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The Burning of the World


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This is the world premiere of this beautiful, haunting memoir of World War I, recently discovered among the artist Bela Zombory-Moldovan's private papers. Publishing in the 100th anniversary year of the War, Zombory-Moldovan's account of the almost-apocalyptic carnage of 1914 is executed with a painter's eye for color, detail, and heartbreaking symbolism in every image.

About the Author

Bela Zombory-Moldovan (1885-1967) was born in Munkacs, in what was then the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Wounded in action in 1914 as a junior officer on the eastern front, he served the rest of WWI in non-combatant duties. He was a successful painter during the interwar years, and was the principal of the Budapest School of Applied Arts from 1935 until his dismissal by the Communist regime in 1946. Peter Zombory-Moldovan has co-translated Arthur Schnitzler's Reigen and is a grandson of Bela Zombory-Moldovan. He lives in London.


The literary discovery of the year. -- Irish Times a hidden gem The Oldie A remarkable narrative, a real treasure, a book everyone should read. The Burning of the World is a work of superb reportage as well as being a non-fiction companion volume to Joseph Roth's classic The Radetzky March ... The Burning of the World is a marvellous discovery with a humility and a sense of wonder that places it at more than the equal of even Robert Graves' Good-bye to All That. -- Eileen Battersby Irish Times The strength of this book is not as an account of combat - though the few pages devoted to the subject are brilliant - but to the effect of war on one sensitive young man and on everything and everybody. Charles Moore, Daily Telegraph To a certain extent, World War I memoirs written from the ant's perspective resemble one another, all mud and horror. What makes this one stand out is the author's painterly eye for detail, his ability to evoke a vanished way of life, and his tone of voice-gentle and civilized but perfectly capable of the occasional sardonic flash. Henrik Bering, The Wall Street Journal "written with a painter's eye for colour ... [it] matters not only for its literary qualities but also for its evocation of the Austro-Russian theatre (for which we have very few accounts) during the more mobile opening phase of campaigning, when casualty rates were among the highest in the war ... [a] story not only of madness and massacre but also of regeneration." -- David Stevenson Financial Times The writing detailing the author's experiences in battle has an energy and sense of urgency, and the whole book is filled with the understanding that life would never be the same again...recommended for anyone interested in World War I, war memoirs, and the history of eastern Europe. Library Journal ...haunting, heartbreaking, and beautifully written...[Zombory-Moldovan's] relatively short exposure to combat is conveyed with an unforgettable intensity. But this is not another chronicle of trench warfare...This is a deeply moving account of a young man's short but terrible plunge into an inferno. Booklist, starred review To be in a war, within it, to know what that means, to understand the appalling and dreadful significance of all that is appaling and dreadful-such was the fate of this gentle Hungarian painter, who, with several million companions, became entangled in the First World War and was never able to free himself from its memories. He tried to do so, nonetheless; he tried to free himself from these memories--this volume is the proof of that. This is perilous reading: the reader is invited, along with the writer, the one who remembers, to take part in what happened. But this is what we must do: from sympathy, from compassion, so that the one who truly lived through all of this will not be so utterly, unbearably alone -- Laszlo Krasznahorkai One reads with never-ending curiosity and ever deeper emotions the recollections of a compassionate artist of the first year of World War I on the nearly forgotten Eastern front. Unlike in the West, here there were few trenches; instead, there was constant movement within which vast armies of ill-equipped and ill-trained Russians, Cossacks, Caucasians, Asians, Austro-Germans, Reich Germans, Hungarians, Romanians, Poles, Czechs, Slovaks, Croats, Serbs, Slovenes, and innumerable other nationalities massacred each other for causes that many, if not most participants were unable to understand. -- Istvan Deak, Columbia University

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