"A dozen years after his death Borislav Pekic is acclaimed as one of the greatest writers in the Serbian language." --<i>New York Times</i>
"Northwestern University Press should be commended for its series Writings from an Unbound Europe, in which Pekic's novels and dozens of other first-rate works of fiction in translation from the former Communist countries of Eastern Europe have appeared and continue to appear." --<i>New York Review of Books</i>
"A brilliant and complex satire." --Slavic and East European Journal
Published to acclaim in 1977, this controversial novel of ideas follows Konrad Rutkowski-professor of medieval history and former Gestapo officer-as he returns to the scene of his war crimes determined to renounce, or perhaps justify, his Nazi past. In a series of letters to a brother-in-law, Rutkowski lays out his ambivalent reactions to war and unthinkable violence, connecting his own swirling ideas to those of some of the major figures of European thought: Plato, St. Augustine, Descartes, Nietzsche, Freud, and others.
But the novel is more than an intellectual meditation. Pekiƒ was himself a frequent political agitator and occasional prisoner, and he drew on his first hand knowledge of police methods and life under totalitarianism to paint a chilling portrait of an intellectual acting as a tool of repression. At the same time he questions whether Rutkowski's ideology puts him outside the philosophical tradition he so admires-or if the line separating it from totalitarianism is not as clear as we like to think.