'Only the villages are asleep, the eternal reservoir of all kinds of soldiery, the inexhaustible source of physical strength'
At the beginning of the twentieth century the villagers of the Carpathian mountains lead a simple life, much as they have always done. The modern world has yet to reach the inhabitants of this isolated and remote region of the Habsburg Empire. Among them is Piotr, a bandy-legged peasant, who wants nothing more from life than an official railway cap, a cottage with a mouse-trap and cheese, and a bride with a dowry.
But then the First World War comes to the mountains, and Piotr is drafted into the army. All the weight of imperial authority is used to mould him into an unthinking fighting machine, so that the bewildered peasant can be forced to fight a war he does not understand, for interests other than his own.
The Salt of the Earth is a classic war novel, a powerful pacifist tale about the consequences of war on ordinary men.
Publisher: Pushkin Press
Number of pages: 352
Dimensions: 216 x 135 mm
'One of the great Central European war stories, on a par with the works of Jaroslav Hasek.' - Los Angeles Review of Books
'Wittlin's... irony and quiet fury are those of the idealistic ascetic steeped in the Old Testament and the Odyssey. His compassion for the ignorant and lowly of the earth, breathed into his work, imparts to it a glowing poetic quality and a sublimity of soul... It is a volume to be read again and again. It has the satisfying quality of good music.' - Virginia Quarterly Review
'One of the small number of contemporary works which extend into the sphere of the mythical and epical' - Thomas Mann