Saturday, October 24, 2009

Memorable Friendship

by Fred Uhlman

He came into my life in February 1932 and never left it again. . . I can remember the day and the hour when I first set eyes on this boy who was to be the source of my greatest happiness and of my greatest despair.
- Fred Uhlman, Reunion, p. 11

Arthur Koestler, one of my favorite authors, described this novella as a "minor masterpiece". I would agree and as such it is a perceptive short novel about friendship. However, set in the 1930s in Stuttgart, it is also a tragedy and a story about love. The narrator , Hans Schwarz, is the son of a Jewish doctor and the grandson of a rabbi, and forms an intense friendship with Konradin von Hohefels, the young aristocrat in his class. A year later everything is over . Nothing remarkable between the two adolescents has happened.  The two boys were attending high school, one was a Jewish intellectual from the middle class while the other was a young aristocratic gentile. The story is as moving as the friendship is unremarkable, yet it lingers in one's memory. It is a literary miniature that is as moving as books more than twice its size. .

Reunion by Fred Uhlman. Collins & Harvill Press, London. 1977

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