[simpleazon-image align=”left” asin=”0312263767″ locale=”us” height=”500″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51czai5HgdL.jpg” width=”326″][simpleazon-link asin=”0312263767″ locale=”us”]The Pianist: The Extraordinary True Story of One Man’s Survival in Warsaw, 1939-1945[/simpleazon-link] by Władysław Szpilman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The Pianist is not the average memoir. Szpilman tells his story of endurance, horror, and survival without emotion. He is matter-of-fact in his recitation which somehow makes the reading more shocking. He himself appears to have been in shock, writing down the events of 1939-1945 in Warswaw, Poland as if in an attempt to purge himself of the unimaginable. As a pianist before and after the war, Szpilman provides an insiders view to the artistic community that was active in Warsaw, and an accounting of some of the tragic losses incurred by him and the world at large as the result of Jewish persecution. While he tells of the destruction of the great city of Warsaw and the horrific persecution of the Jewish population, his story is intensely personal. While I felt there were some loose ends to the story, I was astonished that he could tell it at all. His vivid recollections were painful to read. The stories, the images, become those of the reader. His nightmare is bared to the world, but so is his ultimate triumph. Some stories must see the light of day despite all odds. This is one of those stories.
“I lost two illusions here: my belief in our general solidarity and in the musicality of the Jews” (p. 13).
“Several centuries of humanitarian progress were to be cancelled out, and we were back in the Middle Ages” (p. 54).
“I had to laugh at the ingenuity of fate” (p. 158).
“This time my situation was absurd. I was going to be shot by Polish soldiers in liberated Warsaw, on the very verge of freedom, as the result of a misunderstanding” (p. 185).
For more information:
The Pianist – Wladyslaw Szpilman – Homepage
For Book Clubs:
READING GROUP GUIDE
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And these are the books that define “classic”. Shocking memoirs with horrors we wish weren’t true, but are. Thanks for the review!
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