Adam's Reviews > The Violin of Auschwitz

The Violin of Auschwitz by Maria Àngels Anglada
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Apr 28, 2012

it was ok

On the back of this slender volume, Tatiana de Rosnay is quoted as having said, "Read this little book and it will haunt you for ever." Having read it, I doubt that it will.

Everything that is described in this brief, concisely written novel might have possibly happened in the peculiar atmosphere that reigned in Auschwitz. Yet for me, the narrative voice did not ring true.

Daniel was a maker of stringed musical instruments before he entered the Nazi concentration camp system in Auschwitz. When, quite by chance, the commandant of the particular camp in which Daniel was interned discovers that he had a skilled instrument-maker amongst his inmates, he orders Daniel to make a violin, which has the quality of a Stradivarius. Daniel begins this task, and eventually learns that his life depends on him producing the instrument. He discovers that his life is part of a wager made between the commandant and the camp's doctor. If he is unable to make the violin, he learns that will be handed over to the doctor who is keen to use him in one of his inhumane, usually lethal, experiments.

The plot is good as far as it goes, but I did not like the way that the book was written. It seemed to me that the authoress had done a great deal of reading about the Holocaust ('Shoah'), and that it affected her deeply enough to want to express her reactions to it by writing a novel. I have also read much about this tragic episode of 20th century history, but did not feel that Maria Angels Anglada was able to evoke the gloomy, hopeless atmosphere of the camps with as well as writers such as Primo Levi and David Ben-Dor (who were, it must be said, survivors of the concentration camps).

In brief, this book added little or nothing to my appreciation of the horrific nature of the Nazi's crimes against humanity during the 1930s and 1940s, and I cannot recommend it as being worth reading, even though it takes little time to read.
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Shelley Read this novella last year and I did enjoy the symbolism of the violin, although I agree it is not in the league of the works of Weil, Levi and other survivor chroniclers. Different.


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