Comedy in a Minor Key
Hans Keilson, Scribe
This is a new translation of the 1947 novel that tells the story of Wim and Marie, a Dutch couple who take a Jew called Nico into their household to hide him from the Nazis.
The book is dedicated to such a couple that helped shelter the author in Delft.
Republished to celebrate Keilson’s 102nd birthday, it is informed by his work with Jewish children separated from their parents, his own parents’ death in Auschwitz, and a keen understanding of what happens to humans who get evicted from their normal lives, live daily with fear and become dependent on the goodwill and courage of others.
Nico contemplates how his confinement was turning him into nothing. “It was unbearable. It meant his annihilation, his human annihilation, even if it — maybe —saved his life.”
Comedy? — You’ll have to read the novel or Inga Clendinnen’s piece www.themonthly.com.au (April 2011) to understand what the title means.
Comedy in a Minor Key is a deeply insightful and masterful work.