One has just been sent out as a biblical dove, has found nothing green, and slips back
into the darkness of the ark -- Kafka

Sunday, August 28, 2011

"Beware of Pity": How Does It End?

Perhaps as one might expect: Edith finally does do herself in (over the balustrade). But there's a feverish back-and-forth to the whole ride that makes the read quite exhilarating.

The ending is wonderfully fused with the events of WWI (e.g., Hofmiller is trying to get through to Condor by phone when Archduke Ferdinand is murdered), and Hofmiller loses himself in the frenzy of the war:
   Melodramatic phrases revolt me. So I am not going to say that I sought death. I shall only say that I did not fear it, or at least feared it less than most people, for there were moments when the thought of returning home, where I should meet those who shared the knowledge of my guilt, was more horrible to me than all the horrors of the front. 
And after the war? Hofmiller's surprised that he can go on living, and the hell of war has somehow provided him with new standards of measuring guilt:
   When those four interminable years came to an end, I discovered to my own astonishment that, despite everything, I was able to go on living in my former world. For we who had returned from hell measured everything by new standards. To have the death of a human being on one's conscience no longer meant the same to a man who had been to the front as to a man of the pre-war era. In the vast blood-bath of the war my own private guilt had been absorbed into the general guilt; for I was the same  person, it was the same eyes, the same hands, that had, after all, set up the machine-gun at Limanova which had mown down the first wave of Russian infantry to advance on our trenches, and I myself had afterwards seen through my field-glasses the hideous eyes of those whom I had been instrumental in killing, . . .
The AUSTRIAN ROYAL FAMILY with the Heir to the Austrian Throne, ARCHDUKE FRANZ FERDINAND, who was assasinated in sarejevo, which was the catalyst that started World War I. Pictures, Images and Photos

The Austrian Royal Family
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