Comedy in a Minor KeyBook |
A classic is reborn.
Originally published in 1947 and restored to life in a new translation in 2010, Hans Keilson's Comedy in a Minor Key tells the story of Wim and Marie, a mild-mannered couple in Nazi-occupied Holland who harbor a Jewish man, "Nico," in their home. What begins for them as an act of compassion in keeping with their moral code ends up an experience that leaves them rattled to their very foundations. In economical, lucid prose, Keilson brilliantly mines the challenges facing these three desperate people: the maddening impingement of rituals and routines necessary to keep Nico's presence hidden from the public; the panic and paranoia that a constant state of worry produces; the inevitability of good will under harsh circumstances becoming tainted by resentment. When Nico dies from pneumonia—in the first chapter, no less—the couple is forced to dispose of his body in a public park and run the risk of leaving a trail that could lead back to them. At once sympathetic and nerve-wracking, Comedy in a Minor Key is a taut, tense drama, and a penetrating portrait of a timid couple who have forced themselves into an act of bravery they aren't prepared for. Keilson fled from Germany in 1936 to what was to become Nazi-occupied Holland, and recently died in the Netherlands at the age of 101, but not before witnessing the return of his justly acclaimed work to print.