The Journey: Book summary and reviews of The Journey by H.G. Adler

The Journey

A Novel

by H.G. Adler

The Journey by H.G. Adler X
The Journey by H.G. Adler
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  • Published in USA  Nov 2008
    320 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

A major literary event: the first-ever English translation of a lost masterpiece of Holocaust literature by acclaimed author and survivor H. G. Adler

The story behind the story of The Journey is remarkable in itself: Award-winning translator Peter Filkins discovered an obscure German novel in a Harvard Square bookstore and, reading it, realized that it was a treasure unavailable to English speakers. It was the most powerful book by the late H. G. Adler, a survivor of Theresienstadt and Auschwitz, a writer whose work had been praised by authors from Elias Canetti to Heinrich Böll and yet remained unknown to international audiences.

Written in 1950 after Adler’s emigration to England, The Journey was not released in Germany until 1962. After the war, larger publishing houses stayed away from novels about the Holocaust, feeling that the tragedy could not be fictionalized and that any metaphorical interpretation was obscene. Only a small publisher was in those days willing to take on The Journey.

Yet Filkins found that Adler had depicted the event in a unique, truly modern, and deeply moving way. Avoiding specific mention of country or camps – even of Nazis and Jews – The Journey is a lyrical nightmare of a family’s ordeal and one member’s survival. Led by the doctor patriarch Leopold, the Lustig family finds itself "forbidden" to live, uprooted into a surreal and incomprehensible circumstance of deprivation and death. This cataclysm destroys father, daughter, sister, and wife and leaves only Paul, the son, to live again among those who saved or sacrificed him. The Journey reveals a world beset by an “epidemic of mental illness . . . As a result of the epidemic, everyone was crazy, and once they finally recognized what was happening it was too late.”

Linked by its innovative style to the work of James Joyce and Virginia Woolf, The Journey is as much a revelation as other recent discoveries on the subject as the works of W. G. Sebald and Irène Némirovsky’s Suite Francaise. It is a book proving that art can portray the unimaginable and expand people’s perceptions of it, a work anyone interested in recent history and modern literature must read.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"It's a difficult, admirable undertaking, for fans of experimental fiction, but many readers will find its structure frustrating and inaccessible." - Publishers Weekly.

"There is great beauty in this writing, though general readers will find it difficult to follow. The text has been masterfully translated by Filkins, who provides an essential introduction." - Library Journal.

"Oblique, extraordinarily ambitious attempt to articulate the unspeakable." - Kirkus Reviews.

This information about The Journey shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

H.G. Adler Author Biography

H. G. Adler was the author of twenty-six books of fiction, poetry, philosophy, and history. A survivor of the Holocaust, Adler later settled in England and began writing novels about his experience. Working as a freelance writer and teacher throughout his life, Adler died in London in 1988.

Peter Filkins (translator of both Panorama and The Journey) is an acclaimed translator and the recipient of a Berlin Prize fellowship in 2005 from the American Academy in Berlin, among other honors. He teaches writing and literature at Bard College at Simon’s Rock in Great Barrington, Massachusetts.

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