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10 thoughts on “Europe Central

  1. says:

    Vollmann’s language is rich and strawberry cream creamy language that without too much ado could be transcribed into TS Elliot style poetry since his themes hit on damaged humanity the power of history and fragmentation and that’s fragmentation as in Dada as in Hannah Höch and John Heartfield photomontage a form of art Adolf Hitler especially despised And with this uote from Mein Kampf “I go the way that

  2. says:

    Thank You Bill for Another God Almighty TomeAn Interpolation Upon an Enuiry by Steven MooreNow it’s for saleDon’t be deterredThis thousand page Half million word War effort hadTo be contrivedIn breath takingLarge scale detailSo it could beDesired asA maximal Unholy grail We college gradsAnd desk bound malesNow type awayInside t

  3. says:

    The majority of my symphonies are tombstones ― Dmitry Shostakovich in William T Vollmann Europe Central We have a Motherland and they have a Fatherland Their child is Europe Central― William T Vollmann Europe C

  4. says:

    455If you have no interest at all in learning massive amounts about World War II this book is not for you As a mat

  5. says:

    Recommended for Vollmanniacs music history lovers The majority of my symphonies are tombstones D D Shostakovich Eu

  6. says:

    This is a rewarding read about the conflict between the regimes of Hitler and Stalin over the fate of Europe in World War 2 told from

  7. says:

    ”All magic spells fail without belief We enforced belief” Europe Central is another monstrous book from Vollmann; monstrous in size content language implications critiue of humanity world historical analysis Let’s get something out of the way at the outset This book is a masterpiece horrifying painfully beautiful profound; if you’re a writer you wish you could have written this; and no one could have written this book in these ea

  8. says:

    Put down on p221 I hesitate to write any sort of review as I decided not to carry on which is rare for me I have not for this reason

  9. says:

    A Thunderous Urgency Rumbles Through this Novel How Murder Could Seem a MercyIn his 2005 National Book Award winn

  10. says:

    Europe Central William T Vollmann’s most popularly successful book 1280 gr ratings 165 reviews average starrage 388 conferrer of integrity upon the National Book Award for Fiction 2005 translated into German Italian Spanish French and Serbian not too badA few thoughts in my minor keyReading Europe Central after Vollmann’s new

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Free read ç PDF, DOC, TXT, eBook or Kindle ePUB free ï William T. Vollmann

Europe centrale Wikivoyage le guide de voyage et de L'Europe centrale est une rgion formant le cœur de l'EuropeIl comprend les pays de langue allemande uatre anciens tats membres du Pacte de Varsovie ui ont rejoint l'Union europenne et la Slovnie ancienne rpubliue yougoslave maintenant un membre de l'UESeule la Suisse et le Liechtenstein ne sont pas minuscule tats membres de l'UE mais partagent des liens conomiues et Europe centrale Wikipdia L'Europe centrale est la rgion s'tendant au cœur du continent europenElle dsigne un espace dont les contours flous et variables ne concident pas toujours avec les frontires des pays concerns D'aprs les dfinitions variant tant selon les auteurs ue les poues cin vingt et un tats actuels peuvent tre considrs comme centreuropens Europe centrale dfinition de Europe centrale et L'Europe centrale est la rgion d'Europe situe entre l'Europe de l'Est et l'Europe de l'OuestElle reprsente un centre historiue de l'Europe ne pas confondre avec son centre gographiue ui se situe mi chemin entre l'ocan Atlantiue et les monts Oural Visiter les capitales de l'Europe Centrale Vire Malin Vous souhaitez visiter l’Europe central retrouvez ici l’ensemble de mes articles pour dcouvrir Prague Vienne Budapest Berlin Conscient ue certaines villes ne font pas partie de l’Europe centrale je les ai uand mme insr ici J’espre ue ces articles vous aideront organiser votre voyage facilement Dans chaue article retrouvez les parties ue visiter comment Pouruoi les pays d’Europe centrale ont mieux rsist au Pouruoi les pays d’Europe centrale ont mieux rsist au Covid ENUTE Plusieurs facteurs expliuent la faible propagation du virus en Autriche et dans les pays de l’Est Interpierre Europe Centrale cette SCPI ui promet de La socit civile de placement immobilier Interpierre Europe Centrale est la premire SCPI tre exclusivement investie sur cette partie du Vieux continent Son objectif dgager un Europe Central by William T Vollmann Goodreads William Vollman's Europe Central was for me a very slow burn I spent the first two hundred pages of this sprawling kaleidescopic epic on the emotional sidelines wryly observant interested but not overly engaged Vollman's charact. Thank You Bill for Another God Almighty TomeAn Interpolation Upon an Enuiry by Steven MooreNow it s for saleDon t be deterredThis thousand page Half million word War effort hadTo be contrivedIn breath takingLarge scale detailSo it could beDesired asA maximal Unholy grail We college gradsAnd desk bound malesNow type awayInside the whaleSo that we canAll adulateThe moral scope Of Vollmann s taleHence we honourIts mighty lengthAnd shower itWith lavish praise A Novel Calculus Europe Central followed closely on the heels of Rising Up and Rising Down Vollmann s analysis of the moral calculus of violencePart of the non fiction work applied the calculus to the specific circumstances of several persons of interestThis novel assuming that is a correct descriptor takes real life peopleparticipants and uses them to construct a narrative about real life events most of which are the most pivotal events of the twentieth centuryIt is a huge and hugely ambitious creative and interpretative exercise if not necessarily or strictly only an exercise in fictionIt has in common with a documentary re enactment than most literary fiction Like a documentary we might know some or all of the facts what matters is how the issues are personalised and presented to us I suppose that when one dedicates oneself sincerely enough to anything one personalises itYou can think of this novel as a panoramic film in full technicolorNone of this is intended as a criticism If there is any meaningful role for Post Modernism one would be to blur the distinction between fiction and realityFictionalised HistoryThe historical aspects of the novel are thoroughly researched by Vollmann and his assistants shades of Andy Warhol and therefore presumably reliable except where he identifies otherwise in the notes and comments or where he allows himself the freedom of historical or moral judgementYou don t need to have much or any prior knowledge of the events portrayed in the novel to appreciate their significance or the writing Vollmann places us in the heart of the relevant action All we have to respect is the importance of these events in world history If there ever comes a time when their primacy fades may the gods help civilisation on earthThat said in the fictional aspects of the reconstruction Vollmann can t help but inject a few of his own preoccupations against the historical evidence and it is here that the novel is weakest and occasionally most gratuitous but of that later It is a relatively minor personal gripe and one that didn t ultimately detract from my enjoyment of the novelDoppelg nger States Non Fraternal Non Identical TwinsThe narrative structure of Europe Central explores a parallelism between World War II Germany and the Soviet UnionPretty soon you realise that there is little difference in the social and personal dynamics in each nation despite their vastly different socio political systems Ultimately they are both well ordered zones Centralised power works the same way everywhere Vollmann recognises that this point has already been made by Vassily Grossman in his novel Life and FateHitlerStalin wield absolute power with limited input by those around them Nobody is prepared to uestion or contradict them for fear of reprisal and reprisal means death In the case of Germany Fate has sent Germany a great genius Adolf Hitler We must obey his willIn the case of Stalin It s not enough to love Soviet power Soviet power must also love youHitlerStalin take ultimate responsibility for everything Vision strategy tactics execution Especially executionGargantuan and Panzercruel StruggleOnce Hitler revoked the Non Aggression Pact in June 1941 Germany and the Soviet Union were destined to fight to the death if not with the assistance of allies then alone The success of one state and political system would inevitably mean the extinguishment of the otherGermany had conuered most of continental Europe Britain was under attack The United States had not entered the warChurchill was reluctant to start a new western front on the continent forcing Stalin to fight off Hitler without support If Germany had prevailed it would have meant the end of Communism However if the Soviet Union could prevail it would mean the end of Fascism The Anglo American nations thought they could sit back and wait for the resultCapitalism Tries to Crash the PartyOnly when Stalin got the upper hand at Stalingrad and started the march to Berlin did the Allies realise that they would lose Europe to Soviet Communism if they didn t initiate Operation Overlord at Normandy The Soviets have a Motherland and the Germans have a Fatherland Their child is Europe CentralCommunism in Europe would have meant the loss of a market for Anglo American goods and services on the continent Normandy occurred only when it became necessary to protect capitalist interestsThus Normandy wasn t primarily one part of a two pronged attack on Germany but a preemptive attempt to avoid the global revolution that might have resulted from the successful self defence of the Soviet UnionFirelit RaptureVollmann personalises the moral issues by focussing on the lives and dilemmas of a number of key players on both sides of the ideological divide Ironically both Fascism and Communism purported to usher in a new cultural era one which in the words of Heidegger would reuire the old to be burned in order to make way for the new The Volk the People the Proletariat looked on in firelit raptureVollmann explains the moral purpose of the novel in terms of parable These stories are not as rigorously grounded in historical fact as my Seven Dreams books Rather the goal here was to write a series of parables about famous infamous and anonymous European moral actors at moments of decision Some of the protagonists are military others are creative musicians sculptors poets and translatorsUnder both ideologies individual freedom is compromised ostensibly in the interests of the collective This might be understandable in the context of the war effort or attempts to defend against a civil war or rebuff a counter revolution However arguably it would not be tolerable in a modern western pluralistic democracy during a time of peaceAnswering the CallVollmann uses the black cabled tentacles of the cephalopodic telephone network not just as a vehicle for communication but as a symbol of the centralisation of political culture and the enforcement of social conformityTotalitarianism emphasises collective duty at the expense of personal liberty Vollmann speculates that people start to content themselves with the role of servant rather than aspiring to be their own master To regard the fulfillment of duty rather than personal responsibility as the highest virtue indicates a primal need for yielding oneself upIn the armed forces there are command structures that ensure that obedience to authority occurs subject now to the rejection of the Nuremberg defence Civilians are safe as long as they keep their head down and don t transgressHowever intellectuals and artists are the most problematical They tend to be individualistic and non conformist Vollmann shows us two cultures and contexts in which individualists must bow to the collective or face dire conseuences Thus we see Socialist Realism being imposed in the Soviet Union while in Germany we see the Nazis attacking Degenerate Art At least in wartime outliers are pulled back into the herd Those who won t or don t comply are ostracised abandoned exiled andor liuidatedShostakovich s Threat to Cultural HarmonyRepresentative of the creative dilemma is the composer Shostakovich In the absence of words you would think that music would be harder to judge in terms of ideological conformity However Shostakovich s formal innovation sees him described as a selfish and anti democratic individualist a free spirit a formalist a revisionist a right wing deviationist This gets to the root of what makes intellectuals dangerous We use them to add newness to life which is what keeps it bearable but newness shouldn t mutate into utter alienationDespite his popularity with the public Shostakovich becomes alienated from authority He fails to toe the Party line He is seen as preoccupied with the expression of self His compositions are out of harmony with the remainder of the Party credentialled fraternity His works are doubly dissonant and disharmoniousWhistle Blower to the HolocaustOne of the German parallels to Shostakovich is the SS officer Kurt Gerstein a technician who leaks to the Church and the Swiss Consul evidence of the methods of the Holocaust that he is partly responsible for administering It s not disclosed just how much reliable intelligence the West acuired about the Holocaust before the end of the War Whatever the West took no credible action Gerstein s whistle blowing attempts weren t appreciated and tragically for him did not avoid the death penalty being imposed on him by the AlliesImaginary Love TrianglesPerhaps Vollmann s greatest creative contribution to the historical narrative is his extrapolation of the sex lives of several of the protagonists In most cases he acknowledges that his speculation is pure fiction Indeed he posits that the key emotional and sexual relationship between Shostakovich and Elena continued throughout the rest of their lives notwithstanding common ground that it lasted only for a short period relatively early in their livesDespite the amount of space devoted to Shostakovich I think Elena is the pre eminent character of the novel In many ways Europe Central is the story of a woman if not the women of Europe Europa ist Elena berhaupt She is one third of two separate love triangles one a heterosexual relationship with two males and the other a lesbian relationship with two womenVollmann s women occupy numerous roles they oscillate between Joan of Arc virgin whore artist activist translator partisan judge and executioner Do you ever feel that there s a woman somewhere at the centre of things a goddessMen are trapped in their world of power and aggression Vollmann represents women as some kind of way out a pathway to individual authenticity His design for the novel might even be similar to Shostakovich s perception of his music It s abouthow love could have been if the world weren t full of vile thingsI sometimes feel that my love for her is the only thing that s genuine about meLove and DeathThis exploration of love as well as tenderness balances the overwhelming detail about the war in the novelHowever it also contributes a nuanced tone to Vollmann s normal subject matter and styleOf course Vollmann being Vollmann he occasionally goes overboard in how he deals with the sexual subject matter At times it just seemed to be gratuitous For example I couldn t work out how uite explicit private acts between the protagonists could be related by the voyeuristic agent Comrade Alexandrov even though as far as I could determine he can t possibly have witnessed them I assume he wasn t just sexing up the security filesStill my concerns about this aspect of the writing didn t detract from the substance of the novel my enjoyment of it or a sense that it deserved both the National Book Award and five starsDon t let the war setting or the length of the novel deter you This is one of the great novels about the twentieth centuryADDED EXTRASAbandoned Draft First ParagraphEven then there was something about the nameless Asian girl Ah Kum Elena which rendered her an object of respect obsessive desire A young girl with jet black reddish blonde bangs it was she who returned his wallet manhood to him In the hallway of their apartment building he kissed her cheeks lips nipples He wanted to tell her that her earlobes breasts were as white and sweet as saccharin Viasma gingerbread Minutes later in her bedroom his manhood love agony and strangely erotic pain detonated inside her him Something came alive in the next room It was her the suat black mother phone suid octopus The god of the Signal CorpsTischfernsprecher Schwarzes Bakelitgeh useApologies to Van MorrisonWilliam we were downOn our knees in the daysBefore rock and rollhttpswwwyoutubecomwatchva2GpETreaty of VersaillesA vindictive peaceMakes for an even worse warThe next time aroundIron GripThe dictator ofA state under siege grips itLike a drowning manSoldier with a CameraOne can representUs all just as well as theWhole contains the oneLust in TranslationYou mustn t DesistFor I insistThat you ll be WitchedBy thisFunnyCunni LinguisticTrystBetwixtLina andElenaGender CentralVera Lina Nina ElenaEurope is womanDelicious as gingerbreadJust like ElenaZoyaRussia was ZoyaBetween the breasts of ZoyaIt won its freedomPost Modern Self Assessment by the AuthorYou besmirch yourselfWith ugly behavior thenSpeak beautiful wordsExegesisBasic formatNice exampleOf uotationFollowed by anExplanationLeading to someExcitationAnd a starryIncantationRounded off withAnnotationFootnote endnoteIbid op citUnd so weiterBill Vollmann Interviewed by Tony Dushane for Bookslut You know in Europe Central it s too easy just to say Oh the Nazis were terrible the Stalinists were awful And that s true but where do you go from there If you can realize the deeper truth which is not only that were they terrible but if I were born in that time and place I probably would ve been one And even if I resisted with all my being I would still have characteristics of one no matter what I didhttpwwwbookslutcomfeatures2005Fanya Kapl n s attempt to assassin Lenin on August 30 1918 IhttpswwwyoutubecomwatchvdIfl1Fanny was executed without trial on September 3 1918Fanya Kapl n s attempt to assassin Lenin IIhttpswwwyoutubecomwatchvtDpiXCreated by 1618 Films at Georgia Institute of Technology in 2007Fanya Kapl n s attempt to assassin Lenin IIIhttpswwwyoutubecomwatchv9eiNPGerman anti war artist K the Kollwitzhttpdearkitty1wordpresscom2014The Execution of ZoyaVollmann or his grubby voyeuristic amanuensis Comrade Alexandrov describes this photo of Zoya after her hanging as one which presents to us her naked corpse in the snow her head arched back as if in sexual ecstasySOUNDTRACKKeith Jarrett Prelude and Fugue No 7 in A major Dmitri Shostakovich

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Europe Central

Ne Slesin Europe Central Wikipedia Europe Central is a novel by William T Vollmann that won the US National Book Award for Fiction Plot It is set in central Europe during the th century and examines a vast array of characters ranging from generals to martyrs officers to poets traitors to artists and musicians It deals with the moral decisions made by people in the most testing of times and offers a perspective Europe centrale la mlancolie du rel de Patrick Michel Europe centrale la mlancolie du rel Patrick Michel Antoine Mars Antonela Capelle Pogacean Nadge Ragaru Note moyenne Donner le premier avis La Pologne la Rpubliue tchue la Slovauie la Hongrie adhrent l'Union europenne en cette anne La Roumanie et la Bulgarie y sont Lire la suite € Neuf Dfinitivement indisponible En librairie Voir la Central Europe Wikipedia Central Europe is the region comprising the central part of EuropeCentral Europe occupies continuous territories that are otherwise sometimes considered parts of Western Europe Southern Europe and Eastern Europe The concept of Central Europe is based on a common historical social and cultural identity and is a patchwork of territories that are traditionally Catholic and Protestant CET heure exacte maintenant World Clock CET Heure Normale D’Europe Centrale est l'un des noms bien connus du fuseau horaire UTC ui est h devant derrire UTC Temps universel coordonn Le dcalage temporel par rapport l'heure UTC peut s'crire Il est utilis pendant l'hiver Pendant l't CEST Heure Avance D’Europe Centrale UTC est utilis European Central Bank The European Central Bank ECB is the central bank of the European Union countries which have adopted the euro Our main task is to maintain price stability in the euro area and so preserve the purchasing power of the single currency FLEUVE D’EUROPE CENTRALE EN LETTRES Solutions de mots Fleuve d’Europe centrale Fleuve d’Europe centrale en lettres Fleuve d’Europe centrale en lettres Dfinition ou synonyme Nombre de lettres Lettres connues et inconnues Entrez les lettres connues dans l'ordre et remplacez les lettres inconnues par un espace un point une virgule ou une toile Exemple P ris Pris Pris ou Pris Rechercher Afficher les autres.. All magic spells fail without belief We enforced belief Europe Central is another monstrous book from Vollmann monstrous in size content language implications critiue of humanity world historical analysis Let s get something out of the way at the outset This book is a masterpiece horrifying painfully beautiful profound if you re a writer you wish you could have written this and no one could have written this book in these early years of the 21st century except Vollmann In many ways it contains everything Vollmann was working through in his career up to this point The Seven Dreams are here Rising Up and Rising Down is here and most especially You Bright and Risen Angels is here I was going to attempt an abstract that tried to situate EC as the missing second half of YBaRA but that never came to fruition it s not like I m getting paid for my time here I ve got other concerns There was a recent discussion with a certain other Vollmanniac about early middle and late Vollmann if distinctions such as these need or could be made at this point and the conclusion Vollmanniac 1 came to is that everything before The Ice Shirt is early Vollmann and Imperial signified the beginning of late Vollmann need I say that by definition everything in between would be considered middle Well then Europe Central from 2005 can be seen as the node of transition out of middle and into late Vollmann This thesis makes itself clear to me in the confidence knife edged clarity control precision and strange to say in a book this massive and yes excessive economy of the language employed to tell the stories told here Vollmann s prose in EC is absolutely mastered not unwieldy not frivolous and for all the digressions into surrealistic imagery impressionism dreamlandscapes worlds of the phantasmic dead sexualized nightmare visions hypnagogic fire eaten rubble of war wasted cities this book feels absolutely and appropriately composed One of the most interesting uestions one should ask about Europe Central is just who is narrating this beast Comrade Alexandrov The Stasi A Dreamer of History And who might that be A Sleepwalker A Realist Shostakovich Gerstein Paulus Vlasov Hilde Benjamin who is the Law Totalitarian Ideology Time Unstuck Death where all souls commingle and whisper Are we watching one of Roman Karmen s films All Of The Above Reader of this review I am asking you to help me answer this uestionModeling its form on Danilo Ki s A Tomb For Boris Davidovich which if you haven t read please to be correcting that oversight posthaste EC takes the structure of that book interrelated bursts of prose explicating the gruesome hypocrisies and corrupted reality of life under totalitarianism and war ranging in length from a few pages to the size of a healthy novella and as Vollmann tends to do maximalizes it expands that idea into infinity Oh another candidate for narrator of EC Infinity What we have then is a panoptic or panoramic view episodic and thus epic internal and external to these people who actually lived told in and outside of their voices filtered through a web of fear and ideological distortions wait another candidate for narrator Fear Warped Space Time rooted in historical event These stories are not as rigorously grounded in historical fact as my Seven Dreams books Rather the goal here was to write a series of parables about famous infamous and anonymous European moral actors at moments of decision Most of the characters in this book are real people I researched details of their lives as carefully as I could However this is a work of fiction Poetic justice has I hope been rendered both to them and to their historical situations but ascending in widening gyres like a V Rocket and flame blooming into that Greatest Fiction that acts as superstructure to all succeeding fictions HistoryAnd thus the enigmatic voice of EC that shifting slithering metamorphosizing never static all static dead end of a blown out telephone receiver hissing demonic overtones the dopplering voice of time collapsing into itself as it passesAnother candidate for narrator of EC Moral Ambiguity in the Time of TerrorOr what does survival mean in a wolfhound age We are shown all of these characters at moments of fatal choice when their epoch had become a mass murderer when ethics became a boot stamping on a human face forever and they were in various guises taken before the door of the Law and told choose or die These were days when music became the wavering pitch of a bomb s descent and the atonal screaming of women and children burning Years when there was no great distinction between ruins of blood and bone and charred buildings This was a fairytale time when steel rivers began to creep throughout Europe Russia Africa and on eastward spreading flame and desolation How did this happen When might this happen again And what is it that makes human beings capable not only of composing beautiful books and paintings and symphonies but also of composing air raids and gas chambers and flamethrowers and panzer divisions and the heaven sent weeping strains of the music of the spheres can still be heard burning of Dresden or Guernica or Stalingrad Dresden is Europe Central the walled kingdom in the middle of the past Every day here begins once upon a time The uniting thread of these stories might be threnody As sure as Shostakovich s unkillable heart was hiding in the body of a destroyed piano Is he dead even today We can hear the past in shards of music and fading photographs Europe Central might be an opera but its stage set is composed of the rubble of the real and its orchestra is performing interpretations of songs that are best not lost or forgotten among the wreckage of History

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Ers I thought were intriguing but also annoying His prose was full of vivid detail but a bit overblown It was the kind of thing I found myself thinking Central Europe Wikipedia Central Europe is the region comprising the central part of EuropeCentral Europe occupies continuous territories that are otherwise sometimes considered parts of Western Europe Southern Europe and Eastern Europe The concept of Central Europe is based on a common historical social and cultural identity and is a patchwork of territories that are traditionally Catholic and Protestant Carte d'Europe centrale | TomTom CET – Central European Time Time Zone Currently observing CET – Central European Time Observes CET – Central European Time part of the year but not currently Currently has same time zone offset Europe Centrale Guide de voyage L'Europe Centrale se trouve comme son nom l'indiue au centre de l'Europe Elle dbouche sur la mer Baltiue une petite partie de la mer du Nord en Allemagne et une tout petite portion de la mer Mditerrane en Slovnie Les pays ui composent l'Europe Centrale sont l'Allemagne l'Autriche la Hongrie le Liechtenstein la Pologne la Rpubliue tchue la Slovauie et la Slovnie Europe centrale Wiktionnaire Europe centrale ʁɔp sɑ̃tʁal fminin singulier Partie centrale de l’Europe incluant l’Allemagne l’Autriche la Hongrie la Pologne la Tchuie la Slovauie la Slovnie la Suisse On y ajoute parfois d’autres pays anciennement domins par les empires allemand ou austro hongrois Vacances voyage sjour Europe Centrale Circuit Europe L'Europe centrale une destination aux multiples attraits Voyage en Europe centrale gage d'un sjour bien rempli De l'Allemagne la Hongrie l'Europe centrale abreuve le voyageur en mal de beaux paysages de nombreuses dcouvertes Entre les campagnes bucoliues les chteaux ui semblent sortir de contes de fes et les villes hors du Europe centrale livres Babelio Dcouvrez sur Babeliocom livres et les auteurs sur le thme europe centrale Histoire de la Hongrie de Mikls Molnr Danube de Claudio Magris L'Europe des Anjou Aventure des princes angevins du XIIe au Xve sicle de Somogy Le Legs de l'alchimiste tome Lonora de Hubert L'art de vivre en Europe centrale de Suzan. This is a rewarding read about the conflict between the regimes of Hitler and Stalin over the fate of Europe in World War 2 told from the perspective of a broad set of emblematic characters As pointed out in the excellent review by Ian Vollmann carries over in this novel his deep concerns with the moral calculus behind violence as explored in his non fiction work preceding this Rising Up and Rising Down The central characters and their major concerns include Dmitri Shastakovich a Russian classical composer who struggles with freedom of expression under the repressive Soviet regime is inspired by an abiding love for a mistress he had in the mid 30s Elena whose incursion on their marriage wife Nina tolerated for the greater good and wavers between producing program music to please Stalin s enforcers such as his Seventh Symphony s representation of the defeat of the Fascist armies at the Siege of Leningrad and the abstract pieces that capture for him the angst and suffering of life in these times which tend to get denounced for decadent formalism Like the poet Akhmatova who also was at the Siege of Leningrad Shastakovich was credited with inspiring the hope and resilience of the city and the world beyond to resist the onslaught of the Fascist war machine Roman Karmen a photojournalist and creator of film documentaries used for Soviet propaganda who despite being a loyal Communist Party member is brave energetic and cheerful about life although he was married to Dmitri s love Elena for a period he works well with Dmitri on some film projects This soldier with a camera went to the most dangerous battles to document the war with the Nazis and loved capturing the common people in documentaries before and after the war first to film the liberation of a concentration camp Kathe Kollwitz a German socialist artist who lost much of her family in World War 1 and achieved admiration for her portraits of ravaged or starving women and children both in Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union Kollwitz drawing from 1934 Death Seizing a Woman Kollwitz self portrait Andrei Vlasov one of the key commanding generals for Soviet forces at the successful defense of Moscow in 1941 but after being imprisoned by the Germans after the defeat of his forces in the attempt to break the Siege of Leningrad in Spring 1942 he collaborated with Nazi efforts to create an anti Bolshevik revolt within the Red Army eventually executed by the Soviets after the war for treason Friedrich Paulus a German general in command of the Sixth Army at the Siege of Stalingrad in 1942 43 whose Axis forces of Wehrmacht and Romanian solders were ordered by Hitler to fight to the last man they sustained losses of about 250000 before the remaining 90000 soldiers and volunteers were captured most of which dies in Siberian labor camps Paulus was named Field Marshal on the day of his capture as a reward for his expected suicide but his Catholicism forbade that and he lived on eventually supporting an anti Fascist group among imprisoned German officers and testifying against key Nazis at the Nuremberg Trials An emaciated General Paulus trying to maintain dignity at the time of capture at Stalingrad the turning point toward defeat of Nazi Germany the 5 month battle led to 11 million casualties for the Soviets and about 800000 for the Axis forces Kurt Gerstein a junior SS officer and assistant to Eichmann s implementation officer for the Final Solution who worked as a liaison to deliver and monitor effectiveness of prussic acid and Zyklon B poisons at the Jewish death camps as one who suffered at the extermination of a sister in law as a mentally defective and a Christian he mentally assumed the role as a spy for God seeing himself as keeping his hand clean while collecting evidence of the evil plan but he failed to get various ministers or foreign consuls to convey that knowledge effectively to significant powers Hilde Benjamin aka the Red Guillotine a judge in East Germany after the war who pronounced the death sentence on many a political prisoner charged as an enemy of the proletarian communist cause her vengeful attitude reflected her persecution as a German socialist during the war and the death of her Jewish husband in prisonYou can see from this range of characters how much the scope and moral dimensions of the war could be covered from a narrative of their actions and personal lives The challenge and the exhilaration of reading their stories comes from the radical modes of presentation used by Vollmann He bounces in and out of viewpoints sometimes slipping between first and third person from the subject s mind between first person present or past tense from an anonymous observer or friend and periodically coming out of the page to either an anonymous omniscient frame or as Vollmann himself Some sections are fairly linear in time but often there is foreshadowing and fracturing of the temporal seuencing In a few sections there is hallucinatory drift as the many metaphors take over In one section the whole war is compressed in mind of Hitler whom he calls the sleepwalker throughout who perceives the history of the Third Reich as fulfilling the German myths portrayed in Wagner s Ring Cycle operas In a section on the Battle of Kurst the largest tank battle in history we get a cartoon like presentation of a telephone communications soldier riding on and on as all of his friends with the Panzers are lost step by step until it is just him and an old one legged mystical volunteer are left advancing undaunted on foot with no ammunition Vollmann characterizes what he is writing as parables not as any attempt at reconstructing actual events He gives plenty of references to most events in the book but in the case of the idealized lasting love between Dmitri and Elena he admits to complete fabrication He saw Europe as a woman Europa in myth and Elena as an emblem for her He oddly portrayed her as bisexual which in a coda at the end of the book he justified as an attempt to make her universally beloved He acknowledges the wonderful novel Life and Fate by Vasily Grossman for most effectively demonstrating the moral euation of Stalinism and Hitlerism claiming the concept to be his starting point An elusive theme in the book concerns the role of the telephone in shaping the modern mentality and facilitating the extension of totalitarian control Characters like Shastakovich are continually paranoid over state police listening on the line The course of action of whole armies can be changed with an order from Hitler or Stalin s headuarters Words and letters also often played with for special significance For example the German word for secret Gehern freuently will suddenly obscure written speech After an early section of the book where Lenin s wife draws out the radical Jewish woman who inflicted a wound which will eventually kill her husband Vollman accounts for bringing perspectives of the mystical Kabbalah into his writing as follows And if this story crawls with reactionary supernaturalism that might be because the author longs to set letters swelling across ceilings cautiously beginning to reify themselves into angels For if they could do that why not usBy far the largest set of metaphors employed throughout this book are musical in nature Shostakovich tried to capture the horrors of war and repression as well as the redemption and hope of love in his compositions Thus whenever we as readers are treated to his stream of consciousness any sound or rhythm from the world are constantly being transmuted into scoring of notes and instruments in a particular key or tempo whether the moans or movements of lovemaking the knock of the secret police at the door the scream of the tortured or bludgeoned or the clank of a tank or blasts of an antiaircraft gun But in other sections the characters experiencing such sounds often are reminded of musical forms too in many cases because they all have heard his transmutations or that of Wagner alternatively Vollmann intervenes to say Shastokovich will use the sound in his future work And most often the piece that is projected to capture the whole epoch is his Opus 110 String uartet 8 completed in 1960 Somehow he believed he could counter the evil in the world with his music I have to admit I am a musical ignoramus and I can only feel a glimmer of what is supposed to be distilled there when I listen to it on YouTubeVollmann s prime hero here gets the foreground towards the end of the novel He is often accused of self indulgent excess the only one I read The Dying Grass about the US Army s chase of Nez Perce Chief Joseph was 1200 pages long However despite my deficient musical perception I loved the compression of the book s themes and the whole cataclysm of the war into his imagined construction of his Opus 110 by the composer Here are some samples At this point the music expands and expands breaking out of Leningrad s concentric rings of death but there is neither joy in it or even escape it expands like an ascending aerial view of Dresden s roofless windowlessness and immense fishbones half untoothed combs upon blinding white rubble gravel window holed brickfronts shattered into runes and swastikas And whenever there s any beauty at all in Opus 110 it s dismembered it drips with death like shitty guts hanging out of a woman s marble white torso this perish all enemies of Hitler and Stalin s power And death oozes out of the silences between notes too the silences ofsecret Nazi documents Geheim the eight beat rest which hung between himself and Maxim when the boy confessed to having denounced him at school Some notes of Opus 110 get coffined up in chords while others solo coffinless become Leningraders falling one by one into the snow to dieAs for the rhythm if you ve ever been present when our Blackshirts in Berlin or their NKVD cadres in Leningrad are beating enemies of the people you ll know how it is the screams alternating with gasps What s that sound That s the allegro moltoAnd Shostakovich entering the negative spaces beneath the piano s black keys at last extends his front line beyond music into a perfect hell where his life dekulakization and Operation Barbarossa become oneEven for the hungry mind tucked in hereview spoilerNever mind the second movement when he really opens up with his eighty eightsWe fly high fine but we don t know to shut off the X ray beams which shine right through the earth to illuminate the mangled tortured skeletons we close our eyes but can t stop seeing right through our eyelids They called him a formalist but he was really a classicist Let s call that mistake pure comedy Anyhow Shoshtakovich s music always flitters from one mood to another with incredible rapidity which is to say that he s unstable What s that sound A uotation from the traditional Russian song Languishing in Prison illuminates the airless chamber of the uartet with history s glare but not brightly enough to show us whose prison or cyanide bath it must be other than his In Opus 110 nothing completes itself before perishing it reminds us that DD Shoshtakovich is dying with his eyes open He knows what happiness is He knows that he ll never possess it In our time life will be so to speak JOYFUL The walls will grow higher the Fifth Symphony will end with hordes of perfidiously bristling bug legged notes and chords strung on the music paper s barbed wire Opus 110 will scream like invalids in a burning hospital What is it that those idiots always say about Zoya Not long but beautifully did she live 18 year old woman hung by the Nazi s for burning a stable before the advance of their army toward Moscow lionized for stating before death You can t hang all one hundred ninety million of us Life s a transfer prison Sunlight between two darknesses isn t sunlight at all it s central Europe herself which is to say that it s the fourth movement s largo which manages to convey the atmosphere of sickening expectation which overhung Shoshtakovich in this period and that feeling is abstracted and generalized to include the naked women standing on a dirt ledge facing the hill so they won t have to see the pit of white corpses and black blood in which they ll soon lie for across that pit two soldiers are feeding a new clip into the machine gun waiting for the field telephone to ring Once we learn the story Estonian Jews life alters doesn t it Violin viola cello violin What s that sound Shoshtakocih becomes every victim trembling silently staring at Nina s black round telephone face with its perfectly round holes he writes music which holds its breath striving not to scream and scream Opus 110 is no progression only a prison and the prisoner one DD Shoshtakovich has now paced the walls right back to his starting point He s at the center of the world you see The center of the world is Leningrad which is Stalingrad which is Auschwitz Every place leads here Hence Opus 110 s horror as intimate as the throat slime of music the strings dripping with bitterness and hate hide spoiler