The first English-language translation of the memoirs of Hans Keilson, one of Europe’s most masterful and remarkable writers
In this unique work, which was composed in the 1990s and only recently rediscovered, Keilson brings back a bygone era in snapshots from a life spanning one hundred years. The external stations of this life — his youth in Brandenburg, his student years and the fast life in Berlin, his exile in Holland, his survival in hiding, and the loss of his parents — are framed by economic crisis, anti-Semitism, and war, but also by friendship, music, and hope. Hans Keilson reveals these themes in gentle, quizzical reflections and fragments, producing an unforgettable portrait of his time.
The memoir is followed by a beguiling conversation about Keilson’s one hundred years of living and writing. It provides an incomparable insight into the man whom The New York Times recently hailed as ‘one of the world’s very greatest writers’.
'[A] brief, albeit intense, memoir of [Keilson's] early years growing up first in Weimar Germany and then Holland as a Jewish exile. What impresses most is Keilson's evocation of home. There is almost something of a Salvator Rosa landscape about his dramatic descriptions of his native Freienwalde in Brandenburg.'
Simon Hughes, Australian Financial Review
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'Keilson is a highly intelligent, focused observer ... an idiosyncratic medley of memory and factual detail, emotion and thought, is what makes this book distinctive.'
Mark Thomas, Canberra Times
'An inspirational memoir of beauty and realism.'
Angela Smith, Courier Mail
'Clear and elegant ... While they take a matter-of-fact and occasionally wry tone, these memoirs also have an elegiac quality. These are things, [Keilson] observes, "that came into my head before I fell asleep and that I wanted to hold on to". For Keilson, life in pre-war Germany is a lost time, populated by people who are no more; a time that to be remembered clearly, must be written down.'
Ben Walter, Sunday Tasmanian