The Order of the Day
by Éric Vuillard
“[A] fresh, multifaceted reexamination of a seemingly well-known moment of twentieth-century history….In Vuillard’s tightly constructed narrative, the worst tragedies of the century are preceded or accompanied by the ludicrous activities of mediocre individuals. The apparently trivial anecdotes in fact shed light on the enormous destruction of people and civilization. Vuillard has become adept at this type of historical investigation, which generally alternates between a somberly gripping narration and a more sardonic retelling of relatively minor events.” —WORLD LITERATURE TODAY
“A powerful story you read in one go, with astonishment and dread.” —La Presse
About The Order of the Day
Exhuming a well-known history with fresh eyes, warning of the timeless threat to freedom exacted by self-interest, willful ignorance, and the consolidation of power in the hands of the few, The Order of the Day opens on February 20, 1933 to a secret meeting held between twenty-four German captains of industry and senior Nazi dignitaries. They unwillingly fund the accession to power of the National Socialist Party and its fearsome Chancellor, setting a tone of consent that will lead to the worst possible repercussions.
The work spans to March 12, 1938, the historic date on which German troops march into Austria to annex the nation to the Third Reich. The newsreels capture for eternity a motorized army, a terrible, inexorable power; but behind Goebbels’s splendid propaganda, an ersatz Blitzkrieg unfolds, the Panzers breaking down en masse on the roads of Austria. The true story of the Anschluss thus reveals a starkly different picture: it is no longer strength of character or the determination of a people that wins the day, but rather a combination of intimidation and bluff that The Order of the Day recounts and exposes, brilliantly dismantling the myth of an effortless victory.
About Éric Vuillard
Éric Vuillard is a writer and filmmaker born in Lyon in 1968 who has written nine award-winning titles, including Conquistadors (winner of the 2010 Prix Ignatius J. Reilly), and La bataille d’Occident and Congo (both of which received the 2012 Prix Franz-Hessel and the 2013 Prix Valery-Larbaud). He won the 2017 Prix Goncourt, France’s most prestigious literary prize, for L’Ordre du Jour. His most recent book, Sorrow of the Earth, was his first published in English; The Order of the Day is his second. He lives in Rennes, France. Image credit: Melania Avanzato
About Mark Polizzotti
Mark Polizzotti has translated more than fifty books from French, including works by Gustave Flaubert, Patrick Modiano, Marguerite Duras, André Breton, and Raymond Roussel. Chevalier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres and the recipient of a 2016 American Academy of Arts & Letters Award for Literature, he is the author of eleven books. He directs the publications program at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.