An Offering for the Dead

Hans Erich Nossack, Author, Joachim Neugroschel, Translator Marsilio Publishers $19 (124p) ISBN 978-0-941419-29-1
Jean-Paul Sartre considered Nossack (1901-1976) one of the great German existentialists, and this hypnotic short novel indeed testifies to an extraordinary artistic sensibility. An unexplained catastrophe has stripped an unnamed city-and most likely the world-of all inhabitants except for the narrator, who wanders its silent streets. Without relationships to others, he has lost himself, and he finds that his dreams and musings hold more clues to his identity than does his waking life. His memories escape individual experience and dive into archetype, so that what Nossick ultimately presents is a mythopoetic history. A disciplined prose style wards off authorial self-indulgence, always a risk with this kind of visionary or apocalyptic fiction. Giving the novel another, more urgent aspect, the publisher explains that most of Nossack's manuscripts were destroyed in the Allied bombings of the author's native Hamburg in 1943; An Offering for the Dead was first published in 1947. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/28/1992
Release date: 10/01/1992
Paperback - 124 pages - 978-0-941419-28-4
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