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Mendelssohn Is on the Roof by Jiří Weil
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Mendelssohn Is on the Roof (1960)

by Jiří Weil

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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» See also 27 mentions

English (4)  Dutch (3)  All languages (7)
Showing 4 of 4
Weil's novel about Nazi-occupied Prague has its poignant moments. I thought it was most successful in conveying the viewpoint of Jewish collaborators and their Nazi masters; I was less impressed by the heroic non-collaborators and resisters who seemed to have walked out of a pulp novel. The novel is very readable, but either Weil himself or the translator adopts a distant tone and keeps all of the characters at arms' length. They never seem to rise above being archetypes. Perhaps that is because the novel is so short and Weil shows us the points of view of many different characters. ( )
  jklugman | Jun 22, 2014 |
Prague during Nazi occupation. A directive is sent down to remove a statue of Jewish composer Mendelssohn before a concert. None of the three men sent to complete the task know which is the right statue. The one in charge has been attending World View classes and so decides to look for the one with the largest nose. He's horrified when the two laborers start to take down the statue of Wagner. This one event brings us into the conditions, events, and lives of those living in and around Prague at this time - both Czechs and Germans; Jews and not; soldiers, government officials, and civilians.

This is a strong companion to Hans Fallada's Alone in Berlin. In Mendelssohn is on the Roof, we see the ripple effects that such a ludicrous decree can have. We see how quickly individuals turn against each other, feel forced (or reduced) to report others. How safety and protection are never guaranteed, no matter what people believe, or have been told, or convince themselves. How people do things they would never do, get dragged into something only to be punished for it later.

There is a heartbreaking scene where Dr Rabinovich, a Talmudic scholar, dragged into the Mendelssohn affair as a 'learned Jew' (with no detail about what he was meant to be learned about), is later in his museum. He is goaded into blowing the shofar (only to be ridiculed as needing more practice). This is normally done by a specific person and only at specific religious times (Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur). Rabinovich is disappointed in himself, that he has sinned against God and his people. He is convinced that he has incurred God's anger, 'which would then fall upon the innocent,' and that 'because of him people would be tortured, tormented and sent to a terrible death. For by blowing the shofar, he had allied with the murderers...Indeed, he was even guiltier than they, because...he had betrayed his own people.' He is sure he will be punished.

Bitterly, darkly satiric and sardonic, this is a powerful book by an author who himself was in hiding for most of the war. This book is a excellent product of those experiences. ( )
4 vote ljbwell | Jan 13, 2014 |
I really didn't like the author's other book, and so I hesitated to try this one, but I figured, what the heck, the title's great, let's give it a go. I'm really glad I did! I think this book gets a great feel for the atmosphere of chaos, uncertainty and fear in the Holocaust, and you see the lives of the characters (there are a lot of them, many of them not connected to each other) spin around each other and occasionally intersect, and you hold your breath as each person's story comes to its inevitable ending. In this way the book reminded me a lot of the wonderful book Every Man Dies Alone.

The only fault I find is that I had a hard time keeping track of all those many characters, and sometimes when their stories would be dropped for awhile and then picked up again, I would have forgotten what was going on before. But it didn't bother me too much. ( )
1 vote meggyweg | Mar 21, 2011 |
While Primo Levi, Ann Frank, and Eli Weizel are well known contributors to Holocaust literature, Jiri Weil is not. It is a shame that Weil is not better known because his work is just as powerful. This novel, set in German occupied Prague, "The Protectorate" as it is known, faithfully and horrifically describes life outside of the concentration camp. The closest it gets is the Terezin ghetto. Life was equally bleak outside the extermination camps. The novel views the world through the eyes of various characters, some Jews but others Nazis or Czech workers. This pastiche dwells on the usual themes of evil, power, death, violence, and suffering. A less typical theme was the psychic pain experienced by those who chose to or were forced to be complicit with the Nazis. And, although almost everyone meets a poor ending, in the end life always affirms itself. This truly is a brilliant novel and classic literature at its best. ( )
3 vote OccassionalRead | Dec 14, 2010 |
Showing 4 of 4
Het is een boek van meer dan vijftig jaar oud, maar dat neemt niet weg dat het ver uitstijgt boven de gemiddelde oorlogsroman.
Al die verhalen van gewone en ongewone mensen zijn bijzonder omdat ze heel scherp –maar niet zonder mededogen– inzicht bieden in wat mensen bewegen kan: hebzucht, onnozelheid, angst voor de dood, de voorzichtige wens om het kwaad te remmen, armzalig eigenbelang, lafheid, soms ook onverwachte moed. Dit boek maakt het subtiele onderscheid dat in veel maatschappelijke discussies vandaag ontbreekt: er bestaat goed en slecht, zwart en wit, en dat verschil mag niet verdoezeld worden, maar de manier waarop mensen ermee omgaan is altijd grijs.
”Mendelssohn op het dak” is een tragisch boek, een treurigmakend boek. De enige troost die het zijn lezers biedt is de gedachte dat het leven altijd door zal gaan, welke gruwelen de mensheid ook overkomen
 
Het in 1960 postuum verschenen Mendelssohn op het dak wordt algemeen gezien als het meesterwerk van Weil en staat nu wereldwijd volop in de belangstelling doordat onder meer Philip Roth een lans voor de roman heeft gebroken.
Deze roman is een must voor de liefhebbers van De lotgevallen van de brave soldaat Švejk van Jaroslav Hašek en Laurent Binet is met zijn HhhH meer dan schatplichtig aan Weil.
added by sneuper | editNu.nl, Guus Bauer (Mar 8, 2012)
 

» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Weil, Jiříprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Mercks, KeesTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mercks, KeesAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Roth, PhilipPrefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Roth, PhilipAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Winn, MarieTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Toen Zeus alle misdaden en onrechtmatigheden ter ore kwamen die de mensheid had begaan, zoals moorden, meineden, bedriegerijen, berovingen en bloedschande, besloot hij al het leven op aarde te vernietigen. Ontploffingen legden alle menselijke woonoorden plat, overstromingen teisterden de velden, zware wolkenpartijen zaaiden dood en verderf, totdat uiteindelijk alleen Deucalion en zijn vrouw Pyrrha op aarde over waren gebleven. Zeus had hen gespaard, omdat zij rechtvaardige mensen waren. Ze vestigden zich op de berg Parnassus in het land Phokis. Toen losten de dodelijke wolken ineens op, de zon brak door en tussen de wolkjes door scheen weer een blauwe hemel. Edoch, Deucalion en Pyrrha waren in tranen, eenzaam als ze waren te midden van die woestenij. Ze richtten een altaar op voor Themis, de godin van de gerechtigheid, en smeekten haar hun te leren hoe ze het menselijk geslacht weer tot leven zouden kunnen wekken. Zijzelf waren immers al te oud daarvoor en konden in hun eentje de aarde niet bevolken. Toen gaf de godin hun de raad het gezicht te verhullen en stenen achter hun rug op de grond te werpen. Ze volgden deze raadgeving van de godin op en telkens wanneer er een steen op de harde grond in stukken brak, werd daar opnieuw een mens uit geboren.
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Antonin Becvar and Josef Stankovsky were on the roof, walking around the statues.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0810116863, Paperback)

Traces the lives of ordinary people in Nazi-occupied Prague. In this ironic pageant of crossing and recrossing lives, death wins all the battles but ultimately loses the war, defeated by the fragile flowering of courage and defiance.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:39 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

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