Tag Archives: Germany

A Fevered Vision in the South Seas: ‘Imperium’ by Christian Kracht

In the early twentieth century, a young German named August Engelhardt sailed to Kabakon, a small island in the German territories of the South Pacific. His goal was to establish an outpost from where he could promulgate his ideas, chief among them the belief that the proper way to live, spiritually and practically, was to be naked, to worship the sun, and to eat nothing but coconuts. From Kabakon he managed to disseminate frugivorist and utopian literature to Europe, and to entice to the island numerous followers, some of whose travel he funded. By the end of his life, though, …Continue reading

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The Misapprehension of Satire: On ‘The Zone of Interest’ by Martin Amis

“O Germany— Hearing the speeches that ring from your house, one laughs. But whoever sees you, reaches for his rifle.” —Bertolt Brecht (from Hannah Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem) I. Introduction January marked the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, the infamous labor and extermination camp in Poland where more than one million Jews were murdered by the Nazis, right under the nose of Polish citizens and the wider international community. The timing of this gruesome anniversary is poignant, as European anti-Semitism is perhaps more virulent and threatening now than at any point since the war. Anti-Semitism has unfortunately proven …Continue reading

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Dignity at the Mercy of a Ruined Economy: Hans Keilson’s ‘Life Goes On’

Originally published in 1933, Hans Keilson’s recently translated first novel, Life Goes On (Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 255 pages; translated by Damion Searls), is a gripping story of a family living in post-World War I Germany. Keilson’s autobiographical novel, which came out when he was only twenty-three, is a striking exploration of struggle, shame, and hope, and what it means to live. Life Goes On follows the lives of the Seldersens as they face the economic turbulence sweeping Germany. Herr Seldersen, a veteran of the Great War, runs a small shop with his wife. Even as they try to make …Continue reading

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