Inhabit the Word: Celebrating 80 Years of PEN, a conference sponsored by Villa Aurora with a reception hosted by the Consul General of Switzerland Jean-François Lichtenstern, was held on June 28th-29th 2014 at the Goethe Institute Los Angeles. PEN Zentrum deutschspachiger Autoren was founded in 1934 by a group of exiled writers including Lion Feuchtwanger, in protest against the events unfolding in Germany.
Als Hitler unser Nachbar war–the German translation of Hitler Mon Voisin–has just been published and is enjoying widespread coverage in leading German-language media:
Condolences to the family of Dr. Peter-Paul Schneider, head of the DRA Babelsberg television archive and one of the team who devised the online journalism course at the Technical University of Berlin built around Lion Feuchtwanger.
In the Süddeutsche Zeitung last week re the newly elected SPD mayor of Munich Dieter Reiter, whose favourite book is Erfolg:
“Es ist schon etwas abgegriffen, auch ein paar kleine Eselsohren findet man: Reiters Lieblingsbuch ist der Schlüsselroman “Erfolg” von Lion Feuchtwanger, der als einer der ersten die Gefahren durch Hitler und die NSDAP erkannt hat. Dem Buch sieht man deutlich an, dass Reiter es oft in der Hand hat. Es begleitet ihn seit Jahrzehnten. Damit es nicht irgendwann auseinanderfällt, hat Reiter sich inzwischen eine Taschenbuchversion gekauft, um sein Original-Lieblingsbuch zu schonen.”
Interesting June 4th 1948 letter from Lion to Edgar in which Lion once again laments the quality of William Rose’s English translation of Waffen für Amerika (the topic which I investigated in a paper delivered at the International Feuchtwanger Society Conference 2013). Food for thought…
Jonathan Skolnik, Associate Professor of German at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Interim Director of the Institute for Holocaust, Genocide and Memory Studies, has published Jewish Pasts, German Fictions, History, Memory and Minority Culture in Germany 1824-1955. Inter alia the book examines Lion Feuchtwanger as historical novelist and highlights authors by whom he was inspired, and also discusses individual Lion Feuchtwanger works.
Emotive account of the tortuous fate of the Wolfs, including how Lion Feuchtwanger attempted to intervene with the Soviet authorities on their behalf, and his continued correspondence with Sonja right up until his death in 1958.
Images from the International Feuchtwanger Society Conference 2013 in Berlin:
Edgar speaking at the Rotes Rathaus, recalling with mixed feelings his 1937 visit to the city
Frank Stern, myself, and Jörg Thunecke: panel addressing the impact of various Lion Feuchtwanger works (in translation) in the US
Full conference program here.
This 30th August 2013 Süddeutsche Zeitung article accurately observes that Erfolg (1930) was the first major German novel to provide an exposé of antisemitism and anti-progressive politics and attitudes in Bavaria in the 1920s, along with a satirical portrait of Hitler and the National Socialists.
“‘Three Years in the History of a Province’ is the subtitle–bourgeois lives, corruption, narrow-mindedness, a biased legal system, and National Socialism form the backdrop; the protagonists are thinly veiled portraits of famous and lesser known figures such as Brecht, Karl Valentin, industrialists and politicians. Feuchtwanger had his sights trained on one such figure from a very early stage: Adolf Hitler, portrayed in the novel as Rupert Kutzner, a garage mechanic with the gift of the gab.” Süddeutsche Zeitung