Mein ist der Rache
October 28, 2010 1:11 PM   Subscribe

German Literature: Help me identify a story I remember from my high school German class. It was set in post-WWII Italy, and I think it included an Italian woman and a German soldier/officer/Nazi. She administers poison to him in such a way that there’s a 50% chance of either him or her getting the poison.

The phrase “Mein ist der Rache” features in the story (with the implication being that she’s leaving the ultimate decision up to God.) Bonus points: I’ve noticed there are obvious parallels to the Sherlock Holmes story “A Study in Scarlet”, and am wondering if they draw on a common source (or if the one is an inspiration for the other.)
posted by endless_forms to Writing & Language (2 answers total)
Friedrich Torberg's novella "Mein ist die Rache"? (May be a lead for someone else; I couldn't find much.)
posted by MonkeyToes at 1:46 PM on October 28, 2010

More, but makes it seem unlikely:

""Mein ist die Rache" tells the story of Joseph Aschkenasy, who waits on a New Jersey pier for one of his fellow inmates from the fictional concentration-camp Heidenburg to appear. The novella is framed by the encounter of a first-person narrator-who has come to meet some friends who have emigrated successfully-with Aschkenasy, who then recounts his experiences within the camp to this sympathetic listener. Aschkenasy has ended the sadistic rule of the camp's Kommandant, Wagenseil-who had either tortured to death or forced into suicide four of the other Jewish inmates-by murdering him with his, Wagenseil's, own revolver, before then fleeing through Holland, ultimately to the United States. During his account to his listener, it is by no means clear that the narrator and Aschkenasy are one and the same, because he recounts many deeply philosophical dialogues-about Jewish theology, free will, and the necessity of resistance-that he himself conducted with another inmate named Aschkenasy, which then turn to relevance of the biblical stricture that revenge is the province of God alone. Only at the very end of the novella is it revealed that first, the chronicler is actually Aschkenasy himself, and second, that the philosophical discussions depicted in the text were actually dialogues conducted within his own mind. Far from being merely a narrative device, this is actually an artful metaphorical rendition of the rupture felt by many in exile, projecting their own alternative fate onto the world left behind. By casting the escapee/émigré's personality as multiple, Torberg emphasizes the fate of the exile as the "Wanderer zwischen Welten," destined to be alien in any surrounding."
posted by MonkeyToes at 1:51 PM on October 28, 2010

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