Apartment in Athens
Publication Date: April 30, 2004
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Like Wescott's extraordinary novella The Pilgrim Hawk (which Susan Sontag described in The New Yorker as belonging "among the treasures of 20th-century American literature"), Apartment in Athens concerns an unusual triangular relationship. In this story about a Greek couple in Nazi-occupied Athens who must share their living quarters with a German officer, Wescott stages an intense and unsettling drama of accommodation and rejection, resistance and compulsion—an account of political oppression and spiritual struggle that is also a parable about the costs of closeted identity.
Glenway Wescott (1901-1987) was the author of the novels The Grandmothers and Apartment in Athens, in addition to several collections of stories and essays. His life—as revealed in his published journals and a joint biography of him and his lover, Monroe Wheeler—has been the subject of increasing interest in recent years.
David Leavitt ’s books include The Man Who Knew Too Much: Alan Turing and the Invention of the Computer and the novel The Indian Clerk, a finalist for both the PEN/Faulkner Prize and the IMPAC /Dublin Literary Award. He co-directs the MFA program in Creative Writing at the University of Florida.
A fine study in humiliation and nobility, and their culmination in tragedy and desperate resolve…its moderateness, lack of exaggeration, and serenity are admirable as the Greek ideal they reflect and honor. Everywhere is the dignity of a style in which there is nothing wasteful and nothing wanting.
— Eudora Welty
I have not read any other book—either of fiction or direct documentation—which has given me the feeling of starving and stifling, of falling back on interior positions, constructing interior defenses, reorganizing and redirecting, behind a mask of submission, the whole structure and aim of one’s life, as Apartment in Athens does.
— Edmund Wilson