- Paperback: 304 pages
- Publisher: Vintage (January 30, 1991)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0679731822
- ISBN-13: 978-0679731825
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.3 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 27 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,879,687 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Memoirs of an Anti-Semite: A Novel in Five Stories Paperback – January 30, 1991
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Set in Central Europe between World Wars I and II, this work comprises five interrelated stories that depict one man's ambivalent, at times obsessive, relations with Jewish friends and lovers--including his Jewish wife.
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This is told from the perspective of a privileged kid growing-up to manhood in that period over the post WW I period.
The anti-semitism is very much tongue in cheek. There are no bullying brown or black shirted morons here.Not yet, at least.
However, the author does show how anti-antisemitism was ingrained in the Christian mind set and considered to be an unthinking natural state among the populations of many countries in central Europe in that period.
For me there was an awful feeling of doom as Jewish friends of the author discussed their future plans having no inkling that they were already doomed to live through and die in the horrors to come.
The book is rich in character and colour.
If you need answers as to what Middle Europe was really like then and how a passive antisemitism paved the way for full blooded genocide, read this. Hitler wasn't the only anti-semite in Europe. We all were, God help us!
Is he is what he claims to be, or there is some quite not true and made up in his story?
You see the story it's narrated in the first person, using his supposed real name, and family members, if the story it's a novelistic construct, so also the claims about his personal life, may be false, or phoney, but if it's not, Von Rezzori, will not be the kind of person you could choose him as a friend, or someone you want to be associated, and even less, look up to, even if liking, and admiring his superb prose style.
And yes I will read more of him just to find out what sort of person he may be, and what other yarns he may concoct, even if disagreeing with his personal moral character, of course you do not need to like someone, or be an apologist of their life, in order to like his writing style.
Though we only see actual Nazis in the next-to-last story, their appeal to the narrator and his Gentile cohorts is made clear -- while crass and vulgar, they once again offer an organizing force to their world, adrift since 1918. The Jews, however, are the one group too different to fit in to this new order, and disdain for them is a terrific uniter of others across class and ethnic lines, much as anti-Black racism appealed to poor whites in the American South. The narrator has suffered just enough perceived "humiliations" at the hands of Jews, and absorbed just enough resentment and disdain for them throughout his upbringing, that their fate just doesn't bother him too much, until it's far too late (and even then, the reader is left unsure how much it really bothers him). An amazing portrait of how genocide and tyranny happen not because of a few fanatics -- they will always exist -- but because enough ordinary people become apathetic.