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Moment of Freedom: The Heiligenberg Manuscript Paperback – May 16 1999


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Paperback, May 16 1999
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 220 pages
  • Publisher: Dufour Editions (May 16 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802313280
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802313287
  • Product Dimensions: 21 x 14 x 1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 322 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,681,166 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most helpful customer reviews

Format: Paperback
Jens Bjorneboe is the greatest failed novelist of the twentieth
century. His masterwork is considered the trilogy roughly called
"the History of Bestiality"--roughly, because the title actually
belongs to a twelve-volume project of his autobiographical
narrator, which is unfinished. The trilogy therefore does not
present such a history itself, but rather the experiences of
that profoundly disturbed character, along with his morbid
reflections, painful memories and alarming dreams, plus
recitations of horrible happenings drawn from his grisly
research. Not one of the novels is without structural flaws, but
each communicates a rage against cruelty and brutality with a
force that is rare in fictional literature.
MOMENT OF FREEDOM (1966) is the first of the three novels and is
virtually formless. It seems that the author cannot master his
material--the whole history of man's inhumanity to man--with a
calm analysis or fit it into a standard artistic structure, but
rather recoils in pain, retreats into dismal reflections,
indulges in sarcastic tirades, describes petty officials and
deranged villagers as monsters, relives the atrocities of the
Nazis and Communists, remembers himself wading through blood and
most of all intoxicates himself, all without any apparent order.
The effect is disorienting, but at the same time invigorating,
since it brings an electric awareness of being caught up in
something horrifyingly real. Here is someone violently
disturbed, speaking straight from the heart, grabbing you like
a bloodied, but eloquent victim of an attack. You can't expect
his urgent report to be neat and tidy.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 3 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Flawed, but Horrifyingly Real April 5 2003
By Gary Kern - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Jens Bjorneboe is the greatest failed novelist of the twentieth
century. His masterwork is considered the trilogy roughly called
"the History of Bestiality"--roughly, because the title actually
belongs to a twelve-volume project of his autobiographical
narrator, which is unfinished. The trilogy therefore does not
present such a history itself, but rather the experiences of
that profoundly disturbed character, along with his morbid
reflections, painful memories and alarming dreams, plus
recitations of horrible happenings drawn from his grisly
research. Not one of the novels is without structural flaws, but
each communicates a rage against cruelty and brutality with a
force that is rare in fictional literature.
MOMENT OF FREEDOM (1966) is the first of the three novels and is
virtually formless. It seems that the author cannot master his
material--the whole history of man's inhumanity to man--with a
calm analysis or fit it into a standard artistic structure, but
rather recoils in pain, retreats into dismal reflections,
indulges in sarcastic tirades, describes petty officials and
deranged villagers as monsters, relives the atrocities of the
Nazis and Communists, remembers himself wading through blood and
most of all intoxicates himself, all without any apparent order.
The effect is disorienting, but at the same time invigorating,
since it brings an electric awareness of being caught up in
something horrifyingly real. Here is someone violently
disturbed, speaking straight from the heart, grabbing you like
a bloodied, but eloquent victim of an attack. You can't expect
his urgent report to be neat and tidy.
You must simply follow the narrator-guide, the lowly "Servant of
Justice" of the mythical Swiss town of Heiligenberg, a man so
burdened by a mind-numbing past that he can't remember his own
name, as he records the filthy injustices of the court,
denounces the sanctimonious townsmen with his drinking buddies
at an inn called "Zum Henker" ("Go to Hell"), or wanders through
bleak memories and unidentifiable towns. Don't try to keep track
of the time, or where you are going, or whether the landscape is
real or hallucinatory. After the journey you can go back and
retrace your steps, read critical studies, then some things will
fall into place, but not all.
One pointer I will give is that the "moment of freedom" is not
an episode or a single event, but more like a category--an
opportunity for truth and contact with reality that is most
often missed. Bjorneboe relates it to the bullfighting "moment
of truth" before the sword goes through the bull's shoulder
blades. His thought is that freedom is not a relief or a
liberation from duty (there is a frightening scene of murderers
breaking out of prison), but rather an insight that brings
commitment and love for another. To deny it is to deny the
responsibility of being human, to commit a sin against the Holy
Ghost and therefore to negate "the meaning of the earth and of
the starry heavens: individuation--coming into being."
Bjorneboe believes that in the moment of truth one can take the
liberty of speaking: "An author can only fulfil his human and
social duty when he is completely and unreservedly honest. Only
when he tells the truth which only he can tell, even if it
deviates totally from the officially accepted one, only then is
he contributing anything of value at all."
This novel contributes something of value. If you are seeking
escape from celebrity books and potboilers, and wish to renew
contact with the spiritual source of real literature, start
here. The translation is perfect--so rich and flowing, you'd
think the novel were written in English. Bjorneboe told the
truth that only he could tell, and therefore is one of the
greats.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
The history of bestiality May 13 1999
By Bruno De Wachter (bruno.dewachter@forte.be) - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Somewhere in this book Bjorneboe wrote: "Within 10 years my knowledge of the world will be so big that it must lead to self-destruction." Exactly 10 years later, he committed suicide. A remarkable fact that shows which atmosphere this novel breathes. It is a semi-autobiographical story about absolute freedom and absolute loneliness - two sides of one coin. About depression, about 20th century Europe and about the bestiality of mankind. Despite its pitch-black vision on humanity, it is also a very funny book. A masterpiece in irony and cynism!
A warning piece of a word mastery Sept. 18 2013
By Miki - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is not your average pacifistic book, not at all. It is brutal, and it is, still, the most pacifistic book I ever read.

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