Yanovsky, Vassily S(emenovich) 1906–
Yanovsky is a Russian novelist, physician, and mathematician. In his fiction he combines elements of fantasy, realism, and metaphysics. (See also CLC, Vol. 2, and Contemporary Authors, Vols. 97-100.)
[No Man's Time defies] neat pigeon-holing.
The hero, Cornelius Yamb, [moves] between two worlds, or to be more precise he travels to Canada to find Bruno, the heir to a vast fortune, and then brings him back to Chicago. The Canadian episode is partly fantasy … and partly escapist … and partly realist, too. Although entertaining, this part of the book sags somewhat during the chapters given over entirely to incomprehensible sermons, and lengthy philosophical ramblings from Bruno….
The latter part of the book is far more satisfactory. Cornelius's decline … and his aimless, unhappy wanderings through the waste-land city make absorbing reading. There is a particularly powerful description of the death of his wife and children in an apartment fire—no question of fantasy here, it is as real as a kick in the leg. The ending is puzzling, with the hero's return to the Village, a place that is finally seen as a dream world, some kind of earthly Valhalla. At this point, the Village gets a little too good to be true, and the book ultimately fails to involve the reader. This is a pity because otherwise No Man's Time holds together not as an uneasy combination of fantasy-escapism and fantasy-realism but as a powerful and occasionally very moving account of one man's decline.
"Village Voice," in The Times Literary Supplement (© Times Newspapers Ltd. (London) 1967; reproduced from The Times Literary Supplement by permission), No. 3404, May 25, 1967, p. 471.
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