The retreat

by Aharon Appelfeld

Other authorsDalya Bilu (Translator)
Hardcover, 1984





New York : Dutton, c1984.

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LibraryThing member John
I enjoyed Appelfeld's Badenheim 1939 many years ago, and this has a similar theme: reactions of Jews to the coming nightmare in Europe, but this one is more Kafkaesque with a group of Jews coming together in a mountain retreat dedicated to trying to eliminate their Jewishness through voice and manner training and physical exercise, though this has already fallen off as we enter the novel. The introduction describes Applefeld's theme as the folly of wilful blindness and the inability of the imagination to face reality. This is certainly true of the people in the retreat who embark on the impossible which they think they can achieve by denying their previous lives and existences, which of course leads them to completely miss and misunderstand the drift of society and the storm gathering over them. The signs are there, but they are evident in retrospect. Only the most far-sighted or sensitive, or courageous saw the direction and were able to act on their perceptions. The founder of the retreat dies having dissipated his success and wealth, suicides occur, and the world begins to close in on the group; but there is solidarity and support in the group and family. It just didn't come together for me.… (more)


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