S.S. Proleterka

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New Directions Publishing, 2003 - Fiction - 122 pages
1 Review
Compressed, delicate, but brutally precise, S. S. Proleterka is a fiercely boiled-down bildungsroman from the presiding genius of dry-ice, Fleur Jaeggy. The S. S. Proleterka is a Yugoslavian ship; our fifteen-year-old protagonist and her financially ruined, distant, yet somehow beloved father, Johannes, take a cruise together on it to Greece. With a strange telescopic perspective, narrated from the day she receives her father's ashes, our heroine recounts her youth: her re-married mother, cold and far away, allows the father the rare visit to the child, stashed away with relatives or at a school for girls. "The journey to Greece, father and daughter. The last and first chance to be together." On board the S. S. Proleterka, she has a violent, carnal schooling with the sailors: "I had no experience of the other part of the world, the male part." Mesmerized by the desire to be experienced, she crisply narrates her trysts as well as her near-total neglect of her father. A ferocious study of distance and diffidence, S. S. Proleterka bottles at one hundred and eighty proof the "insomniac resentment" and cyclical nature of familial pain. Jaeggy's distillation of childhood is brought into English with telegraphic urgency by Alastair McEwen, the acclaimed translator of Umberto Eco and Alessandro Baricco, and the emotions pressed out between Jaeggy's lines are enough to fill a tome of a thousand pages.

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User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

Death and alienation hover like menacing theme music over the elliptical scenes that compose this disturbing 2001 novel by Italian author Jaeggy (Sweet Days of Discipline, 1993, etc.).In a flat ... Read full review

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"Proleterka" è il nome di una nave. Attraccata a Venezia, aspetta di portare in Grecia un gruppo di rispettabili turisti di lingua tedesca. Gli ultimi a salire sono un signore che zoppica lievemente e sua figlia non ancora sedicenne, appena arrivata dal collegio. Tra padre e figlia c'è un'estraneità totale, e insieme un legame che risale a un tempo remoto oscuro, che sembra precedere le loro esistenze. In quel viaggio, la figlia vorrebbe conoscere qualcosa di più di quella persona inverosimilmente ignota dagli "occhi chiari e gelidi, innaturali". Ma soprattutto desidera scoprire quell'altra cosa ignota che è la vita stesa, sino allora favoleggiata dal recinto di un collegio.  

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About the author (2003)

The London Times Literary Supplement named Fleur Jaeggy's S.S. Proleterka as a Best Book of the Year; and her Sweet Days of Discipline won the Premio Bagutta as well as the Premio Speciale Rapallo.

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