Outside Verdun

By Arnold Zweig

Published by Freight Books (2014)

'The war, an operation instigated by men, still felt to him like a storm decreed by fate, an unleashing of powerful elements, unaccountable and beyond criticism.' A stunning new translation, this is the first UK publication of a forgotten masterpiece of First World War German literature in the anniversary year of the commencement of hostilities. Arnold Zweig's Outside Verdun was first published in 1933 and is entirely based on his own, first-hand experiences of the German army during World War 1. Following the unlawful killing of his younger brother by his own superiors, Lieutenant Kroysing swears revenge, using his influence to arrange for his brother's unit, normally safely behind the lines, to be reassigned to the fortress at Douaumont, in the very heart of the battle for France. Bertin, a lowly but educated Jewish private in the army service corps through whose eyes the story unfolds, is the innocent man caught in the cross-fire. Outside Verdun not only explores the heart-breaking tragedy of one individual trapped in a nightmare of industrialised warfare but also reveals the iniquities of German society in microcosm, with all its injustice, brutality, anti-Semitism and incompetence. Fiona Rintoul's brilliant translation captures all the subtleties, cadences and detachment of Zweig's masterful prose.

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