every day to this day; Review The Glass Pearls – Brilliant Wartime Storytelling From Ginzburg and Pressburger | imagination

TThe great memoirist and story writer Tobias Wolf once complained about the “essentially anonymous” gestures used in fiction and dramatic literature to define characters: “mixing drinks, crossing rooms, lighting cigarettes.” The problem, he said, is that these details “don’t tell us much. What you want is a gesture that tells you something.”

It seems to me that Natalia Ginzburg is the lady of the gesture that tells you a certain thing. In her 1952 novel, All we had yesterday, the latest welcome edition to her work by Daunt Books, there are many, many characters, but each one is drawn with beautiful character. The father of one of the two main families writes his memoirs entitled Nothing but the truth, which “contained fiery attacks on the fascists and the king. The old man used to laugh and rub his hands together at the idea that the king and Mussolini knew nothing of it, while in a small town in Italy there was a man He writes fiery notes about them. Everyone gets this adorable treat: even the “curly and stupid” domestic dog.

The setting is in northern Italy in the 1930s, where the central character, 16-year-old Anna, navigates life and love through her family and that of the house opposite. The fabric of the story is home life – friendships rise and fall; Carry a marriage of convenience – but all the while the war began to cast a shadow on the blue sky.

Ginzburg’s brilliance is to present war as a background, and secondary topic of conversation, alluded to by Anna’s limited knowledge. However, it’s unbearable – her sister’s friend, Danilo, was imprisoned for spreading seditious literature – even when the effect is comical, such as the villagers’ refusal to take fascists seriously because they know one of them as the son of a local alchemist. “It would have been better for him to go back behind the table and weigh things on his little scale again.”

Sally Rooney, in her introduction to this edition, says she hopes new readers of Ginzburg will fall in love with her through All we had yesterday, but to me this is not a newcomer book in Ginsburg. The manner of the novel—long paragraphs, successive sentences, and little direct speech—and the way the story moves from one character to the next, and the perspectives intertwine like tiles on a roof, make the reading experience a dense, though rewarding one. The best place to start is with her articles Small Virtues or notes family dictionary.

Pushing the Boundaries: Emeric Pressburger. Photo: Ulstein Bild/Getty Images

Emeric Pressburger’s 1966 novel glass pearls, now re-released, is a completely different kind of war-themed fantasy novel. Pressburger is best known as half-screenwriting for one of the great film-making duos of the last century: along with Michael Powell, he produced masterpiece after masterpiece in the 1940s, from The life and death of Colonel Blimp to me red shoes.

glass pearlsHis second novel, his second novel, is structurally less creative than his on-screen work: it’s a fairly straightforward suspense story. Where the novelty comes in—which is thought to have contributed to the book’s failure when it was first published—is that the central character, whose hopes the reader must pin down for the narrative to succeed, is a fugitive war criminal.

It’s 1965 and Karl Braun – formerly Dr. Otto Rietmüller – lives down the line in London, making a living as a pianist. His location in rented lodgings gives the writers the ambiance of a classic domestic novel, where lives twist together: in Braun’s case, he meets other German immigrants, who they assume escaped from Hitler as they did (and in fact Pressberger himself). In fact, Brown was a Nazi doctor, who zealously experimented with concentration camp prisoners. (“Another part of their brain was cut off.”)

If it seemed that Brown did not regret the atrocities he had committed, he was at least psychologically traumatized by the death of his wife and child, who were killed in Operation Gomorra, the Allied bombing of Hamburg in July 1943. His mental balance began to turn. : Finding himself the number one target of the German authorities, he becomes more and more paranoid about the informants, distrusting his lover, and finally decides to flee to safety in Argentina.

Pressburger doesn’t make us want Braun to succeed entirely, but it expertly heightens the tension so we simply have to figure out what a well-earned outcome lies ahead, as Braun comes close to escaping Europe and justice and at the same time learns more about how close they are to Europe. catch him. this is It is a welcome republishing of Faber Editions, a series best known for its modernist titles and underrepresented voices. As an advanced lesson in the pure fun of storytelling, glass pearls Its re-release may be the most radical yet.

  • All we had yesterday Written by Natalia Ginsburg and published by The Books House (£10.99). to support guardian And the observer Request your copy at guardianbookshop.com. Delivery charges may apply

  • glass pearls By Emeric Pressburger Posted by Faber (£8.99). to support guardian And the observer Request your copy at guardianbookshop.com. Delivery charges may apply

Leave a Comment

%d bloggers like this: