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

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 220 pages
  • Publisher: Dufour Editions; First Thus edition (May 16 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802313280
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802313287
  • Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 15.2 x 22.2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 322 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #3,520,158 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Kirkus Reviews

Moment Of Freedom ($15.95 paperback original; May 17; 218 pp.; 0-8023-1328-0): A new translation of the 1966 novel that begins Norwegian master Bjrneboes celebrated History of Bestiality trilogy. That highly charged phrase is also the title of the 12-volume anatomy of human depravity compiled by its protagonist, a morose court clerk whose saturnine psyche essentially resembles that of Dostoevskys misanthropic Underground Man. But this novel, like Dostoevskys, is much more than simple rant, for Bjrneboe skillfully juxtaposes jeremiads leveled at global iniquities (Nazism, the bombing of Hiroshima) with his narrators memories of encounters with vividly depicted and variously flawed other people, as well as of his own failings and hypocrisies. The result is harshly comic and richly disturbing fictionand one eagerly awaits the forthcoming later volumes of the trilogy. -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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Top 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: HASH(0x9fbd9f18) out of 5 stars 3 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9fc140a4) out of 5 stars Flawed, but Horrifyingly Real April 5 2003
By Gary Kern - Published on Amazon.com
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.

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 fulfill 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.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9fc14200) out of 5 stars 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!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9f6001c8) out of 5 stars 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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