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The Journey: A Novel (Modern Library Classics) Paperback – September 8, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this ambitious and challenging rediscovery, originally published in 1962, Adler (1910–1988) relates the tragic tale of the Lustig family—doctor Leopold; his wife, Caroline; their children, Zerlina and Paul; and Caroline's sister, Ida—who are sent to the walled city of Ruhenthal after authorities label them forbidden. Taking place during an unspecified period of war and genocide, the story is based on Adler's experiences at Theresienstadt, a labor camp where he was imprisoned for two and a half years during WWII. An unidentified narrator reports the Lustigs' struggles in a stream-of-consciousness style, diverging frequently into the lives of others, among them Johann, a street sweeper, and Balthazar, a reporter. Attempting to reproduce authentically the characters' nightmarish disorientation, Adler's narrative style is aggressively abstract—constantly shifting subjects and setting in a convoluted sense of time and sequence. It's a difficult, admirable undertaking, for fans of experimental fiction, but many readers will find its structure frustrating and inaccessible. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From School Library Journal

This unusual and noteworthy novel is a fictional account by a German-speaking Jew who survived the Holocaust. Adler (1910–88) was born in Prague and was imprisoned in Theresienstadt (Ruhenthal) and Auschwitz. In his wanderings after the war, he later came to consider himself a freelancer and teacher. The story, if such a diffuse presentation may be called that, follows the Lustig family from their internment by the Germans until the demise of every member but one. Adler (Theresienstadt, 1941–1945: The Face of a Slave Society) employs a kind of montage, eschewing a straightforward narrative. Jeremy Adler, the author's son, provides an afterword in which he explains, "As with a ballad, the book contains the refrainlike repetition of numerous central motifs." There is great beauty in this writing, though general readers will find it difficult to follow. The text has been masterfully translated by Filkins, who provides an essential introduction. The German text of the novel is from a 1999 reissue by Zsolnay Verlag. Strongly recommended for all Holocaust collections.—Edward Cone, New York
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Series: Modern Library Classics
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Modern Library (September 8, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812978315
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812978315
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #652,494 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Roger Brunyate TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 8, 2011
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Written in 1950, published in Germany in 1962 (overcoming orchestrated opposition from the German publishing establishment), but appearing in English only in 2008, THE JOURNEY occupies an important and unique place in Holocaust literature. According to the translator, Peter Filkins, it is one of only four books of fiction written in German by Jewish survivors of the camps. And among the hundreds of Holocaust novels published since, it must be the only one with its particular point of view, located neither in time nor place (the word "Auschwitz," for instance, never appears), but in a kind of bird's eye view from above, as a continuous journey of the soul unmarked by obvious way-stages, even that of ultimate extinction. In his brilliant introduction, which is essential reading before attempting the book, Filkins cites Hölderlin speaking of a "synoptic view across the barrier of death," a slow-motion Totentanz that defies time.

At one point, Adler evokes the image of a line of prisoners, hands on the shoulders of the one in front, shuffling along day and night, a "mute ghost train in no need of tracks to run on." Were this to be taken to its conclusion, he says, "time would be erased. The journey would have only a direction, but no destination. It would continue and yet lead nowhere. Senseless would be the question about where you were born, for the day of your death could come long before the day of your conception." Where other Holocaust writers portray Hell, Adler concentrates on Limbo. Such story as there is in the book is a thin fictionalization of his own family history, spending much of the war in Theresienstadt,* the so-called "safe community" for Jews, in which they were kept in suspended animation for several years before the inevitable transportation to Auschwitz.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Marianne Makman, M.D. on March 29, 2011
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This long lost novel is totally unique in the annals of Holocaust literature. It, in veiled and novelistically transformed manner, tells the author's own tale of descent into the madness of WW II, various concentration and labor camps, and ultimate survival and re-emergence into the world of the living. His poetic style enables one to experience the disorientation and near-madness resulting from total dehumanization by a group of others. I cannot recommend it more highly.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Stuart on March 7, 2011
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Art is not dead after Auschwitz; Adler proves it in an intellectually compelling way. The style of narration is as challenging as the subject-matter. Journey is a work for those who can read.
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By Maria Circelli on July 26, 2015
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This.book is a haunting story of the persecution of the Jewish people during Hitler's reign of terror. The imagery and symbolism implied lets you know what was happening without directly stating it. The meaning and value of.life is elevated to its rightful.place in the midst of tragedy and loss as portrayed in this story. It is a literary masterpiece.
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