NEVER CALL RETREAT by Joseph Freeman


Email this review


A strange book, and one which I, quite frankly, found difficult reading. It is a blend of realism-cum-symbolism, set in a unique frame, as an Austrian, nerve victim of the war, relives his life during seven months of psychoanalysis. Wrecked emotionally, mentally, physically, by the growing piled up horror of concentration camp, and the poison of hate and suspicion, even among the prisoners, he is unable to reorientate himself when he escapes to America -- and comes to the doctor. His closely packed life record is given chronologically, broken only by the recurrent segments of a strange symbolic dream, presented here as dialogue-drama, involving the historical characters and periods with which his life as a teacher had dealt, -- Eusebius, Condoroet, the French Revolution etc. The story breaks, therefore -- now patterned along somewhat routine lines as it recounts the inner conflict of a youth, interested only in the past and forced to live violently in the present, the years in concentration camp, where he became part of the underground plotting; now turning to philosophizing, recapturing of moods of the past, escape into a dream world. It is very long, closely written, with an authentic ring to the phase dealing with Austria as Nazism took stranglehold. But certainly not a book for the average reader.

Pub Date: Jan. 30th, 1942
Publisher: Farrar & Rinehart