German Classics in Translation
With this collection of German-language masterworks, immerse yourself in the grimy, glittering, melancholy, and madcap worlds of bygone Germany and Austria. Begin in the capital, with Alfred Döblin’s uproarious modernist masterpiece, Berlin Alexanderplatz. Follow Döblin’s criminal hero into back alleys and listen closely to the dark rhythms that pound beneath the modern city. Rainer Werner Fassbinder found himself “devouring, gobbling, gulping down” this story of fate and violence. Gabriele Tergit’s Kasebier Takes Berlin brings us out of the underworld and into the blinding flashbulbs of the Berlin press. Imagining a small-time crooner catapulted to stardom, this searing satire of the media machine is an incisive portrait of a society’s collapse into fascism. Robert Walser’s Berlin Stories offers us a molecular investigation into the everyday activity of the capital. Savor a stroll with Walser through the Tiergarten, the restaurants, the galleries, and the small joys and sorrows of the people who inhabit them.
In Jakob Wassermann’s My Marriage, follow the young writer Alexander Herzog to Vienna, where he is passionately pursued by Ganna. Herzog thinks he can mold her into what he wants. Their marriage—based on the author’s own—is a slow self-destruction that Rachel Cusk called “profoundly affecting.” In Agathe, sample an entrancing and sensuous part of The Man Without Qualities, Robert Musil’s beloved panorama of Vienna in its last years as a metropole. This mystifying story of two siblings’ electrifying relationship is a reevaluation of sexuality, love, and the boundaries of self. Finally, Stefan Zweig’s Beware of Pity takes us to the edge of the Austro-Hungarian empire. This story—from a master anatomist of the conflicted, deceitful, and destructive heart—follows Hofmiller and the tragic misinterpretation of his pity as love.