Another Country: Writings by and about Henry Kreisel

Description

362 pages
Contains Illustrations, Bibliography, Index
$19.95
ISBN 0-920316-87-5

Publisher

Year

1985

Contributor

Edited by Shirley Neuman
Reviewed by W.J. Keith

W.J. Keith is a retired professor of English at the University of Toronto and author A Sense of Style: Studies in the Art of Fiction in English-Speaking Canada.

Review

Henry Kreisel escaped from Nazi-dominated Austria to England in 1938 at the age of 16. In 1940 he was interned as an “enemy alien” and transferred to Canada, where he was released in 1941. He then entered the University of Toronto, studied English, and headed his class. He went on to an M.A. there, and later to a doctorate at the University of London. He published The Rich Man in 1948 and The Betrayal in 1964, both absorbing novels concerned with Jewish life and culture and political tyranny. A volume of impressive short stories, The Almost Meeting, appeared in 1981. He is a slow writer, and his work has been further interrupted by time-consuming duties in university administration, including a stint as vice-president of the University of Alberta.

This book reprints his internment diary, a moving document that had appeared in a small-circulation magazine in 1974; a number of early poems and short stories that appear for the first time; an eloquent response to the city of Vienna; the text of a radio play; two recent short stories (one hither-to unpublished); and various papers on literature and culture. The text of two interviews (one again unpublished) and a collection of critical essays by other writers are also included. (I should state that the latter material contains a two-page review by the present writer, but this fact does not, I think, invalidate my judgment.) There is also a full bibliography.

Because of his comparatively small output, Kreisel has not, until the publication of Another Country, received the attention that is clearly his due. The nature of these collected documents leads inevitably to a certain amount of repetition, but this is more than balanced by the attractive portrait that emerges of the man behind the writings. Kreisel has led a remarkable life and has earned the right to his position as one of our most respected humanists. He is a man of high principles and high literary standards, and he brings an intellectual strength to all his work, creating a moral seriousness rare in our literature. I have never heard anyone who has ever made his acquaintance speak of him without warmth and affection, and these qualities are well communicated here. Shirley Neuman is to be congratulated on editing a book that gives a worthy man belated but deserved recognition.

Citation

Kreisel, Henry, “Another Country: Writings by and about Henry Kreisel,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 24, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/36074.