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The Weimar Republic

Discussion in 'The Reading Room' started by rocketeer, Dec 2, 2017.

  1. rocketeer

    rocketeer Call Me a Cab

    Can anyone recommend any books about life in the Weimar Republic. Not particularly interested in the rise of the Nazi's but general life and culture.
    I have Saints and Sinners about films etc from the era but I am looking more for something about everyday life and other entertainment from this era.
    English language please, I don't read much German.
    Cheers, J.
     
  2. The "Golden" Twenties, Art and Literature in the Weimar Republic, by Bärbel Schrader and Jürgen Schebera (in English), Yale University Press, 1990.

    Art and Politics in the Weimar Period, the New Sobriety by John Willett. I used to have this and got rid of it during one of my culls, but I seem to remember it covered a lot of things about the socio-political aspects of the period. Now I'm wishing I had kept it.

    If you're amenable to a fictionalized, comic-book approach, you could try the series Berlin by Jason Lutes, about the lives of various art students, journalists, Jewish merchants, beggars, cops, socialists and others as they intersect in the capital city during the period.
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2017
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  3. dubpynchon

    dubpynchon One of the Regulars

    Do you know of any books specifically about Berlin in the Weimar Republic? Someone was reviewing one on a tv programme a few years ago that sounded very interesting, unfortunately I didn’t make a note of its name. I remember them talking about the restaurant where the main attraction was a starving man in a cage, it was a high class restaurant and he was a bit of a celebrity. There was a nightclub where lesbians - again, this is from the review of the book not my imagination - would whip schoolboys, and a street where the prostitues were arranged by degrees of pregnancy. The degeneracy and desperate poverty of the place.
     
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2017
  4. tropicalbob

    tropicalbob My Mail is Forwarded Here

    The diaries of Count Harry Kessler. They come in two volumes: Journey to the Abyss (1880-1918) and Berlin in Lights (1918-1937). I don't know how to praise these diaries highly enough: they are a ring-side seat to European history and culture from one of the most intelligent, humane, and talented writers of his time. He also knew most of the great artists and personalities of the period, including such diverse characters as Albert Einstein, Rudolph Nijinski, Josephine Baker, and many, many others. A blurb from the great Edmund White: "Kessler was a sophisticated aristocrat who knew everyone and understood everything. He rode with Nijinski in a Paris cab the night that The Rite of Spring changed artistic history. He could size up a German princess with level-eyed candor. He was passionate about the arts and politics- and is one of the best observers of his epoch." He made his home in Weimar, and it became a showplace of Bauhaus and Art Deco design. I really can't think of a better chronicle of the whole period, and the writing is so good that you feel a part of the scene.
     
  5. dubpynchon

    dubpynchon One of the Regulars

    Cheers @tropicalbob, I’ll check them out.
     
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  6. tropicalbob

    tropicalbob My Mail is Forwarded Here

    There's Berlin Alexanderplatz by Alfred Doblin, which I'm re-reading right now, and at the same time watching the 15-part film version by Fassbinder on Youtube. Also, there's Christopher Isherwood's Berlin Stories, about his time there in the early Thirties (it was the basis of "Cabaret", the play and the film. Last (that I can think of off-hand) is Mephisto by Klaus Mann, son of Thomas Mann. It's the story of an actor who sells his soul to the Nazis and it mostly takes place in the very world you're describing above. I think it was the only successful book he wrote, but it's a very good one indeed.
     
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2017
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  7. dubpynchon

    dubpynchon One of the Regulars

    There's a new tv series, Babylon Berlin which is meant to be good, set in this time period. I think it's a detective story, it looks interesting. If you get a chance read 'The End of Days' by Jenny Erpenbeck, an acclaimed German novelist (not the film with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Gabriel Byrne), it's starts in Austria in 1900 and travels to Berlin and Moscow over the next few decades, it's not easy going and it's extremely grim but it's excellent. Her novel 'Visitation' is great as well, it tells the story of a house in Eastern Germany through the horrors of the war years. I've seen Erpenbeck interviewed and she's actually quite giggly funnily enough, apparently Beckett was warm and personable in real life as well.

    More importantly than this, what jacket are you wearing today lol.
     
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2017

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