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By Hans Keilson

A penetrating research of standard humans resisting the Nazi occupation—and, precise to its name, a depressing comedy of wartime manners—Comedy in a Minor Key tells the tale of Wim and Marie, a Dutch couple who first conceal a Jew they understand as Nico, then needs to get rid of his physique whilst he dies of pneumonia. This novella, first released in 1947 and now translated into English for the 1st time, indicates Hans Keilson at his most sensible: deeply ironic, penetrating, sympathetic, and brilliantly smooth, an inheritor to Joseph Roth and Franz Kafka. In 2008, while Keilson bought Germany's prestigious Welt Literature Prize, the quotation praised his paintings for exploring "the harmful impulse at paintings within the 20th century, all the way down to its private mental and non secular ramifications."

Published to rejoice Keilson's hundredth birthday, Comedy in a Minor Key—and The dying of the Adversary, reissued in paperback—will introduce American readers to a forgotten vintage writer, a witness to global conflict II and a cosmopolitan storyteller whose books stay as clean as once they first got here to gentle.

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Mais la mort qui la rompt nous guérira du désir de l'immortalité” (Albertine, 308).  The archangel, the prayer, the aspiration, the terms “ideal” and “essence,” and the “mystical experience” of the previous sentence all signal clearly a religious sense in which the unique beauty and world compose a type of Paradise.  Another note says simply: “Salvation” (Swann I, 291). , WWR I, book I, § 27, and book IV, § 53).  And “pensum” will recur in many later works. In Proust, then, Beckett shows himself deeply dependent upon Schopen­hauer not only for terms and passages but for the shaping of a view of life.

James Knowlson's biography has shone bright sunlight on these occult psychological concerns. ”All four works reveal a writer centrally interested in the psyche but unsure of how to dramatize it and all too willing to settle for heavily metaphorical descriptions.  Eliot had praised Joyce's use of the Odyssey in Ulysses and had acknowledged his own uses of such material in The Waste Land.  Jolas relevantly reports Beckett's joining with a few other artists, including his friend MacGreevy, in signing Jolas's manifesto Poetry Is Vertical (1932), which “sought freedom from the purely materialistic conceptions then in vogue’’ (16).

Even his apparently gratuitous phrase “socii malorum” comes from Schopenhauer, from “Additional Remarks on the Doctrine of the Suffering of the World” (Parerga and Paralipomena II, 304).  Nevertheless, Beckett was faithful to Schopen­hauer's pessimism and to his ideas about the will and the intellect.  But Proust's Mme de Cambremer says, “Relisez ce que Schopenhauer dit de la musique” (TR II, 195), and Beckett took her advice.  Therefore, he concludes, that untaken walk to Doncières might have prefigured one's arrival in Paradise: “On rêve beaucoup du paradis, ou plutôt de nombreux paradis successifs, mais ce sont tous, bien avant qu'on ne meure, des paradis perdus, et où l'on se sentirait perdu” (S & G I, 349).

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