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The elusive narrator of this beautifully written, complex, and powerfully disconcerting novel is the scion of a decayed aristocratic family from the farther reaches of the defunct Austro-Hungarian Empire. In five psychologically fraught episodes, he revisits his past, from adolescence to middle age, a period that coincides with the twentieth century's ugliest years. Central to each episode is what might be called the narrator's Jewish Question. He is no Nazi. To the contrary, he is apolitical, accommodating, cosmopolitan. He has Jewish friends and Jewish lovers, and their Jewishness is a matter of abiding fascination to him. His deepest and most defining relationship may even be the strange dance of attraction and repulsion that throughout his life he has conducted with this forbidden, desired, inescapable, imaginary Jewish other. And yet it is just this relationship that has blinded him to--and makes him complicit in--the terrible realities of his era.Lyrical, witty, satirical, and unblinking, Gregor von Rezzori's most controversial work is an intimate foray into the emotional underworld of modern European history.
"For the first thirty-four years of my life I was exactly like everyone else, and while those years seemed compelling enough to me at the time, you would presumably not be reading a narrative entitled 'Memoirs of a Securities Analyst.' Anyway, right in the middle of my rather ordinary way through life, a minor but altogether extraordinary scientific mishap rendered a small spherical chunk of New Jersey utterly invisible. As chance would have it, I was at the critical moment included in that spherical chunk. I, together with my immediate surroundings, was instantly transformed: just as in a petrified fossil the structure of the original organism is exactly reduplicated as an arrangement of mineral particles, so my body was exactly reduplicated as a living structure of minute units of energy. It functions very much as before-- with, as far as I have been able to determine, only minor differences. But you cannot see it at all. "The point is that it could have been absolutely anyone. I know that each of us is utterly unique and so forth--like snowflakes or leaves. Although, as the wind scatters the proverbial generations of leaves to the ground, it can sometimes be hard to find much metaphysical comfort in one's own peculiarity. Anyway, no peculiarity of mine made it more likely that I should wind up in this condition than you. An improbable and very poor roll of the cosmic dice. God's eye was doubtless on the sparrow at the time. "Whereas I had my eye mainly on Anne Epstein...."
Hecate is the Greek goddess of sorcery, and Edmund Wilson's Hecate County is the bewitched center of the American Dream, a sleepy bedroom community where drinks flow endlessly and sexual fantasies fill the air. "Memoirs of Hecate County", Wilson's favorite among his many books, is a set of interlinked stories combining the supernatural and the satirical, astute social observation and unusual personal detail. But the heart of the book, "The Princess with the Golden Hair," is a starkly realistic novella about New York City, its dance halls and speakeasies and slums. So sexually frank that for years Wilson's book was suppressed. This story is one of the great lost works of twentieth-century American literature: an astringent, comic, ultimately devastating exploration of lust and love, how they do and do not overlap.
In this lush, compelling novel of passion and loss, Helen of Troy, a true survivor, tells the truth about her life, her lovers, and the Trojan War. This is the memoir that she has written--her legendary beauty still undimmed by age.Gossips began whispering about Princess Helen from the moment of her birth. A daughter of the royal house of Sparta, she was not truly the progeny of King Tyndareus, they murmured, but of Zeus, king of the gods. Her mother, Queen Leda, a powerful priestess, was branded an adulteress, with tragic consequences. To complicate matters, as Helen grew to adulthood her beauty was so breathtaking that it overshadowed even that of her jealous sister, Clytemnestra, making her even more of an outcast within her own family. So it came as something of a relief to her when she was kidnapped by Theseus, king of Athens, in a gambit to replenish his kingdom's coffers. But Helen fell in love with the much older Theseus, and to his surprise, he found himself enamored of her as well. On her forced return to Sparta, Helen was hastily married off to the tepid Menelaus for the sake of an advantageous political alliance. Yet even after years of marriage, the spirited, passionate Helen never became the docile wife King Menelaus desired, and when she fell in love with another man--Paris Alexandros, the prodigal son of King Priam of Troy--Helen unwittingly set the stage for the ultimate conflict: a war that would destroy nearly all she held dear.I learned that I was different when I was a very small girl: when the golden curls, which barely reached my shoulders at the time, began to turn the color of burnished vermeil. Your grandmother Leda, whom you never knew, told me that I was a child of Zeus. Since I thought my father's name was Tyndareus, her words upset me. Seeing my pink cheeks marred by tears of confusion, my mother handed me a mirror of polished bronze and asked me to study my reflection. "Do you look like me?" she asked.I nodded, noting in my own skin the exquisite fairness of her complexion, and her hair the same shade as mine that tumbled like flowing honey past the hollow of her back."And do you resemble my husband Tyndareus?" she said to me.I looked in the mirror and then looked again. For several minutes I remember expecting the mirror to show me my father's face, but Tyndareus was olive complected where I was not, his nose like the beak of a falcon where my own was straight and fine-boned, and his cheekbones were hollow and slack where, even then, beneath a child's rosy plumpness, mine were high and prominent."It's time for me to tell you everything," my mother said . . .--From The Memoirs of Helen of TroyFrom the Hardcover edition.
Lady Hyegyong's memoirs, which recount the chilling murder of her husband by his father, form one of the best known and most popular classics of Korean literature. From 1795 until 1805 Lady Hyegyong composed this masterpiece, depicting a court life Shakepearean in its pathos, drama, and grandeur. Presented in its social, cultural, and historical contexts, this first complete English translation opens a door into a world teeming with conflicting passions, political intrigue, and the daily preoccupations of a deeply intelligent and articulate woman. JaHyun Kim Haboush's accurate, fluid translation captures the intimate and expressive voice of this consummate storyteller. Reissued nearly twenty years after its initial publication with a new foreword by Dorothy Ko, The Memoirs of Lady Hyegyong is a unique exploration of Korean selfhood and an extraordinary example of autobiography in the premodern era.
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