Discovering Vienna and Its Lost Jewish Facet

bober vienne

Robert Bober: Vienne avant la nuit. ISBN 978-2-8180-4326-4 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ What a wonderful book! I can say this without any caveat at all. Everything is wonderful. First, the idea: A French writer investigates the origin of his Jewish family and ends up with an intelligent, colourful sketch of Jewish life in Vienna before the night, that is before the extinction of Jewish life in Vienna under the Nazis. Second, the execution of the idea: a highly readable book, with interesting, witty texts written by the author and extensive quotes of eminent Jewish writers like Joseph Roth, Arthur Schnitzler, Thomas Bernhard and Stefan Zweig. Lovely illustrations, admirable drawings, historic and current pictures, scans of original documents complete this work.

The trip to the past reveals the value of Jewish life for Vienna. It shows what is missing today: A part of Vienna’s identity. Wilfully destroyed. What a lost! I am grateful to Bober to have me shown I facet of the city I love so much that I wouldn’t have discovered so easily without him. The next time I will be in Vienna, my look upon the city will not be the same it used to be. I will look for signs. I now know where to look fo them. This said, to all my Jewish readers: Happy New Year or L’shanah tovah!

Bober narrates his adventure in a very intimate style and so some intimate music from a Vienna composer imposed itself as my music suggestion accompanying this review. A piano is de rigueur, a violin too – Johannes Brahms’ Trio in B minor:

 Overwhelmed by a sparkling trio of divine length