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Comedy in a Minor Key by Hans Keilson

Comedy in a Minor Key (1947)

by Hans Keilson

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English (18)  Dutch (2)  Spanish (1)  Norwegian (1)  Danish (1)  Piratical (1)  All languages (24)
Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
This is a fine little book. A young married couple in netherlands takes in a jewish man during the war. He unexpectedly dies. The book goes back and forth in time. Including the possibility for a time that the dead man's body, left in the park, with it's laundry tags, may implicate the young couple. For a time they to must go into hiding. Listened as an audibook. ( )
  idiotgirl | Dec 25, 2015 |
Set in Holland during WW II, a couple loosely affiliated with the Dutch resistance take in a Jewish refugee hiding from the Nazis. After a brief period, they begin to resent one another in small ways. Their lodger becomes even more annoying when he dies. Their displeaure with him grows when they find how difficult clandestine corpse disposal is in a police state. Not a funny book, but a black comedy with insight into the motives of people trying to do the right thing. ( )
  HenryKrinkle | Jul 23, 2014 |
A gem of a novella. Dutch, written right after the war, it tells the story of a young married couple sheltering an older Jewish man. The story bounces back and forth in time, organized around the events before and after the man they are hiring dies of what seems to be pneumonia.

Although not perfect, it is deeply humane and evocative. ( )
  nosajeel | Jun 21, 2014 |
This is the second the of the three novels written by Hans Keilson, a German Jew who escaped Germany in 1936 and joined the Dutch Resistance. His parents refused to go into hiding and were deported to Auschwitz where they were murdered. Hans did spend time in hiding, and this book reflects his understanding of the tensions inherent in long-term isolation, for both the hidden and the hiders.

Wim and Marie are an ordinary Dutch couple who take in and hide a Jewish man they know as Nico, not out of sympathy for the plight of Jews or a sense of humanism, but out of simple patriotism. The past year of hiding turns out to be easier than they expected, although not without its trials. But now they have a problem on their hands. Nico has died of pneumonia, and they need to get rid of the body.

In flashbacks, the author presents the tensions, misunderstandings, and growing compassion from both the perspective of the Dutch couple and the Jewish man they are hiding. What is great about this novella is not any extraordinary action or insight, but its average normalcy. This is the story of the unsung; no less courageous because of their lack of notoriety. ( )
2 vote labfs39 | Feb 28, 2014 |
Still forming my thoughts on this one. ( )
  darby3 | Mar 29, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
Comedy in a Minor Key" is very much about these issues: the endurance of life in a universe of death....The existential questions, forms the substance of this delicately balanced novel, a book of such profound and understated beauty that it almost seems to function as a parable...But in some sense, "Comedy in a Minor Key" is a testament to the power of consolation in an inconsolable situation, not to make things better but to allow us to see them as they are.
As you might expect from a book titled Comedy in a Minor Key, Hans Keilson’s novella – it’s 136 pages long – is a tonally eccentric work. It’s a mixture of grief, hope, fear and, if such a thing is possible, dry slapstick. ...I think Comedy in a Minor Key is one of the best short novels I’ve ever read...For me, the work’s chief accomplishment, aside from the quickness and subtlety of Keilson’s characterizations, is in its juxtaposition of the day-to-day (the banal) against the historically monstrous (the Second World War, the ruthless hunt for the Jews)..Comedy in a Minor Key is the work of a consummate artist, a wonderful writer. And the most striking thing about it may well be that it has taken so long for such exceptional work to be translated into English.
For busy, harried or distractible readers who have the time and energy only to skim the opening paragraph of a review, I’ll say this as quickly and clearly as possible: “The Death of the Adversary” and “Comedy in a Minor Key” are masterpieces, and Hans Keilson is a genius.

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Hans Keilsonprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Sanders, H.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schuitemaker, FrankTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Searls, DamionTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"Da sind sie wieder," sagte der Doktor plötzlich und richtete sich auf.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0374126755, Hardcover)

A penetrating study of ordinary people resisting the Nazi occupation—and, true to its title, a dark comedy of wartime manners—Comedy in a Minor Key tells the story of Wim and Marie, a Dutch couple who first hide a Jew they know as Nico, then must dispose of his body when he dies of pneumonia. This novella, first published in 1947 and now translated into English for the first time, shows Hans Keilson at his best: deeply ironic, penetrating, sympathetic, and brilliantly modern, an heir to Joseph Roth and Franz Kafka. In 2008, when Keilson received Germany’s prestigious Welt Literature Prize, the citation praised his work for exploring “the destructive impulse at work in the twentieth century, down to its deepest psychological and spiritual ramifications.”

Published to celebrate Keilson’s hundredth birthday, Comedy in a Minor Key—and The Death of the Adversary, reissued in paperback—will introduce American readers to a forgotten classic author, a witness to World War II and a sophisticated storyteller whose books remain as fresh as when they first came to light.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:53 -0400)

Traces the struggles of a Dutch couple who shelter a Jewish man during the Nazi occupation and dispose of his body when he dies of pneumonia.

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An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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