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Volcano and Miracle: A Selection of Fiction and Nonfiction from The Journal Written at Night

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Volcano and Miracle is a selection of fiction and prose writings from Gustaw Herling's masterwork, The Journal Written at Night. The Journal is an account of events and reflections that offer the occasion for this great writer to continue rethinking and reimagining the human condition. These remarkable selections from Gustaw Herling's Journal, written from 1970 to the pres Volcano and Miracle is a selection of fiction and prose writings from Gustaw Herling's masterwork, The Journal Written at Night. The Journal is an account of events and reflections that offer the occasion for this great writer to continue rethinking and reimagining the human condition. These remarkable selections from Gustaw Herling's Journal, written from 1970 to the present, include such astonishing fictional tales, based on historical sources, as "Rubble," "The Duke of Milan," "The Miracle," and "A Venetian Portrait," a love story that takes place at the end of World War II. But the heart of the Journal is brilliant critical pieces on Soviet Communism and literary gems on such writers as Ignazio Silone, Stendhal, Melville, Kafka, Dostoevsky, and Camus.


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Volcano and Miracle is a selection of fiction and prose writings from Gustaw Herling's masterwork, The Journal Written at Night. The Journal is an account of events and reflections that offer the occasion for this great writer to continue rethinking and reimagining the human condition. These remarkable selections from Gustaw Herling's Journal, written from 1970 to the pres Volcano and Miracle is a selection of fiction and prose writings from Gustaw Herling's masterwork, The Journal Written at Night. The Journal is an account of events and reflections that offer the occasion for this great writer to continue rethinking and reimagining the human condition. These remarkable selections from Gustaw Herling's Journal, written from 1970 to the present, include such astonishing fictional tales, based on historical sources, as "Rubble," "The Duke of Milan," "The Miracle," and "A Venetian Portrait," a love story that takes place at the end of World War II. But the heart of the Journal is brilliant critical pieces on Soviet Communism and literary gems on such writers as Ignazio Silone, Stendhal, Melville, Kafka, Dostoevsky, and Camus.

37 review for Volcano and Miracle: A Selection of Fiction and Nonfiction from The Journal Written at Night

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jim Fonseca

    The author was a Polish Jewish writer and journalist (1919 – 2000) who fought in the underground against the Nazis and Soviets and was imprisoned in a Soviet work camp during WW II. This collection is a mix of fiction and non-fiction, mainly articles for an Italian newspaper column he wrote as he lived much of his post-war life in Naples. The pieces are organized chronically from 1970 to 1993. Some of the earliest pieces involve so many long-lost names of early Communist politicians that they a The author was a Polish Jewish writer and journalist (1919 – 2000) who fought in the underground against the Nazis and Soviets and was imprisoned in a Soviet work camp during WW II. This collection is a mix of fiction and non-fiction, mainly articles for an Italian newspaper column he wrote as he lived much of his post-war life in Naples. The pieces are organized chronically from 1970 to 1993. Some of the earliest pieces involve so many long-lost names of early Communist politicians that they are of interest only to Russian scholars. One good piece that is understandable to the lay reader is a comparison of Stalin and Caligula. And here’s a good quote that relates to what some have called our current “post-truth: environment: “Bolshevism was a religion in the sense that its dogmas transcended clear proof or were contrary to it. Those who embraced Bolshevism became insensitive to scientific proof and committed intellectual suicide.” [pp. 180-81.] Many of the best articles are related to literature. There’s a piece on Kafka’s five years’ worth of love letters to his fiancé, Felice Bauer. Who knew Kafka had a fiancé? There’s writing about Nietzsche’s dementia-filled final days in Turin. There is an essay on the remarkable similarities between two tales of scriveners; Bartleby by Melville (1856) and The Overcoat by Gogol (1841). There are pieces on Gogol in Rome and Thomas Mann in Naples; the mix-up at Chekhov’s funeral, where people followed the wrong casket to the grave. And other essays on Conrad, Camus, Ignazio Silone, Flaubert and Defoe. He compares Conrad’s Secret Agent to Italy’s Red Brigades active in the 70’s and early 80’s. Here’s an interesting literary idea: Herling expands on a quote by Andrzej Ciolkosz that incandescent lighting dispelled the dark and created a flat and shallow illusion of clarity that changed the way that novelists look at people: candles and oil lamps cast them in an enigmatic dimension on the fragile border between the seen and unseen, between the graspable and ungraspable. All that was lost with modern lighting. The title (it could also be Devil and God) reflects the uncertainty of life in earthquake and volcano-prone Naples. There are many stories about and references to earthquakes. I looked up the death toll of modern earthquakes in Naples and southern Italy: 40,000 in 1783; 11,000 in 1857; 3,000 in 1883; 200,000 in 1908; 2,000 in 1930; 4,000 in 1980. The beauty of a collection of essays and vignettes like this is that you pick up all kinds of information you would not otherwise be aware of. There’s a meditation on the plague years in Naples inspired by a painting of the year 1656. A good quote: “Plague is synonymous with the decay of the bonds that link people.” [p. 223.] One story is about an early (1600’s) citizens’ revolt where the poor established their own government (quickly quelled). In an essay on Platonov’s novel Chevengur, Herling writes that that author taught us to value love of what is near rather than love of what is afar. (Local, not global?) There’s a reference to Italy’s Schidler: Giogio Perlasca who saved more than 5,000 Jews in Hungary. Since the author was imprisoned, we learn of many (so many!) death camps, work camps, prison camps, notably the massacres near Katyn Forest in 1940 where Stalin ordered the death of as many as 22,000 imprisoned Polish police, priests, landowners, government officials and intelligentsia. In fact the author is probably best-known for his account of his life in a Soviet gulag, A World Apart, published in 1951.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Denise

    Herling was an unexpected find. I love his fictional journal entries as well as his literary pieces on Kafka, Dostoyevsky and other writers.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Serubiri Moses

    To constantly return to and learn from. Magnificent book.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Gabriel

  5. 4 out of 5

    Nami

  6. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

  7. 4 out of 5

    Ogeeogee

  8. 5 out of 5

    Robert

  9. 4 out of 5

    Dan Garfield

  10. 4 out of 5

    Lorenzo Berardi

  11. 5 out of 5

    Mark Feltskog

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jacob Wren

  13. 5 out of 5

    Richard

  14. 4 out of 5

    Fred

  15. 4 out of 5

    Caro the Helmet Lady

  16. 4 out of 5

    Tim

  17. 5 out of 5

    Laura Jordan

  18. 5 out of 5

    Matthew

  19. 5 out of 5

    Petr

  20. 5 out of 5

    Stacey

  21. 5 out of 5

    Aris

  22. 5 out of 5

    Joseph LaRusso

  23. 4 out of 5

    Diego Munoz

  24. 4 out of 5

    B.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Robert

  26. 4 out of 5

    George Berguño

  27. 5 out of 5

    Raven

  28. 4 out of 5

    Rowena

  29. 5 out of 5

    BookDB

  30. 5 out of 5

    Wayne

  31. 4 out of 5

    Scott

  32. 4 out of 5

    Maryam

  33. 4 out of 5

    Mag

  34. 4 out of 5

    abcdefg

  35. 5 out of 5

    Kasia

  36. 5 out of 5

    Burnsy06

  37. 5 out of 5

    Christopher Nance

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