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An Ermine in Czernopol

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  182 Ratings  ·  24 Reviews
Set just after World War I, An Ermine in Czernopol centers on the tragicomic fate of Tildy, an erstwhile officer in the army of the now-defunct Austro-Hungarian Empire, determined to defend the virtue of his cheating sister-in-law at any cost. Rezzori surrounds Tildy with a host of fantastic characters, engaging us in a kaleidoscopic experience of a city where nothing is a ...more
Paperback, 380 pages
Published January 10th 2012 by New York Review of Books (first published 1958)
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Nicholas During
Jan 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved this book. It combines Proust's elegant and deep reflection of becoming an adult with the Josepth Roth topic of Austro-Hugarian decline, and with it the sense of a lose of a unique multiculturalism and impending doom, with the craziness hilarity of Don Quixote.

Not sure what else to say. It is written superbly, a mix of funny tales told from the eyes of children, though through a pretty sophisticated adult voice, with longer looks into the motivations of people, and how we perc
Jun 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Will by: Chad Post
A super fun romp through the old world...a multicultural mishmash in Bukavina, where the cultures of Austro-Hungarians, Germans, Romanians, Ukrainians, Russians, and Jews all come together in a time between the two Great Wars, when the horror of violent anti-semitism was on the rise and the specter of Nazism was forming and becoming known in all things, but in the meantime, the child narrator gazes with eyes wide open at the hilarious (laughter defined life in Czernopol), grotesque (that same la ...more
Jan 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
I am here to lay down my qualifed love for An Ermine in Czernopol. The first thing I loved is the title. I especially loved to say it. I had no idea what an Ermine was and Czernopol didn't ring any bells either (neither did it in google or, apparently, in my spell check). But the back copy just about sold me - I'm a sucker for anything about Europe between/before the WWs and, added to that, the vanished Austro-Hungarian Empire - sign me up. And the first couple of pages are phenomenal writing - ...more
May 09, 2012 added it
An Ermine in Czernopol by Gregor von Rezzori (Trans. from the German by Philip Boehm). New York Review Books Classics (2011).

Having read Gregor von Rezzori’s Memoirs of an Anti-Semite and The Snows of Yesteryear, I knew I was in for a treat when I bought An Ermine in Czernopol. Like his other books, this one too is largely autobiographical, though it is written as if it were a novel. No doubt, for the sophisticated Rezzori, the current distinctions between “memoir” and “fiction” would have been
Domenico Fina
Sep 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"L'ermellino muore appena il suo candido vello si imbratta". Con questa citazione inizia il romanzo di Rezzori, un capolavoro poetico e geniale amato da Magris, alcuni personaggi si sfaldano quando perdono la loro pelle dochisciottesca ed entrano nel mondo che non avevano concepito.
Chuck LoPresti
Mar 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
A very impressive mind and great attention to detail are on full display in Rezzori’s Ermine In Czernopol. This is no easy read - and it will not appeal to many - but if you love what Proust wrote - you'll probably find the same affection for Rezzori. Rezzori is an extremely intelligent writer whose philosophical understanding of the world is everywhere apparent. This can be troublesome for the reader not willing to forego plot for description. If you like complex prose, you'll be delighted. Whe ...more
Chad Post
Jun 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is really excellent, like basically all NYRB books. Only other thing of von Rezzori's I've read is "Death of My Brother Abel" (which is OP, and has a sequel that I don't think has ever been published), but now I'm stoked to read the other parts of this trilogy.

There's a lot to love in this novel--the humor, the almost manic way the plot is related, the underlying sense of impending doom that will be WWII--but my favorite favorite bit is how Major Tildy gets sent to the insane asylum for cha
May 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
An Ermine in Czernopol is a fictional testimonial of what life was like in the capital of Bucovina between the two 20th century world wars. Gregor Von Rezzori published it in German in 1963; this English translation only first became available in 2011.

This is a dense book—and most people won’t like it, I suspect, particularly in our current society with its accelerating attention deficit disorder, impatient demands for satisfaction, and requirements of speedy and blatant gratification. It takes
It's typical Rezzori material, and if you've seen The Grand Budapest Hotel, to a certain degree, you know the drill -- a cast of eccentrics in a town on the fringe of the old Austro-Hungarian Empire. However, it's probably the weakest Rezzori I've read. As much as I liked each character, each episode, it didn't seem to unite as a whole the way Memoirs of an Anti-Semite or The Snows of Yesteryear did. However, they remain wonderful, old-world stories as individual elements, and it's worth the rea ...more
Apr 11, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: idlewild
There were seven of us at the book discussion. Three (including myself) had finished it, and only one liked it. There was potential lurking in there, and I enjoyed the depictions of Solly Brill and Madame What's-Her-Name (see? I don't even remember her name and I don't care!) from the school. She had something in common with Madame Fidolia from Streatfeild's Ballet Shoes. But that and my fondness for Tanya is about it.

The rest was a tangential mess that left me unmoved.

Ruth B
Jul 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
It is rambling.
It is long.
It is genius.

"And the remarks he casually tossed aside were downright brilliant, as for instance his appraisal of a sensually languid-not languidly sensual-woman: 'she snorrs vit de oygen'-she snores with her eyes."
May 21, 2012 rated it liked it
An Ermine In Czernopol by Gregor Von Rezzori (

I'm starting this review with a warning that anyone who gets offended easily by racist language and in particular anti semitic language should avoid this book at all costs as you will be regularly offended by it.
Well when I bought this book I had no idea the authors most famous work was the Memoirs of an Anti Semite which would have been enough to stop me reading this book. I'm glad I didn't know, as otherwise I wouldn't have been able t
Apr 24, 2015 rated it it was ok
AN ERMINE IN CZERNOPOL. (1966). Gregor Von Rezzori. **.
About one-third of the way through this book I asked myself: “Why am I reading this?” I found it pretentious and boring. It is not a novel, or one that we would recognize as such. It is a series of interconnected ramblings by the author about his town of Czernopol. He does introduce several characters in his work who are humorous in an ironic way, but do not compel your attention. I read several reviews of the work before I finally put it do
Richard Thompson
Jun 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: world-literature
This is a wonderful book written in an enchanting comic style with larger than life characters and techniques of exaggeration and estrangement that make Rezzori a worthy heir of Gogol and that prefigure the writing of Hunter Thompson and the movies of Wes Anderson. This is the story of eccentric people in an eccentric small city that is a melting pot of nationalities that bring a richness to the culture, but also a measure of strife. The eccentricities are emphasized and brought into focus by th ...more
Daniel Polansky
Interesting. About childhood in a a provincial capital in a post WWI Romanian, and also about the end of the patchwork, multi-ethnic fabric of the Hapsburg Empire which would be torn asunder during WWII. This is a sly, subtle, sidelong sort of work, digressions and side stories dominating the hint of plot. As a writer Rezzori is a pressure boxer, like Proust or Stephen King, relying for narrative effect on a cavalcade of observations and analogies, and I often felt that many of his lines examine ...more
Vuk Trifkovic
Mar 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating book, a hidden gem, at least in the UK. Can't believe I only found out about it on an off chance - browsing NY Review of Books. Maybe it was just me.

The book is not terrifyingly original, it does fit fairly well into that genre of post-K'und'K novel. But it's incredibly perceptive, evocative, warm and human. Sure, the sentences can be bit, long winded and teutonic, musings often stretched out for longer than they should and some pieces of composition do not quite fit perfectly. But t
Czytając Gronostaja miałam nieodparte wrażenie, że trzymam w rękach lekturę. Zarówno w dobrym, jak i złym sensie. Styl pisarski von Rezzori'ego jest bardzo specyficzny; długie, pełne dygresji, często malarskie, opisy w połączeniu z wielojęzycznymi wtrętami sprawiły, że byłam zmuszona czytać bardzo powoli i z pełnym skupieniem. Do tego kontekst społeczno-historyczny Europy dwudziestolecia międzywojennego, o którym mam niewielkie pojęcie... Co tu dużo gadać, książka mnie przerosła. Dobrnęłam do ko ...more
Jan 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015
An unexpected gem that is definitely not for everyone. Proustian in its discourse on childhood and memory and like Cervantes with its hapless hero. Beautifully written, sometimes disturbing, often funny with a cast of unforgettable characters, the novel evokes the lost world of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire between the World Wars. At its center is the city of Czneropol, raucous, multi-ethnic, often anti-semitic; a city whose greatest virtue is its laughter. It's a challenging novel without much ...more
Peter Edelman
Aug 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is not my favorite von Rezzori book but he remains one of the most insightful writers writing about 20th century Europe. He sees a dark underside, a humorous side, so many parts all colliding but somehow gives the reader a real understanding of what's been lost. Really an Austo-German from Romania of at least some Italian ancestry, he himself was a kind of Central European that used to exist before the world wars destroyed this type.
Brent Hayward
Jan 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
A complex, meandering story of a Ukrainian town, post WW1, populated by an eclectic cast of oddballs. Seen through the eyes of a child, the people of Czernopol, primarily Tildy-- an officer who challenges one person too many to a duel and gets sent to the asylum-- are sad, grotesque, and ultimately doomed. The prose is dense and smart and the whole thing culminates in a darkly funny scene of drunken rampage, prostitutes, and tragedy.
Apr 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Wonderful book, thronged with memorable characters and incidents and beautifully structured.
Jul 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
Completely bonkers
Frank Wolfe
Darkly humorous, translation from the German seems well done and propels the reader forward
Kobe Bryant
Jul 31, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book is pretty cool, he goes off on tangents a lot and makes fun of the Germans
Jonathan Huizinga
rated it it was ok
Jan 27, 2018
rated it really liked it
Jul 09, 2012
Jesse K
rated it it was amazing
Mar 16, 2014
rated it really liked it
Mar 23, 2015
rated it liked it
Feb 28, 2012
rated it liked it
Jun 11, 2013
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NYRB Classics: An Ermine in Czernopol, by Gregor von Rezzori 1 6 Oct 22, 2013 09:31PM  
  • Amsterdam Stories
  • The World as I Found It
  • Mouchette
  • Berlin Stories
  • Conquered City
  • Witch Grass
  • The Tale of the 1002nd Night
  • Sunflower
  • Basti
  • The Lord Chandos Letter: And Other Writings
  • Irretrievable
  • Diary of a Man in Despair
  • La Confusion des sentiments
  • Walter Benjamin: The Story of a Friendship
  • Mawrdew Czgowchwz
  • Short Letter, Long Farewell
  • The Island of Second Sight
  • Transit
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

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“Dealing with people, my friends, is really nothing more than a question of the price that one is willing to pay. The better you understand life, the more capital you build.” 11 likes
“Besides, please bear in mind that no one with anything to say ever said anything about anybody but himself.” 1 likes
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