The Forest of the Hanged by Liviu Rebreanu, Illustrated by Phoebe Cho
This classic Romanian novel lends valuable psychological insight into the tragic situation confronting minorities in the Austro-Hungarian Empire during World War I. It is the story of Apostol Bologa, a middle-class Romanian officer serving in the Austro-Hungarian army who undergoes a transformation as his sense of national consciousness awakens, leading him to make a critical choice that many faced during this era.
The novel is based on the life of the author’s brother, Emil Rebreanu, a Romanian officer in the Austro-Hungarian army, to whom he dedicated The Forest of the Hanged. The novel’s protagonist, Bologa undergoes an evolution whereby begins to see beyond class distinction and the veneer of the civilized world. As the hero states, “The soul is the same in the peasant girl as in the countess, at all events in its bare essentials. Only the shape has been changed by civilization.” The inner struggles confronted by Bologa as he confronts the savagery and injustice of war are emotionally portrayed by the author.
The Forest of the Hanged is rightfully considered one of the greatest novels in Romanian literature. Liviu Rebeanu (1885-1944) was one of Romania’s most distinguished literary figures. His novel Ion is considered the first modern Romanian novel. This edition of Rebreanu’s famous novel, illustrated by talented young artist Phoebe Cho, includes an introduction by A.K. Brackob.
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