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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

Glorious Nemesis

Ladislav Klíma

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To purchase Glorious Nemesis

Title: Glorious Nemesis
Author: Ladislav Klíma
Genre: Novel
Written: (1932) (Eng. 2011)
Length: 126 pages
Original in: Czech
Availability: Glorious Nemesis - US
Glorious Nemesis - UK
Glorious Nemesis - Canada
Glorious Nemesis - India
Némésis la glorieuse - France
  • Czech title: Slavná Nemesis
  • Translated by Marek Tomin
  • Illustrated by Pavel Rut
  • First published posthumously, in 1932

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Our Assessment:

B+ : appealing feverish grotesque

See our review for fuller assessment.

The complete review's Review:

       Glorious Nemesis is a tale of obsession and passion -- and dissociation from reality. As the main character says:

what is a dream except the continuation of reality, or is reality the continuation of the dream ?
       And, indeed, the whole novel moves along this continuum.
       The protagonist is Sider, a wealthy twenty-eight-year old when the story begins. He can afford to be capricious, and when he visits the Alpine town of Cortona in the spring and spends there three days that: "were the most enchanting of his life" he decides that he'll wrap up his affairs back home and then take up permanent residency here. When he returns, however, he is soon disappointed -- the magic seems to be gone from this place -- and he's about ready to pack it in and leave when he sees two women, one of whom:
was entirely, entirely the epitome of his dream vision, as if his phantasm had metamorphosed into a hallucination -- --
       Then, of course, he has to try to seek them out -- which proves harder than he imagined. He learns the name of one of the women -- Mrs. Errata S., rentier -- but has a hard time getting closer on their trail. When he sees them climbing the local peak, Stag's Head, he gives chase -- but his vision continues to prove elusive.
       Sider's obsession costs him most of his fortune -- he did not attend to a crisis in time, chasing the women instead -- and so suddenly he is no longer a man free to do as he pleases. He has to work, then parlays a small inheritance into another fortune, but the years fly by -- and he remains haunted by the woman. Age forty he suddenly: "sees Her in reality" -- at least he thinks he does, though even he wonders whether it was: "Hallucination or reality ?" -- and sets out on his obsessive quest again.
       Sider learns the name of the creature he can't get out of his mind: Orea. Another, equally obsessed, is already in a mental institution (where Sider visits her) because of her: "conviction that Orea is a higher -- more real -- reality". Sider, too, is tormented by his vision:
he still loved Orea, with horror, and he loved his horror and abhorred his loving, and it was driving him more and more mad
       Forced to go on the run for years when he is sought for murder and assault, he can't escape his obsession -- and isn't sure he wants to. But Orea also remains a mystery-figure, whose exact nature long remains beyond his grasp -- and when he uncovers the secret behind her being ... well, it's not really the answer he was hoping for.
       Klíma's novel revels in the grotesque and hallucinatory with its flights of fancy and abandon. "Everything's a dream, hee hee", an old crone reminds Sider, but Klíma anchors his protagonist in reality just enough to keep the story grounded. Still, it is a wild, febrile fantasy. While such a protracted rush of feverish obsession -- even as the years zip by, he remains possessed -- can be wearing, Klíma does do this sort of thing well.
       Both metaphysically and stylistically intriguing, Glorious Nemesis is a work that belongs alongside those by E.T.A. Hoffmann and his heirs -- Meyrink and Leo Perutz (at their most daring), Kubin, and the like. Curious stuff, and very much of its time, it's nevertheless quite fascinating.

- M.A.Orthofer, 20 December 2011

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Glorious Nemesis: Reviews: Other books by Ladislav Klíma under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Ladislav Klíma (1878-1928) was an influential Czech author and philosopher.

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