The 9th Conference of the International Feuchtwanger Society (Lion Feuchtwanger und München: Der junge Feuchtwanger—Dramatiker, Theaterkritiker, früher Romanautor) was held in Munich from 17th-20th October 2019. The conference was covered by the Süddeutsche Zeitung on 21st October 2019 and in a follow-up article.
President of the Israelitische Kultusgemeinde Munich and Upper Bavaria Charlotte Knobloch, Munich City Councillor Klaus Peter Rupp, International Feuchtwanger Society members, and several members of the Feuchtwanger family including Edgar Feuchtwanger and myself attended the conference.
In my conference paper, which provides a concise introduction to Lion Feuchtwanger’s Bavaria novel Erfolg, I explain how the novel’s publication affected immediate family members at the time, and noted that a comprehensive German Jewish studies interpretation would be a welcome addition to the existing secondary literature.
Entitled ‘Das Buch Bayern’: The Portrayal of Antisemitism and the ‘Wahrhaft Deutschen’ in Erfolg (and accompanying image set), my paper points out that between 1920 and 1933 Lion Feuchtwanger published four works—one satirical short story and three novels—in which he addressed the subject of antisemitism in Germany. In the third of these works, Erfolg (1930), he exposed antisemitism in Bavarian politics and society, satirized the emerging Nazi Party, and drew attention to the increasing politicization of Bavaria’s judicial and penal system, as well as providing a compelling fictionalized account of the 1923 Munich Putsch.
Although Erfolg helped garner Lion Feuchtwanger a Nobel Prize for Literature nomination in 1930, it put him as well as other family members in the crosshairs of the Nazi press. After the war the novel endured a mixed reception, but nowadays it is highly regarded, especially in Bavaria.
Erfolg was the subject of two other papers at the conference. In his paper ‘”Still Burning for Revenge and Battle”: Erfolg and the Politics of Cultural Demobilization in Munich’, American historian Adam Seipp (Texas A&M) placed the novel in the context of post-WW1 social unrest in Munich. In a paper entitled ‘Bayern auf der Couch: Lion Feuchtwangers Erfolg psychoanalytisch gelesen’, Franziska Wolf (Birmingham, UK) drew attention to Freudian elements in characters in the novel.
— Of the abundant secondary literature on Erfolg, a notable recent article in English is by International Feuchtwanger Society President and bestselling author Tanja Kinkel: ‘What about Lion Feuchtwanger? A Reader’s Tale’, in: Against the Eternal Yesterday, Essays Commemorating the Legacy of Lion Feuchtwanger, (Los Angeles: USC Libraries/Figueroa Press, 2009), 92-97.
— IFS 2019 conference program (proceedings: forthcoming, Peter Lang, 2021).