich and strange into ‘routine interaction with the all-too-familiar.’ But the numinous experiences of childhood can be stored like treasures in the foundation of the soul as motifs or images that resurface with a sensation of secret recognition, of ‘déjà vu mingled with nostalgia’ when we come across pale reflections of them later in life. Mourning his lost ability to perceive the world with the rapture of his childhood, the Ermine’s narrator speculates that ‘[p]erhaps our soul is capable of little more than tracing the secret essence of these basic motifs through everything it encounters.’ Even if true, all is not inevitably lost as long as there are books like An Ermine in Czernopol and The Snows of Yesteryear to reverse, or at least suspend, the fossilization of adulthood by opening our eyes, like treasure maps to the glories of a lost era, to the mysterious core of the mundane.

    —Tess Lewis wrote a wonderful essay about Gregor von Rezzori’s world, both real and fictional, in the Spring 2012 issue of The Hudson Review. If you’re a Proust fan, definitely check out An Ermine in Czernopol.

  2. 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.

  3. A Place Out of Time - Gregor von Rezzori’s Bukovina Trilogy

    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