This short novella is a superbly crafted atmospheric character study of the Anschluss. Written with the feel of a screenplay it combines rich description with particularly lyrical delivery. It captures the emotion and psychological temper of the Order of the Day with chosen looks back and forwards to situate the action in the larger arc of time.
Simply a treat and highly recommended.
Completed a second read and enjoyed just as much.
I think that further comment is necessary.
This is a somewhat experimental work in nature and I like the experiment.
Is this history. Definitely not. IS anything history and historically accurate – that’s the big question.
IS this the newly christened genre of ‘Faction’?? Hmmm. It is a fictional essay hung various historically noted events and characters.
My initial read was that of cinematographic or stageplay delivery. This didn’t change. It is evocative and environmental. The characters are explored in ways that they themselves may not have been able to know themselves. In that it’s fictional. Plausible, but who can really know. I love this.
There is little doubt that the author consulted a variety of historically verifiable sources to craft this tale. He often even notes these during his performance. However, for me what he accomplishes is raises a large question around what we can really know of history (sources primary, secondary, tertiary or otherwise) may have the intent to be ‘true’ to themselves but intentionally coloured by experience and context. Who can really know and why should we worry?
My sense is that Vuillard is throwing this out there as a provocation as much as anything else. He has crafted performance by historically inspired characters around generally accepted events. He paints vividly and is unconstrained by what we could actually know – but never claims otherwise.
There are reflections on what these historical events may help us to learn about the fluidity and imply about circumstantial sleepwalking into political disaster, but this is left for the reader to deduce and conclude for themself.
The role of the translator is the remaining question mark for me. I didn’t read this as written by the author. The translator may impart some influence. If anything though for me was positive and this is a treat. History with real characters that I can know – warts, foibles and all. OFten things that traditional delivery cannot deliver.