THE MUTE by Otto F. Walter


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In an expectedly excellent translation from the German by Michael Bullock, this first novel by a Swiss writer deals with fairly intractable material both in its theme and its setting, a construction site in the Jura where the stone, dust, mud, rain and wind lend further difficulties to the attempt to build a road up through the mountains. Joining the road gang is a mute, anxious to find and perhaps reach his father who is working on it and who is responsible for the traumatic experience in his childhood (he had seen his father strike his mother) which had made him inarticulate ever since. During the two week interval of the novel, day by day, the present is blurred by memories of the past; while little happens, there is a sense of expectation of ""subterranean tension"" until at the close, blasting through the wall of rock, the Mute regains his speech in an anguished attempt to save his father whom he kills accidentally.... There are passages of graphic descriptive power (this book won a European prize) but it is chill and cheerless, and the casual reader may be further estranged by the spectral jacket.

Pub Date: Oct. 31st, 1962
Publisher: Grove