The Accident (Biblioasis International Translation Series) Paperback – 23 Jun 2011
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"The Accident, translated by Stephen Henighan, would be a marvel of beauty and control under any circumstance; that it was written by a Jew in Romania in 1940 seems miraculous... The crystalline note of [Sebastian's] insight, so clear in the novel and so poignantly ironic in Mihail Sebastian's life, rings out across the decades." --Wall Street Journal "Long a respected name in European circles, Sebastian, a lawyer, playwright, intellectual and novelist who grimly suffered through a succession of anti-Semitic cruelties and indignities during the Second World War only to be fatally hit by a truck after the war ended, enjoyed a flurry of English-language attention about a decade ago with the translation of his war-era diary, Journal 1935-1944: The Fascist Years (which won rare praise from Philip Roth, incidentally, among many others). One hopes this new book, whose lyricism and depth of feeling have been made wonderfully apparent thanks to Stephen Henighan's elegant translation, will only expand his English readership." --The National Post "Mihail Sebastian's The Accident is a compelling mercurial novel. ...[It] can be enjoyed for the dynamic, confused love story it presents as well as for its historical relevance." --ForeWord Review "a beautifully written and translated story, which brings vividly to life the intellectually and artistically bustling Romania of the 1930s." --Jewish Independent
About the Author
Mihail Sebastian: Mihail Sebastian (1907-1945) was one of the major Central European writers of the 1930s. Born in southeastern Romania, he worked in Bucharest as a lawyer, journalist, novelist and playwright until anti-semitic legislation forced him to abandon his public career. His long-lost diary, Journal 1935-1944: The Fascist Years, was published in seven countries between 1996 and 2007, launching an international revival of his work. Sebastian's novels and plays are available in translation throughout Europe, and also have been published in Chinese, Hindi, Bengali and Hebrew. The Accident is Sebastian's first work of fiction to appear in English. Stephen Henighan: Stephen Henighan's books include Lost Province: Adventures in a Moldovan Family, A Grave in the Air, The Streets of Winter and A Report on the Afterlife of Culture. A nominee for the Governor General of Canada's Literary Award, he teaches at the University of Guelph, Ontario.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
It opens with a street accident scene that brings together the two lonely protagonists and then races on via an unusual plot and tumultuous emotional upheavals.
While the story was written back in the `30's it has such a fresh, contemporary feel to it that I involuntarily wondered where cell phones were.
Characters move through pre war Bucharest's artistic and intellectual circles but heal, strengthen and live life to its fullest while skiing in the Carpathian Mountains.
The train ride to Belgium, via Germany, gives a glimpse of the Europe's escalating, fascist terror. In stark contrast, the train ride to the slopes of Transylvania's mountains brings a joyful, contagiously enthusiastic atmosphere.
The book was first published in 1940. Recent translations became instant best sellers in Europe.
Stephen Henighan's English translation brings this gem to us; it remains to be seen how the American public will react to it. I could not put it down.
The whole "romance" angle I was less certain of. When the book ended (rather abruptly) I was left with a handful of questions: Are Paul and Nora really in love with each other? Are they going to continue their relationship after the ski trip? Was Paul really suicidal, anyway, and is he still? Yet it was nice to watch their developing romance.
I would say this book was worth reading, even if it wasn't "my kind" of story. Certainly it would interest those who want to know about everyday life in Central Europe in the inter-war period.