Landscapes of the Metropolis of Death
Otto Dov Kulka
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Otto Dov Kulka's Landscapes of the Metropolis of Death, translated by Ralph Mandel, is a memoir of astounding literary and emotional power, exploring the permanent and indelible marks left by the Holocaust and a childhood spent in Auschwitz. As a child the distinguished historian Otto Dov Kulka was sent first to the ghetto of Theresienstadt and then to Auschwitz. As one of the few survivors he has spent much of his life studying Nazism and the Holocaust, but always as a discipline requiring the greatest dispassion and objectivity, with his personal story set to one side. He has nevertheless remained haunted by specific memories and images, thoughts he has been unable to shake off. The extraordinary result of this is Landscapes of the Metropolis of Death - a unique and powerful experiment in how one man has tried to understand his past (and our history). Reviews: “This is one of the most remarkable testimonies to inhumanity that I know.The deeply moving recollections of Dov Kulka's boyhood years in Auschwitz, interwoven with reflections of elegiac, poetic quality, vividly convey the horror of the death-camp, the trauma of family and friends, and the indelible imprint left on the memory of a young boy who became a distinguished historian of the Holocaust. An extraordinarily important work which needs to be read”. (Sir Ian Kershaw). ""Astonishing...[Landscapes] is, quite simply, extraordinary ...a sort of Modernist precipitate of a historical work, something strange and powerful formed from, but separate to, the solution of history...I can't see how this book could be bettered"". (Robert Eaglestone, Times Higher Education). ""Almost unclassifiable...Nothing else I have read comes close to this profound examination of what the Holocaust means...[Kulka's] journey strikes me as a quest similar to the attempt to describe the face of God or the structure of the universe. They are too vast and too mysterious. Not that this stops us, or this author, from trying"". (Linda Grant, New Statesman). “Primo Levi's testimony, it is often said, is that of a chemist: clear, cool, precise, distant.So with Kulka's work: this is the product of a master historian - ironic, probing, present in the past, able to connect the particular with the cosmic. His memory is in the service of deep historical understanding, rendered in evocative prose that is here eloquently translated from Hebrew”. (Thomas Laqueur, Guardian). “Beautiful, startling...This is a great book: read it. And be grateful - its publication is, in every possible sense, a miracle...This is not history, it is something else”. (Bryan Appleyard, Sunday Times). “Kulka's reflections have an unsettling rawness ...yet even in Auschwitz, there are moments of protest, black humour and beauty...This is a grave, poetic and horrifying account of the Holocaust which does not so much revisit the Auschwitz of the past, but the Auschwitz of Kulka's inner world”. (Arifa Akbar, Independent). ""Unlike any other first-hand account written about the camps...[Kulka] has done the rest of us - and the world - so great a kindness by writing his book ...offering the barest glint of sunlight amid a thunderous darkness"". (Simon Schama, Financial Times). About the author: Otto Dov Kulka was born in Czechoslovakia in 1933.He is Professor Emeritus at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
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