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The Germans looked the least concerned: a huge country with a fearsome army. When my grandfather spoke of , we would listen with bored half-smiles: it was all so alien to us, so far removed from us. This was the twentieth century!

Roads to the Great War: The Burning of the World: A Memoir of reviewed by David F. Beer

Europe at equilibrium in the era of enlightenment and democratic humanism. It seemed impossible that a dispute should be decided by fighting. The ironies begin to multiply.


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Within pages it becomes obvious that here is a remarkable narrative, a real treasure, a book everyone should read. Both convey the initial disbelief that a great empire could ever be challenged, and both express the sorrow at realising that not only could it be threatened, that it could collapse for ever.

Soon after, he finds himself in the army and likely to see action. A ceremonial parade accompanied by resounding marches.

Book Review: 'The Burning of the World' by Béla Zombory-Moldován

Crowds had turned out to shower us with flowers. Beside me marched little Drafi, the gypsy, who pattered away on his drum. I told him to stop it, but it was oddly cheering. Just what I needed! It is an idiotic decision. Marvellous colours on the shadows. At one point in a little town he is billeted in a Jewish shop and he notices a scattered stamp collection on the floor. I pick a few of them up. You can see they have been carefully handled.

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Someone looked after them fondly. The noise of the fighting shocks him as much as seeing bodies blown to pieces before his eyes. He looks at the faces of the soldiers.

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They glare at life. His luck does hold out amid the carnage, until the inevitable moment. There is a silence so deep that I think I have gone deaf. The literature of the Great War is indeed rich in poetry and powerful images. We use cookies to personalise content, target and report on ads, to provide social media features and to analyse our traffic.


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I am very glad I read this book. It is a valuable edition to WW I memoir literature. After graduating from the Academy of Fine Arts in Budapest, he established himself as a painter, illustrator, and graphic artist. Wounded in action in as a junior officer on the eastern front, he served the rest of the First World War in non-combatant duties.

He was a successful painter, especially of portraits, during the interwar years, and was the principal of the Budapest School of Applied Arts from until his dismissal by the Communist regime in Out of official favor and artistic fashion in the postwar years, he devoted himself to the quiet landscapes in oils and watercolor that are his finest work. The writing of his recently discovered memoirs probably also dates from those years of seclusion.

Recently discovered among private papers and published here for the first time in any language, this extraordinary reminiscence by a young artist, drafted into the bloody combat of the First World War, is a deeply moving addition to the literature of the terrible conflict that defined the shape of the twentieth century. Email This BlogThis! Labels: Hungary.