Panorama: Book summary and reviews of Panorama by H. G. Adler

Panorama

A Novel

by H. G. Adler

Panorama by H. G. Adler X
Panorama by H. G. Adler
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  • Published Jan 2011
    480 pages
    Genre: Literary Fiction

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Book Summary

Published for the first time in English, Panorama is a superb rediscovered novel of the Holocaust by a neglected modern master. One of a handful of death camp survivors to fictionalize his experiences in German, H. G. Adler is an essential author--referenced by W. G. Sebald in his classic novel Austerlitz, and a direct literary descendant of Kafka.

When The Journey was discovered in a Harvard bookshop and translated by Peter Filkins, it began a major reassessment of the Prague-born H. G. Adler by literary critics and historians alike. Known for his monumental Theresienstadt 1941–1945, a day-by-day account of his experiences in the Nazi slave-labor community before he was sent to Auschwitz, Adler also wrote six novels. The very depiction of the Holocaust in fiction caused furious debate and delays in their publication. Now Panorama, his first novel, written in 1948, is finally available to convey the kinds of truths that only fiction can.

A brilliant epic, Panorama is a portrait of a place and people soon to be destroyed, as seen through the eyes of young Josef Kramer. Told in ten distinct scenes, it begins in pastoral Word War I–era Bohemia, where the boy passively witnesses the "wonders of the world" in a thrilling panorama display; follows him to a German boarding school full of creeping xenophobia and prejudice; and finds him in young adulthood sent to a labor camp and then to one of the infamous extermination camps, before he chooses exile abroad after the war. Josef's philosophical journey mirrors the author’s own: from a stoic acceptance of events to a realization that "the viewer is also the participant" and that action must be taken in life, if only to make sure the dead are not forgotten.

Achieving a stream-of-consciousness power reminiscent of James Joyce and Gertrude Stein, H. G. Adler is a modern artist with unique historical importance. Panorama is lasting evidence of both the torment of his life and the triumph of his gifts.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"[T]he long, clause-heavy sentences feel clunky in translation and make this book more fascinating as a treasure of cultural and literary history than as a purely narrative read." - Publishers Weekly

"[I]n part, the beauty of this work is that it can't be easily categorized: it's not quite a bildungsroman; it's delightfully if erratically satirical; it's hauntingly bleak yet possesses echoes of the transcendent. This is an important book by an author who deserves not to be forgotten." - Booklist

"The novel's streaming consciousness and verbal play invite comparison with Joyce, the individual-dwarfing scale of law and prohibition brings Kafka to mind, and there is something in the hypnotic pulse of the prose that is reminiscent of Gertrude Stein." - The New York Times Book Review

"A tribute to the survival of art and a poignant teaching in the art of survival. I tend to shy away from Holocaust fiction, but this book helps redeem an all-but-impossible genre." - Harold Bloom

This information about Panorama was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. 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 they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream 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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