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Memoirs of an Anti-Semite

4.08  ·  Rating Details  ·  470 Ratings  ·  45 Reviews
* A European classic * Set in Romania, Austria and Germany between the last century's world wars, this is the story of one man. Our hero tells of his childhood: his passion for hunting, his love of the wild landscape of Romania, his ridiculous social snobbery. He leads us through his youth, and between fantastic and colourful stories of Bucharest in the late twenties and e ...more
Published August 9th 2002 by Picador USA (first published 1979)
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Not For A mixture. There's no real spoilers to be had if a reader were to skip and read the last chapter (Story?) and all would become clear during the…moreA mixture. There's no real spoilers to be had if a reader were to skip and read the last chapter (Story?) and all would become clear during the descriptions of his dealings with one of this ex wives as they discuss among other things 'truth' but I'd recommend just reading through it. Actually if anyone was reading this looking for a book of constant vitriol and sheer hate of anyone or any group, they are in for a disappointment. It's certainly not the whole truth and nothing but the truth, but it is a wonderfully written book with a title that's both accurate yet wrong in it's emphasis. I don't know if it is a desire for sensationalism or the guilty conscious of a man brought up in a certain traumatic time to hold certain views that forces that title. Reminds me in style of Tropic of Capricorn by Henry Miller. (less)

Community Reviews

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Jan 03, 2016 Mike rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Easily the strongest book I've read this year--five novellas, each written in a voice of unbelievable richness and power. I can't think of any other writer who can can play the kinds of tricks with time and consciousness that von Rezzori does here, except maybe James in The Ambassadors. The New York Review of Books deserves a freaking medal.
Only one thing was certain: time was passing, time passed even if occurrences had not assumed a visible shape, time had slipped, kept slipping through the grip of memory, a great, great deal of time- and he had lived from the fullness of days as if they were inexhaustible, he especially: for it was not just one life which, these days, formed and would go on forming (not for much longer, he told himself, perhaps for ten more years, at best fifteen), but a half dozen different lives, lived in diff
Mar 21, 2009 Greg rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
The easiest way of thinking about "the Jewish Question" (isn't that so polite?) and the Nazis is to think of it as a temporary aberration and foray into pure evil. I know that this is the way that I have generally thought of the holocaust, it's simplistic and kind of makes one (me, maybe you) feel kind of good inside (good? well not about what happened, but about the general state, or nature, of humanity.). Thinking about this position though leads one (me) to realize that for this to be the cas ...more
Jun 10, 2013 AC rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: vienna, novels-german
A fine book by a very interesting man

The book is a compilation of 5 thinly-masked autobiographical remembrances, focusing in the main on his youth and late adolescence in the eastern reaches of the Austro-Hungarian Empire around the Bukovina, Moldava, and Bucharest. He views the Jews of this area (e.g., Kishinev) as an outsider; but, despite the title, that is only one thread of the author's concern. He presents a vivid picture, in fact, of the Bucharest o
Oct 03, 2010 Dan rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2010
there's something i almost never trust about "redemptive" narratives of race and identity. they almost always congratulate the superficial benevolence of a narrowly defined "target audience" instead of exploring the discomfort and uncertainty that the topic deserves. for me, stories about people developing prejudices are much more interesting than the ones where they un-learn them.

memoirs of an anti-semite offers no real redemption for its central character, but it's not overly bleak in its lack
This is a wonderful novel. The title is ironic. The writing dazzles. Occasionally, just occasionally, I come across a book that wallops me into silence. . . .
Nov 11, 2008 Joan rated it it was amazing
I read this book years ago, before my first trip to Romania. He lived in the northern region of the country, where he said the villages were teeming with Jews. When I arrived in 1993, my friend pointed out an elderly man and said, "See him, he is Jewish. He is the only one in this whole area."

The book itself is vivid and intricate, and portrays the vividly the attraction and ambivlance we all have to the "other."
Jan 18, 2015 Jorge rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Así como las fronteras de los antiguos Reinos e Imperios en donde nació y vivió Gregor Von Rezzori han ido desapareciendo por diversos motivos, así parece ir diluyéndose el recuerdo y la obra de este autor de habla alemana nacido en la actual Rumanía. Lo que yo podría decir es que a pesar de ser el primer libro que leo de él, con eso me basta para instalarlo en el mausoleo inmortal de los mis grandes y venerados escritores; aunque deseo con fuerza poder leer algunas obras más de él. No cabe duda
Monica Carter
Aug 03, 2009 Monica Carter rated it really liked it

So we are knee deep in discovering Eastern Europe through books, and one of the most striking realizations is how complex and complicated countries and their histories prove to be. This is definitely the case for the novel, Memoirs of an Anti-Semite by Gregor Von Rezzori. Von Rezzori hails from Bukovina, once part of the powerful Austro-Hungarian empire and now owned by both Romania and Ukraine. Bukovina? I don't think I have had the pleasure, you say? Well, this is page is a good place to learn
Valerie Thornhill
Jul 09, 2014 Valerie Thornhill rated it liked it
I met Gregor von Rezzori many years ago when I was teaching his sons at St. George's English School and also giving them private English lessons. I wasn't much older than them, and that created an interesting situation! The father never seemed to want to pay for the lessons, so I went to his house and asked for payment as no other messages were ever answered. Well, he was having a shower. I was summoned to the bathroom, told where to find the cheque book, and a hand reached out from behing the s ...more
Mark Broadhead
Oct 02, 2013 Mark Broadhead rated it it was amazing
'Jump a decade forward, or backward if you please. Examine at random this or that possibility of yourself: you always come across someone you would be embarrassed (or even outright ashamed) to identify with, someone you'd refuse to frequent if you weren't forced to live with, because he happens to be yourself.... ' This quote may come across as if the book is an apologia. Far from it. Neither is it proud. It escapes easy definitions.
Jul 29, 2009 S. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Through the first three stories, I felt I was reading something enriching but not terribly enjoyable. It wasn’t dull, the writing was good and the story well set, but it did seem long on monologue. Then I got to the fourth story, “Troth,” which was nothing short of magnificent. What made it magnificent? The characters, the situation, the humor and the devastation. It’s lively and touching and dead serious. The first story was perhaps more developed, but the heart of the book is in “Troth.”

Jun 07, 2012 Gobasso rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Don't be fooled by this books off-putting title. Rezzori is a masterful author and this is not a racist screed. Rather, it shows through one character how the Jews in Europe were perceived by ordinary people. Antisemitism is just a fact of life not virulent. The Jews are "others" and should be treated as such. If you want to know how the Holocaust happened this piece of fiction is a good place to start.
A lot seems to be cribbed from Rezzori's own life--- the childhood in the Bukovina, the living a placid life in Nazi Berlin even as the bombs were falling-- and one wonders if Memoirs of an Anti-Semite wasn't his rather oblique way of coming to terms with the prejudices that haunted his youth. If so, he did a damn good job of it. Like his actual memoirs, the world he describes is a long-gone (to use a cliche that's no longer a cliche but was 50 years ago) Ruritania of Styrian huntsmen and hunche ...more
Ralu Cercel
Nov 17, 2013 Ralu Cercel rated it really liked it
Von Rezzori's memoir (though the last chapter of the book hints to the reader that the stories may or may not be drawn from his own experiences) is both unsettling and comforting.
Brought up to be disgusted by Jews and to blame them for his family's and all of Austrian Empire's misfortune, Gregor is a noble Austrian born in the province of Bucowina in the midst of World War 1 who, through the encounters he has during his life with a great variety of Jews, comes to see that antisemitism cannot be
"The story I am telling seems as distant -- not only in space but also in time -- as if I'd merely dreamed it."
Rezzori's novel reads as if written with the authority of a memoir yet it is imbued with the "golden haze of myth" (p 243). The aroma of the dying embers of the fire that destroyed the empire into which the narrator was born fills each chapter of his life and rises to form a cloud that stands between him and his past and stands between the reader and the reality of his life, fiction tho
Aug 24, 2011 Mcecilia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Storia della vita di un uomo, dall'adolescenza alla vecchiaia, dalla fine della prima guerra mondiale agli anni settanta italiani.
Un giovane in cerca di punti di riferimento e di un'identità nato e cresciuto in quella terra di confine appartenente prima all'impero Asburgico e poi regione periferica della Romania. Figlio di un'aristocrazia in crisi, legata ai miti del pangermanesimo e ai ricordi dell'Impero e assolutamente incapace di trovarsi un ruolo nella società che a cavallo delle due guerr
Feb 09, 2014 Des rated it really liked it
Shelves: german
This was a great memoir, honest and gritty but gave such a good insight into Central Europe between the world wars. It reminded me at time of Max Frisch's Stiller, same feel and atmosphere and personalities plus the clashing of male and female views of the world. Thoroughly recommend.
Nov 08, 2015 Al rated it it was amazing
First of all, don't be put off by the title. The book is set in Teutonic Europe before and after WW II. It's a series of four loosely linked periods of the narrator's life, told in the first person. They're "fiction" but clearly drawn largely from Rezzori's life (more on that later). Rezzori was an Austrian, spent much of his life in Rumania, and also lived in Germany after the war. One of the beauties of the book is that it so clearly portrays the encrusted mindset of the various anti-semitic ...more
Nov 30, 2014 Fernando rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
No es justo cargar un libro de superlativos, pero "Memoirs of an Anti-Semite" es un libro extraordinario, especial, diferente y genial. Quitando esos adjetivos aburridos del camino, lo que hace a esta no-novela de cinco historias tan particular es su capacidad de hablar de todo menos de lo que habla realmente; su lenguaje riquísimo e intrincado; su penetración psicológica; su entereza moral, que proviene de una sinceridad brutal, que quema. Advertencia, lápida, confesionario.
Laura McNeal
Nov 24, 2010 Laura McNeal rated it it was amazing
A professor at Syracuse recommended this book to me as an antidote to my minimalist prose style. Twenty years later, I still admire Rezzori, but I wish he'd called the book something else because I also still remember, twenty years later, reading this book on a plane next to an Orthodox Jew and being paralyzed with shame for what he thought I thought.
May 26, 2016 Nancy rated it liked it
A very challenging and difficult read, due to the subject matter and the language. It is one man's story of how he grew up in Romania in a privileged upper middle class household, with many servants, raised to think himself better than his neighbors. The story starts in the 1930's and his parents hate that the old ways of life are changing, that the country has been divided, and his father lives just for hunting. He has learned prejudice from his parents from an early age, and is taught to hate ...more
Feb 23, 2016 Callie rated it really liked it
Some books you know you're going to love from the very first sentences.

"Skushno is a Russian word that is difficult to translate. It means more than dreary boredom: a spiritual void that sucks you in like a vague but intensely urgent longing."

The prose is rich, beautiful, sumptuous. The stories are unpredictable, complex. The narrator is indeed an anti-Semite, but a surprisingly sympathetic one. In my view, his racism is the most mundane and common kind. A sort of low grade disdain and dislike
Nov 10, 2015 Gordon rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Quite extraordinary. This book originally piqued my curiosity because of its provocative title, despite the complete obscurity (to me and probably most English readers) of its author. A loosely-autobiographical novel set mainly in Romania and Austria between the world wars, against all expectations it completely captivated me with its seemingly lighthearted and often very amusing portrayals of a real ragbag of characters, rudely punctuated with idle but sinister references to the so-called Jewis ...more
Jan 30, 2011 Mimi rated it really liked it
This is a deeply disturbing, insightful, beautifully written book by an Romanian/Austrian writer, covering the disastrous history of the 20th century starting with the decline of the Hungarian Roman Empire (which his father deeply regretted), set in Romania, Vienna, Berlin, Rome before and after the second World War. The book is 5 novellas making up a partially biographical novel (the narrator even has the author's name and certainly his history). Although many of the narrators best friends and ...more
Nov 07, 2010 Jim rated it really liked it
"But certainly, one also senses in these songs the pain and bitterness, the gloomy defiance and yearning, that affict all emotionally exuberant youth.

The old intimacy of kinfolk between Uncle Hubi and myself now grew into a friendship -- the lucid and autumnally rich friendship of a boy and an old man, the king that is cleansed of the passions between people of the same age and entirely given to perceptive kindness and unconditional trust.

My dream of world fame as an artist was suffering from
Jun 09, 2013 anna rated it it was amazing
One of the best things I've read this year and one of the most beautiful books I've ever read. There are Five novellas with a central protagonist in each who shares the name of the author Gregor, although his given name is Arnulf, he is of Italian heritage, born in Rumania, and an Austrian citizen. The organization and structure of the first three novellas is similar, after a long exposition usually involving a Jewish antagonist, Gregor behaves despicably towards them, thereby ending or severing ...more
Sep 13, 2010 John rated it it was amazing
The author tells five stories from his past covering over 50 years of his life in central Europe from shortly after WWi to a period shortly after WWII. The title is misleading as it comes from an accusation made by his second wife (Jewish) when their marriage was breaking up. While the stories are not just about the Jewish Question of that time and place, his complex relationship with Jews plays a major role in all five stories that make up the novel. An excellent writer both in the use of his i ...more
Aug 10, 2013 Peter rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A lovely series of novellas or episodes, this is a sort of flip-side to all the great books about Jewish life in Europe between the wars, written afterwards, that seek to excavate a culture and understand how it resulted in genocide. As with IB Singer, Natalia Ginzburg or Primo Levi, von Rezzori's narrator (who may or may not be the author) is a cosmopolitan iconoclast. But he is a goy, fascinated with Jews, although raised in a deeply anti-semitic family. It's a beautiful, clear-eyed portrait o ...more
Feb 07, 2015 Curtis rated it it was amazing
Four-and-a-half stars really, since I did not consider all five of the stories contained within to be of equal value, but "Troth" makes the whole thing worth it, both as an intense, psychological portrait of the kind of person who, if not an active supporter of the Nazis, offered enough passive goodwill to make the whole terrible experiment possible. The viewpoint of an Austro-Hungarian orphan, a German stranded in Bukovina (now in Ukraine) after World War I provides an excellent vantage point o ...more
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Gregor von Rezzori was born in 1914 in Chernivtsi in the Bukovina, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and now part of Ukraine. In an extraordinarily peripatetic life von Rezzori was succesively an Austro-Hungarian, Romanian and Soviet citizen and then, following a period of being stateless, an Austrian citizen.

The great theme of his work was the multi-ethnic, multi-lingual world in which he
More about Gregor von Rezzori...

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