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This review is taken from PN Review 18, Volume 7 Number 4, March - April 1981.

'A JEWISH FANTASY' George Steiner, 'The Portage to San Cristobal of A. H.', (in Granta, New Series, No. 2) £1.50

The second issue of Granta magazine, in its new and ambitious series, gives pride of place to the prolific George Steiner in his relatively unknown role as fictioneer. 'The Portage to San Cristobal of A. H.' is a novella. But, for all its comparative brevity, it is highly charged with Steiner's ideas on the Holocaust and the debasement of language in the service of twentieth-century tyranny, and gives dramatic expression to what Tony Tanner in an introductory note calls 'an ultimate Jewish fantasy'-the capture of fugitive Adolf Hitler by a Jewish expedition in the wilds of South America. Granta, presumably for reasons of space, has provided only a somewhat condensed version of the work, collaborating with the author 'to make sure that the reader's understanding of the text is not hampered at any point' by the cuts. Certainly the plot coheres-Hitler's capture, the exhausting swampy trek back towards civilization, the realization by outside, non-Israeli forces of the stupendous event in the making, the debate about Hitler's fate among the captors, the encroachment of the external elements (crass international media-men mostly) on the valorous little band of Hitler hunters, the callous disregard by the fascinated world at large of the peculiarly Jewish significance of it all, and, finally, by implication, the attempted takeover of the whole enterprise by slick international politicians and profit-obsessed news combines.

George Steiner now holds forth from, among other places, Geneva (thereby refuting the claim by an old reactionary mentor of Roy Campbell that ...


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