Many on trains and trucks Hitler had praised the bravery and fight Apartment in Athens is xtraordinary Glenway Wescott narrates the story of a Greek family forced to billet a dictatorial German uartermaster officer and pseudo intellectual after the Nazi occupation of Greece Compelled to dote on this ostentatious German named Kalter the once respectable family Nikolas Helianos his wife and their two children find themselves nslaved in their own small apartment in the middle of Athens which uickly becomes the only world they can identify with and understand With its heady treatment of the complicated dynamic between Kalter Helianos and his wife the xpressive prose of Glenway Wescott at once both stifles you like thick noxious smoke and touches you kindly with its keen sense of human Murder at the Mansion emotion Wescott is a masterful writer with a remarkable ability to convey the pressures and anxieties of absolute physical andmotional domination complete with the utter humiliation and sense of brokenness suffered by those who are forced to ndure it He never shrinks from the horrific realities of life in Athens under the Nazis with vivid scenes of maciated children mass murder and starvation peppered in between the veryday stressors and fears suffered by the Helianos family Still despite brief yet provocative references to the German occupation of Greece in broad historical terms Wescott is primarily concerned with the small unimportant lives of the tormented Helianoses and their uncertain relationship with Captain Kalter who casts a spell and a snare onto his Greek hosts The Helianoses are at times morbidly fascinated with the man and after his metamorphosis into a relatively kind and ven tempered fellow after his return from a two week leave in Germany he and Helianos Seductive Surrender (Highland Heather Romancing a Scot, even converse as amicable acuaintances for a short time before Helianos fatal conversationalrror Still while Wescott zooms in on this unlikely uintet in an overcrowded apartment Athens as the backdrop for his drama is not unimportant Mrs Helianos relationship with the Parthenon in particular plays a critical role in her comprehension of her own fortitude and resilience in response to Kalter in her home The Parthenon with no nerves and no flesh on its bones no soft venerable bosom and no veins or arteries the worst having happened to it for centuries still there it stood It was a small comfort but Mrs Helianos took comfort in it Later toward the very nd of the novel and with gone for good the archaeological remains voke a response Then if she had cared to she might have taken another look at the Acropolis the temple in a blur the hill in a black veil her great reminder her worst keepsake She consciously kept her back turned to the window Despite Helianos dominant role in the first half of the novel by the nd of Apartment in Athens his wife has become its real heroine vident by her transformation
from a passive unreflective housewife into an introspective self confident head of the a passive unreflective housewife into an introspective self confident head of the who refuses to kowtow to the severe demands of the men in her life While her volution is by no means complete we leave her with unrealized romantic notions about her son Alex and hopeful for a far fetched ncounter with her cousin in law Petros she has nevertheless The Deepest Sin endured whatven she herself never thought possible Thus she saw herself lifted up above who she was and what she was in the increase of drama in her life and it was as proud as a mystic vision In the words of David Leavitt in his introduction to the book Wescott created one of literature s most unlikely heroines in Mrs Helianos possessed of a resilience a resourcefulness and a courage that surprise ven her She completes Apartment in Athens making it one of the most thought provoking and disturbing war novels ver to have been written During the Nazi occupation of Greece the Helianos family a middle class Athenian family of four is forced to house a German officer in their midst After a year and a half of an humiliating and. Reek couple in Nazi occupied Athens who are forced to share their uarters with a German. .
At times brutal relationship the officer has a two weeks license in Germany and returns apparently changed That the change was not as through as Mr Helianos came to believe he found out at his peril in a rather unexpected way I found this book to be an xtremely beautiful work where the violence and inhumanity of war not xactly the battles but the humiliation that comes with occupation by foreign forces with unchecked power is treated with an utmost restrain but maybe xactly because of that with an incredible ffectiveness The claustrophobic and difficult life of the Helianos couple and the way Mrs Helianos reacts to the disgrace that befalls upon her after her husband arrest is a moving portrait of the xtraordinary ways people can surpass their limitations and fears when faced with xtraordinary circumstances Originally published in 1945 An Apartment in Athens is a book that stood the test of time and has become a minor classic that should be much widely read Sublime large portions of this book are sheer brilliance Esp fascinating to me was the meditation on the lyrical aspects of the Nazi
self consciousness in Ch 9 Though often criticized for having written so little a lifeconsciousness in Ch 9 Though often criticized for having written so little a life produced this book and Pilgram Hawk surely was not wasted Wescott was a craftsman of the highest order and the ffort may simply have tired him outAt any rate a real gem I had mixed feelings about this novel about the Greek resistance during WWII NYRB has published two titles with Glenway Westcott as the writer the first one was The Pilgrim Hawk which in my opinion is a masterpiece and one of the perfect xamples of the American novella Even though this one was uite njoyable it seemed to me that some of the writing styles that had dazzled the readers of the other book
had fallen short of xpectations in this one The story tellsfallen short of Le valeureux guerrier expectations in this one The story tells the plight of the Greeks during the German occupation of Athens and is in particular about the trials and tribulations of the Helianos family who were actively involved in the resistance The first part of the story deals with the family living together with thenemy as a part of their house was let out to a German major who later on commits suicide owing to personal tragedy It depicts the small family and the Snowflakes on the Sea enemy spending their lives together under the same roof The latter halfspecially after the major s suicide is about the persecution of the family as they come under the radar of German suspicion as traitors to Nazi propaganda After the husband s conviction and later after he is shot by Nazis the novel concludes with the unfinished agenda of the brave Greek nation continuing their undying war against the Nazi tyrants and usurpers This is well writtenit s Glenway Wescott who is fairly incapable of writing poorly But Wrathful Chaos: Five Books of Satanic Philosophy everything about the story made me uncomfortable anxious agitated disturbed and depressed and I couldn t wait for it tond I m sure I was just reading it at the wrong moment for me I heartily recommend it to others First of all an absolutely legant writer The book was somehow published in 1944 It concerns a family in Athens subjected to all the humiliations of the Nazi occupation Helianos and his wife and two children are forced to billet Captain Kalter later Major Kalter He starts out a tyrant then softens The softening is due to the death of his two sons and his wife in the war Helianos who has also lost a son in the war in a late night heart to heart with the stricken Kalter states his hatred of Hitler and Mussolini for bringing such misery on the world Our softened Kalter immediately has him arrested Kalter then kills himself but ven in death he does all he can to bring misery on Helianos and his family Never trust Greeks bearing gifts is translated to Never trust Germans ver Helianos is xecuted His wife then works to get Alex her small and somewhat defective child into the resistance There is no compromise no half measures with Nazi Germany One of the best books I ve read in years I plan to read by Wescott. Officer Wescott stages a drama of accommodation and rejection resistance and compulsio. ,
I don t know why I
READ THIS FROM MIDNIGHT UNTILthis from midnight until am last night at Humanism: The Greek Ideal and its Survival every chapter break thinking with cold nausea aboutverything I have to get done before Friday and then resolutely plunging into another chapter But it s an astonishing little Love 2.0 (A Cates Brothers Book, exercise deceptivelyxpository and actually scary as hell Nelson Algren is in here also Paul Bowles I liked it a lot What happened to Glenway Wescott s literary reputation It is a mysteryETA Oh so here s what happened Whilst this story was The Fix extremely well written and I was intrigued by the premise of the novel I have to say that overall it wasn t annjoyable read There was an overpowering feel of opression and claustrophobia within this story without any uplifting moments to alleviate the unrelenting grimness I found it very difficult to appreciate the major characters here because I am a religious woman I pray very day for my little children doomed to die she had said turning around and addressing Mrs Helianos I pray for them to die fasterWestcott s writing is stark urgent and brutal The inhumanity of the circumstance of the novel the Nazi occupation of Greece is reflected in his conomy of languageIt is true that in all our human attachments based on nothing but blood relationship there are strict limitations inherent disappointmentsI found myself underlining passages on almost very other page a sentence construction or articulated consideration that I wanted to return to and marvel over again and againFor he felt that it was a great decision this forgiveness not at all forced or against his will but simply against his very instinct It is a grave decision when you take the good will for the deed when you yield to the mistaken inhuman brain or the harmful tongue because there is a kind heart behind it accepting things that you hate with nothing to make them acceptable Desire in Seven Voices except that riddle of the spirit which has prompted them contenting yourself with good intentions whether they are according to your mortality or not whether they are to your advantage or notThere is so much within an Apartment in Athens that is stirring It is a uiet horror story claustrophobic doomed devastating Yet at the same time Westcott has imbued his tale with a fearless optimism that carries the reader through the foreboding toach fresh injury to ach clear and striking observationI do not suppose that the Americans are indifferent to their fate and danger I think that their worst mistake must lie in their hope of getting peace stablished for all time as if it were a natural law needing no nforcement so that they can relax and be frivolous and forget it When they see that this is not possible then they lose hope altogether They give it all up as a bad job and yield to their cynicism and fatalism It is what happened after the other war What on arth do they mean when they speak of peace forever Naturally it can only be a little at a time with good luck and with an ffort and great vigilance and good management day by day year after year Life is like that verything on arth is like that have the Americans and the British forgotten Tell Petros whenever he hears foolish political men babbling about permanent peace to ask them what about permanent life Do they believe in that too What about permanent love permanent health permanent talent When we are sick and we go to see a doctor do we xpect him to promise us immortality When he prescribes some medicine do we have to be persuaded that it is a panacea an lixir before we take any of it Glenway Wescott is one of those high uality writers that few people know about I think This might be his best novel I tried another one Grandmothers which I did not appreciate much but Apartment in Athens I thought is a masterpiece about the Nazi occupation of Athens When I lived in Athens in the 1960s 70s and until now whenever I visit there I am reminded of the German occupation The Germans looted and robbed Athenians as well as much of the rest of Greece and sent what they could to Ger. Apartment in Athens concerns an unusual triangular relationship In this story about a