Sunday, March 26, 1995

The Reprieve

by Jean-Paul Sartre
translated by Eric Sutton

The second volume of the Roads of Freedom. It is a completely original, intricately planned masterwork. The narration of the novel shifts frantically back and forth from character to place to first person, all without warning, once even going into the head of a dead man (he died secure in the knowledge that WWI was the last war). This duplicates the confusion and frantic anxiety everyone was feeling as the Germans demanded Czechoslovakia. Often, two scenes that parallel each other are shown intertwined, to great effect. Perhaps the most powerful of these was the final scene, when the taking/rape of Czechoslovakia shifted and corresponded with the taking/rape of Ivich. And beyond matters of style, it was fascinating to read about the war years from a totally European perspective, a book in which America is mentioned (I believe) once. It really was an utterly European concern. A great book, a classic.

five stars

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