THE SKIES OF EUROPE by Frederic Prokosch


Email this review


This is, no doubt, the biggest book Prokosch has done, assured of an important press, but fully as difficult to sell as any of his previous books. It is unquestionably the most beautiful prose of the year. It is also, unquestionably, the finest portrait of Europe before the war that has been done, not only visually, aesthetically, but going beyond that to the moods and tenors underlying the face of the continent. But it is primarily a portrait -- a panorama; there is almost no plot (a serious obstacle for the average reader). The central character is Europe -- France, Germany, Austria, Spain; the theme -- the shadows darkening her skies. Through the odyssey of Philip, (alias the author) inordinately appreciative, aware, intuitive, one gets a picture of the continent -- of the unsettled, variegated patterns of the cities, past and present, of much that is hollow, restless, inchoate. There is Paris, brilliant, graceful, living on dead traditions and empty modernisms; there is Munich, flat, musty, feverish; there is the Austrian village near Salzburg, immuring itself against the outer world; there is Spain at war, and scenes which overshadow Hemingway by far. There are people, but only incidentally, as embodiments of the changes undergone in each country. And there is Saskia, whom Philips loves, loses, and finds again, adroit, volatile, charming Saskia with her power to love -- and destroy. A brilliant book, but a book for intellectual or aesthetic appreciation, rather than general enjoyment.

Pub Date: Aug. 8th, 1941
Publisher: Harper