Death of a Man

Kay Boyle, Author, Burton Hatlen, Introduction by New Directions Publishing Corporation $21 (338p) ISBN 978-0-8112-1089-8
Boyle's memorable novel, first published in 1936 and long out of print, and set in the Austrian town of Feldbruck from February to July of 1934, is at once a love story and a chilling political drama. Romance blooms between Prochaska, the resident doctor at the town hospital's ward for infectious diseases, and Pendennis, a young, married American tourist. The attraction between the two is immediate and potent, but as their involvement deepens, Pendennis becomes aware of Prochaska's work for the Nazi party, which many Feldbruck citizens cling to in the hope that it will rescue Austria from economic depression. The lovers' clash is as emphatic as their affinity; as spring wears on, Pendennis's antipathy grows, until she declares to Prochaska that ``you take your orders, you swallow it all down along with your pride and your sense or whathaveyou! One day they're going to put a pretty little uniform on you . . . and say, `Now you run along to war, dear,' and won't that be a lot of fun?'' The collapse of the affair seems as inevitable as the tragic, impending war. The novel is reprinted here with an introduction in which Burton Hatlen of the University of Maine elucidates why Boyle's sympathetic view of Prochaska does not signify support of fascism, and with a brief, illuminating afterword by Boyle. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/30/1989
Release date: 05/01/1989
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