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With Incognito, Dumitriu abandoned his more literal, traditional novels of the decadence-decline of the Rumanian elite. The Extreme Occident is set in an anonymous city in an anonymous country and from the beginning the reader may well lose his bearings. It deals with a group of expatriates (exiles can only talk, or remember) and some of them belong to an anomalous, nihilistic group; all of them juggle ideological antonyms: good/evil; freedom/tyranny; faith/agnosticism; etc, etc. Much of it seems random and all of this attitudinizing is at the expense of the action postponed almost until the end. The characters, ranging from some capitalist-conservatives down to Rachid, a failed revolutionary from an Eastern country, include not only the unnamed narrator and his wife, but his friends in exile, and--primarily--driven, distraught Annerose Brant, a ""caged archangel"" who, although dully married, wavers between Octavio, elegant and arrogant, and Axel Oevermans, scruffier in appearance and saintlier in character. The violence with which the book concludes (Rachid is assassinated; Axel killed--by the son of a rich industrialist; while Annerose submits, almost willingly it seems, to having her breasts sheared by Octavio) resolves little as has perhaps been intended. Dumitriu writes decisively enough to invest his book with a certain curiosity and thrust even though dealing with a good many abstractions which, unless more purposefully handled, are incompatible with the novel as a means of communication.

Pub Date: Sept. 9th, 1966
Publisher: Holt, Rinehart & Winston