Mars by Fritz Zorn

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An amazing book - as complete, as moving, as revealing as one of Freud's case histories - "Mars" has already become an intellectual event in Europe, not only for its devastating power, but also for its searing and controversial vision of what cancer can be in human life: a symptom of psychic disorder. Fritz "Zorn" was a young Swiss German who was born in Zurich and died there at the age of thirty-two, in 1976. This astonishing document, written in his last months, is his unsparing account of himself and the world that made him. It is an impassioned indictment of everything that his rigid middle-class society had codified into a "good upbringing," a horrendously airtight world of puritanism and privilege that destroyed his childhood and made of him an adult so cut off from all real feeling and emotion that existence was a zero. It is a book that shocks and disturbs us as it reveals now for the first time, already in his thirties, Zorn was brought to recognize the emotionless stupor that he had mistake for living, as he broke into the realms of feeling - how it was only the growth of the cancer in his body that began to move him toward life, how it was only the imminence of his own death that gave him, at last, the surging energy to propel himself out of his paralyzing, neurotic depression and come ALIVE. Cancer fuels his race toward experiencing, understanding, articulating. With a ferocious clarity he reclaims his lost past: "I will be dead, and I will have known why," he says. There is no pandering to the reader, no forced intimacy, no sentimentality or longing in his voice. He is furiously dignified, refusing to blur the sharp outlines of the insights he reaches. What he has left us is a work of art, a shaping of pain and terror and rage into a blaze of emotional revelation.

About Fritz Zorn

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Published January 1, 1982 by Knopf. 241 pages
Genres: . Non-fiction