Praying for an end

Michael Hofmann

  • Scenes from a Disturbed Childhood by Adam Czerniawski
    Serpent’s Tail, 167 pp, £9.99, October 1991, ISBN 1 85242 241 6
  • Crossing: The Discovery of Two Islands by Jakov Lind
    Methuen, 222 pp, £14.99, November 1991, ISBN 0 413 17640 1
  • The Unheeded Warning 1918-1933 by Manes Sperber, translated by Harry Zohn
    Holmes & Meier, 216 pp, £17.95, December 1991, ISBN 0 8419 1032 4

These books are the autobiographies of three displaced persons. In terms of anno domini, they might make up a single, almost seamless life: childhood (Czerniawski), youth (Sperber) and manhood (Lind). But such a life would be a monster of contradiction. Two of the authors write in their acquired language, English, and one has been translated from German; two are individualists, one is a subscriber to causes, a disciple and a belonger; two are (rather dissimilar) Jews, one had a Catholic upbringing; two fetch up in England, one in France. I will be Anglocentric and begin with the English.

The full text of this book review is only available to subscribers of the London Review of Books.

You are not logged in