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POST-WAR  AUSTRIAN  WRITERS                   533

countries, particularly of England - he has been dubbed a 'Wahl-
engldnder\ The dominating figure is a fiercely sexed Englishwoman
who can find no man fit to satisfy her.

HERBERT ŁAND (1923- ) is a new Austrian author who is striking
out into new paths. LeAtf* Ausfahrt (1953) was hailed as the book
of the year, and it has fairly correctly been described as the first
German novel to give an epic description of the Second World
War. It might be more correct to say that it attempts a merciless
description of war as it is today with all its heaped horrors and its
reduction of man to beast. But, though the handling is brutally
realistic, this 'Roman der Emgekesseltetf aims at being an interpre-
tation of life as it is bound to be, whether in war or out of it; war
is just a symbol of cosmic plan and pressure. The range of fighting
is narrowed down to some town or other on the German front
hemmed in by encircling forces vaguely indicated by scraps of
language as Russian. Life in the cauldron (Kessel) is whipped up
to hectic incoherence till surrender can no longer be staved off.
The concept is that we are all of us and always hemmed in within
a narrow space of action, frantically seeking reali2ation of self but
with hostile forces pressing in on us. If finally there is escape it can
only be into the mystery of infinity, into the Fourth Dimension.
For to this battle of hostile forces corresponds the inner conflict
of personality: Jeder ist sein signer Kessel. We struggle on with all
our faults and failings, which close in upon us until they grip us
in a ring from which there is no break-out. Thus presented this
vision of life as we are said to live it is not depressing - for it is
heroic. But there is no idealization whatever of the characters;
although collectively considered they are a molten mass of driven
humanity we see them separately, vividly differentiated, and we
follow their winding fate till it wraps them round. The epic of
instinctive - indeed of forced - heroism is, however, not Homeric;
it is raw but real. It may be that Zand has done for the last war
what Henri Barbusse did for the 1914-18 war with his novel Le
Feu; at all events both novels stand out by their sheer originality
of conception and technique. But Zand's narration is so whipped
and crowded and episodic that it lacks clarity. The love interest is
merely physical; this, of course, fits in with the concept: what
pleasures we snatch at random in this cauldron come only from
the play 'of chance. Zand's next novel, Der Weg nach Hassi el emel
(1956), might be classed as a Freudian thriller in plain language;