Today’s New York Times/International Herald Tribune carries a review of H.G. Adler’s The Journey, a book that I wrote about briefly several months ago. Written in the early 1950s and originally published in 1962, The Journey tells a story much like Adler’s own Holocaust experience (he lost 18 members of his own family, including his parents, and barely survived himself). Nevertheless, according to reviewer Richard Lourie, this is “not a book of hopelessness and meaninglessness.”
“The truth is merciless,…always victorious.” Adler informs us, pointing the way to a means of surviving the worst that history can throw at people: “One must have a center, an unshakable quiet space that one clings to vigorously, even when one is in the middle of the journey, the unavoidable journey.”
For information about Theresienstadt for his book Austerlitz, W.G. Sebald turned to Adler’s monumental study Theresienstadt 1941-1945. Das Antlitz einer Zwangsgemeinschaft. Geschichte, Soziologie, Psychologie. The Journey is the first of six novels by Adler (1910-1988) to be translated into English. The Times has also put the opening part of the first chapter online.
Thus we remain in flight, there is no rest for us but the interior that we remember…
By the way, translator Peter Filkins will be reading from The Journey on February 10 at 4 p.m. at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He will also read from Adler’s novel at 6 p.m. on February 11 at the Goethe-Institut of Chicago. Filkins teaches at Bard College at Simon’s Rock in Great Barrington, MA.