The Use of Man
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Set in Yugoslavia prior to and during World War II, this tale of devastation traces the lives of four friends born in the same small town. They went to school together, took dancing lessons, stole kisses, were taught German by an old maid who kept a diary. But when war comes, half-Jewish Vera is sent to a concentration camp while her German cousin becomes a Nazi; Serbian boyfriend Milinko joins the Partisans; and another classmate, also a Serb, becomes fascinated by the magic of killing. Tisma's portrayal of their situation is certainly poignant, but he belabors the obvious in overly melodramatic fashion.
small bulwark, the record of humanity in a time of “barbarity and barrenness,” of the small, flickering, sometimes questionable, sometimes uninterpretable light that continues. And Fräulein Anna Drentvenšek’s diary, the frame for the novel, proves to be just this. The novel opens with a description of the diary itself: “small and oblong, with a coarse-grained red binding of imitation snakeskin, and in the top right-hand corner was the inscription `Poésie’ in embossed gold letters.” This
pretended to be his pupil, the pupil’s pupil, and watched him swell with pride as a result of the deception. She began to think that everyone was pretending, boasting of a power they did not have, while those who had the power did not talk but simply made use of it. When her mother’s brother, Sep, showed up unexpectedly at the house—she could just barely remember him as a boy from her rare childhood visits to Grandmother Lehnart’s village—he was serious, dry, unresponsive, with a revolver at his
soon to close because of the competition from the big stores. All business in Germany was growing; the small shops were disappearing, crowded out. Tereza Arbeitsam warmed to her subject, pleased to be present in a revolution that was shaking the whole country, particularly since it spared the tavern business. In all other trades, she said, the trend was toward large-scale concerns and mass production, but here the consumer wanted something small and personal, where after the wearying crowd he
Sredoje, on the other hand, considered those hardships natural. For him, there was no return to the past, to what was left behind; he thought, instead, about ways to improve things. Therefore, although a newcomer, he was a better and more able soldier than many. He showed his mettle in the very first skirmish. It came about unexpectedly, with the arrival of a German unit that had been drawn into the mountains by the deceptive promise of an easy victory. In the general confusion, Sredoje was
been filled with summer kitchens, sheds, laundry rooms, rooms for assignations, courtyards where refuse has choked the grass, weeds, and the last unpruned fruit tree. The hospital at Sauerkammermunde on a hilltop, 1,636 feet high, with an asphalt driveway ending at its gate. A high brick wall, behind which stand four square buildings, identical and equidistant, like the four spots on a die; each two-story building containing thirty-two rooms, of which one is the doctors’ office and another a