The Man Who Knew Everybody

Jonathan Steinberg

  • Journey to the Abyss: The Diaries of Count Harry Kessler, 1880-1918 edited and translated by Laird Easton
    Knopf, 924 pp, £30.00, December 2011, ISBN 978 0 307 26582 1

I knew who Harry Kessler was of course, ‘the red count’, the Junker aristocrat who supported the Weimar Republic, and wrote a diary which I used in my seminars. Well, it turns out he wasn’t a Junker; indeed, it’s hard to say what he actually was. Imagine somebody who was at once an English public school boy, a French-born art critic and a Prussian guards officer. Then imagine that this person kept diaries for 57 years and that these diaries survived two world wars and the destruction of Germany.

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