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Portrait of the Mother as a Young Woman by [Delius, Friedrich Christian]
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Portrait of the Mother as a Young Woman Kindle Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Product Description


"What a superb translator. This extraordinary and eloquent novella, a true tour de force, has made me long to find more of Delius's work straightway." --Miranda Seymour, writer

"A slim text. Huge literature." --Observer, Vienna

"A big historic picture in a small space" --Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

"The tension and elasticity of this superb narration are impressive."
--Die Welt

"This is a small masterpiece." -- TLS

"A revelation of humanism and hope almost musical in its intensity." -- The Guardian

"for, ultimately, it is what we know about the tragedy of World War II, and what Margherita does not, or will not ... that gives this miniature its power" -- Time Out

"Delius has the gift to articulate joy, beauty and love." -- The Independent

"This is the kind of reckoning with the past that could happen only with the passing of time."
-- Standpoint

"Delius's exploration of how indoctrination and denial work impresses with both the sympathy it creates for its bewildered protagonist and the musicality of its prose." --Financial Times

From the Publisher

Why Peirene chose to publish this book:
"I was simply enthralled by the structure of this narrative, a single 117-page long sentence with a beautifully clear rhythm. At the same time it's a compelling and credible description of a "typical" young German woman during the Nazi era. If we can relate to her we come close to understanding the forces that were shaping an entire generation. "Meike Ziervogel (publisher)

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 406 KB
  • Print Length: 115 pages
  • Publisher: Peirene Press (1 Nov. 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0079IU2JU
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #439,331 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
`Portrait of a Mother as a Young Woman' sounds intimidating before you start it as the book is one long sentence which instantly filled me with dread. I don't like it when a book does this for a few pages let alone a whole novella. However whether its down to the original, the editing or the translation (without reading the original in German I would never know - something I always think of when reading translations `was it this good originally, was it worse, was it better?') it was a fear that proved unfounded as there are natural breaks in the pattern of the narrative.

Our protagonist is the woman of the title; we meet her during the war in 1943 as a young pregnant German woman residing in Rome while her husband is in army service in Africa. After doctors orders she is walking through the city from her guest house to the church. Initially she simply observes the city and looks back on how her relationship with Gert started and then starts to worry about the future, will her husband be safe, what world will her unborn child be born into? Normally a woman who believes that the almighty is powering and behind everything, worrying doubts are setting in her mind.

There is little more to the story than the way in which her thoughts progress as she wanders, you are simply privy to the internal workings and machinations of this woman's thoughts. Yet this is not a book about plot, this is a book about time and place and Delius, through his portrait of this young woman, sets the time, place and surreal atmosphere in a city untouched by war yet very much feeling its effects (such as the coffee shortage - how did Italians cope with that?) now and again and forcing the reality of the situation into peoples minds when sometimes they forget.

The writing is simply stunning.
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By Freckles VINE VOICE on 4 Sept. 2010
Format: Paperback
This enthralling story centres around a single afternoon in January 1943.

A heavily pregnant young woman is in the "eternal city" of Rome. We learn that she is German and is residing in the capital because her husband has returned from the war due to a leg injury. Cruelly, they have been only been together for a couple of days, when Gert is recalled to serve in Africa, following Germany's defeat at El Alamein.

The young woman is on her way to the Lutheran church to attend a Bach concert. Her bewilderment and sadness is palpable, as she tries to make sense of her situation and the strangeness of Germany's presence in their ally's country. It seems like an "occupation" rather than an invitation from willing hosts. There is a "protocol" which this young woman fails to grasp. Even the unfamiliar statues and artwork confuse her, and she longs for her husband's knowledge and company. Her whole life has been influenced by the Protestant Church, reinforced by her husband's calling as a minister. This also sits uncomfortably within the very centre of the Catholic church in Rome.

What persists throughout the narrative, unusual and compelling in it's single 117 page sentence,is her innocence,her utter belief that God will prevail and a sense that if she chooses not to confront her fears.......they will never come to be. I found this deeply moving. Her whole being is concerned with the baby she is carrying and the hope that child will bring. As the music of the concert swells and unites Germans and Italians, Protestants and Catholics alike and her tears flow freely.....yes there has to be hope......for what is left in this confusing and damaged world?

Another little masterpice from Peirene.
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By Thomas Cunliffe TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 25 Aug. 2010
Format: Paperback
Portrait of the Mother as a Young Woman, is simple in concept, being an account of a young woman's walk to church from her home in a guest room of an old-people's home in Rome (which is run by Protestant nuns). The year is 1943, and the young woman is German, her husband a young ordinand who despite an earlier injury to his leg, has been sent to support the German army in their campaign in Tunisia.

The woman is heavily pregnant with only a month to go before the baby is due, and as she walks through the city we read of her thoughts on love, war and the German cause, while she also notices the beautiful surroundings as she passes the landmarks of Rome - which Delius describes in such detail that it is tempting to get on a plane and fly out to see them for yourself.

The novel consists of a single sentence extended over its 117 pages. But this does not make the book difficult to read because the text is broken up into paragraphs, and the technique preserves the flow of the woman's thoughts over the hour of her walk.

Delius captures the naivety of a young woman brought up under the Nazi regime. She finds it hard to accept that Germany is no longer sweeping to victory. Stalingrad has passed, as has Alamein, and the thought is beginning to dawn on her that ultimate victory is no longer assured.

At first glance, the novel feels like a simple read, but it has many subtleties which tackle the dilemma of how "ordinary" Germans could support such a disastrous regime. Delius has captured the woman's confusion in trying to integrate two competing philosophies in her mind. On the one hand she is typically patriotic,with even the thought of German defeat seeming like a vile heresy that cannot be uttered.
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