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Is this right?

J.P. Stern, 19 April 1990

... How poignant newspaper headlines can be! Like this one: ‘Rabbi Julia Neuberger shares a feeling of permanent exile with the refugee poet’ (Observer, 11 March). And yet I find this a strange bit of information, because last time I saw the Rabbi on the box, laying down the law on some matter of profound moral concern – well, frankly, it wasn’t a permanent feeling of exile she conveyed to me, but a permanent feeling of having a jolly good time, and of being so much at home in the TV studio, you could hardly tell where the Rabbi ended and the studio began ...

Magic Thrift

J.P. Stern, 16 September 1982

Thomas Mann: The Making of an Artist 1875-1911 
by Richard Winston.
Constable, 325 pp., £12.50, April 1982, 0 09 460060 0
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... Richard and Clare Winston are well-known as the authors of elegant and accurate translations of some of Thomas Mann’s essays and correspondence, including The Letters of Thomas Mann, 1889-1955. While annotating that selection, Richard Winston began assembling material for what he intended to be an extensive biography of the writer. It was to be the culmination of a lifetime’s respectful devotion, an act of homage to the work of the man who, more than any other, had represented the German cultural heritage in the age of Hitler ...

Inside Hitler

J.P. Stern, 16 February 1984

Adolf Hitler: The Medical Diaries. The Private Diaries of Dr Theo Morell 
edited by David Irving.
Sidgwick, 309 pp., £10.95, May 1983, 0 283 98981 5
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... Adolf Hitler: The Medical Diaries consists of a translation of the medical records kept by Hitler’s physician, Dr Theodor Morell, and of Mr Irving’s extensive commentaries on those records. Morell, a fashionable Berlin GP specialising in venereal diseases, became the Führer’s personal doctor at Christmas 1936. The elevation, which took place during a visit to Hitler’s retreat on the Obersalzberg, was greeted by Morell’s wife with the oracular words: ‘What do we need with that!’ – a rendering, presumably, of ‘Wozu brauchen wir das?’ The diaries begin in July 1941, a few weeks after the start of the Russian campaign ...

Deutschtum

J.P. Stern, 3 April 1986

Reflections of a Non-Political Man 
by Thomas Mann, translated by Walter Morris.
Lorrimar, 435 pp., £19.50, February 1986, 9780804425858
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... the devil’ he, the author of Buddenbrooks – German literature’s finest contribution to the Western tradition of the realist novel – is doing among all those far from ‘unpolitical’ literati whom ‘the sacred requirements of Germany’s hour of need’ had turned into anti-Western nationalists. The public or ...

Diary

J.P. Stern: This great wall has fallen down, 7 December 1989

... at One on Friday, 10 November, ‘first Poland, then Hungary, then – er, Czechoslovakia, now Eastern Germany ... ’. Heigh-ho, this was Neville Chamberlain’s ‘Czechoslovakia’ all over again, the far-away country of which we know little. The second half of the sentence was omitted from the television interview shown later that day. The slip of the ...

Bad Faith

J.P. Stern, 21 July 1983

Franz Kafka’s Loneliness 
by Marthe Robert, translated by Ralph Manheim.
Faber, 251 pp., £12.50, October 1982, 9780571119455
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Kafka’s Narrators 
by Roy Pascal.
Cambridge, 251 pp., £22.50, March 1982, 0 521 24365 3
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The Trial 
by Franz Kafka, translated by Willa Muir and Edwin Muir.
Penguin, 255 pp., £1.75, October 1983, 0 14 000907 8
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Letters to Milena 
by Franz Kafka and Willy Haas, translated by Tania Stern and James Stern.
Penguin, 188 pp., £2.50, June 1983, 0 14 006380 3
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The Penguin Complete Novels of Franz Kafka: ‘The Trial’, ‘The Castle’, ‘America’ 
translated by Willa Muir, illustrated by Edwin Muir.
Penguin, 638 pp., £4.95, June 1983, 0 14 009009 6
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The Penguin Complete Short Stories of Franz Kafka 
edited by Nahum Glatzer.
Penguin, 486 pp., £3.95, June 1983, 0 14 009008 8
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... players who visited Prague in 1911 cannot be separated from his distaste for the mores of ‘Western’ Jews, itself a part of that deeply self-destructive mode from which he fashioned some of his most memorable images and scenes. The manner in which the central characters of his stories – Gregor Samsa in ‘The Metamorphosis’, Josef K. in The Trial ...

One blushes to admit it

D.J. Enright, 11 June 1992

The Heart of Europe: Essays on Literature and Ideology 
by J.P. Stern.
Blackwell, 415 pp., £45, April 1992, 0 631 15849 9
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... Blochs, Kellers and Hellers.) In the company of a few other British Germanists and translators, J.P. Stern, who died in November of last year, did much to make these writers more accessible to us, thanks to his persuasion that literature, no matter how exalted, is not the preserve of scholars, and that what has wide implications should be known ...

Impatience

J.P. Stern, 30 August 1990

Unmodern Observations 
by Friedrich Nietzsche, translated by Herbert Golder, Gary Brown and William Arrowsmith.
Yale, 402 pp., £30, February 1990, 0 300 04311 2
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The Importance of Nietzsche 
by Erich Heller.
Chicago, 200 pp., £23.95, February 1989, 0 226 32637 3
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... The four essays the young Nietzsche wrote between August 1873 and July 1876 (as part of a larger project that was never completed) are linked by his concern over the state of German culture after the victorious conclusion of the Franco-Prussian War and the proclamation of the Reich at Versailles in January 1871. These Unzeitgemässe Betrachtungen, written while Nietzsche was Professor of Classical Philology at Basle, are here translated as Unmodern Observations by different hands, under the editorship of Professor William Arrowsmith of Boston University ...

Ardour

J.P. Stern, 3 November 1983

The Sacred Threshold: A Life of Rainer Maria Rilke 
by J.F. Hendry.
Carcanet, 184 pp., £9.95, July 1983, 0 85635 369 8
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Rilke: sein Leben, seine Welt, sein Werk 
by Wolfgang Leppmann.
Scherz Verlag, 483 pp., £11, May 1981, 3 502 18407 0
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Rainer Maria Rilke: Leben und Werk im Bild 
edited by Ingeborg Schnack.
Insel Verlag, 270 pp., £2.55, May 1977, 3 458 01735 6
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... one side of the inhabitants of the Almanach de Gotha, they included Tolstoy, Maxim Gorky and the Pasternak family, Ellen Key and Klara Liebknecht, Paula Modersohn-Becker, the young Balthus and his mother, Baladine Klossowska (with whom, though she came from Breslau, he corresponded in French), Lord Kitchener and Walther Rathenau, Alexander Zaharov and Marianne ...

Sweet Sin

J.P. Stern, 5 August 1982

Marbot 
by Wolfgang Hildesheimer.
Suhrkamp, 326 pp., May 1981, 3 518 03205 4
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... Origin of the Milky Way (now in the National Gallery). It is the scene depicted there – Jupiter putting his and Alcmene’s illegitimate son, Hercules, to Juno’s breast, whose two jets spray one on the meadow below, the other into the night sky above, becoming the Milky Way – which forms Andrew’s earliest memory, and is the occasion of one of ...

The Matljary Diary

J.P. Stern, 7 August 1980

... a brush-off. 13.xi. Most of our supplies are stored in a fairly roomy cave in the rocks at the eastern end of the camp, and the CO has given strict orders that nobody is allowed there except on duty. As F.K.’s hoarseness, or whatever it is, has been getting worse, I asked the Adjutant whether we couldn’t rig up a bed for him in there, quite close to the ...

Communism’s Man of Letters

J.P. Stern, 26 September 1991

Georg Lukács: Life, Thought and Politics 
by Arpad Kadarkay.
Blackwell, 538 pp., £45, June 1991, 1 55786 114 5
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... doesn’t seem to have taken his baptism very seriously. Well-read in contemporary Hungarian and Western literature and immensely ambitious to contribute to literary and cultural history in the footsteps of Wilhelm Dilthey, the young man was active in a circle around Endre Ady, the greatest Hungarian poet of the age. Jószef von Lukács’s great wealth ...

Canetti’s Later Work

J.P. Stern, 3 July 1986

The Conscience of Words 
by Elias Canetti, translated by Joachim Neugroschel.
Deutsch, 166 pp., £8.95, April 1986, 9780233979007
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The Human Province 
by Elias Canetti, translated by Joachim Neugroschel.
Deutsch, 281 pp., £9.85, October 1985, 0 233 97837 2
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... from the papers and journals of anthropologists and explorers, on the one hand, and our modern Western experience, on the other? Are these episodes to serve as parallels to and illustrations of our conduct, or as accounts of its origins, or again as rudimentary prefigurations of it? Why is power seen always in its relationship to the crowd? Why is all power ...

Heil Heidegger

J.P. Stern, 20 April 1989

Martin Heidegger: Unterwegs zu seiner Biographie 
by Hugo Ott.
Campus Verlag, 355 pp., DM 48, December 1988, 3 593 34035 6
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... Of the numerous biographical publications on the most problematic of 20th-century philosophers, Hugo Ott’s Martin Heidegger: Toward his Biography stands out as the most detailed and scrupulously accurate. But caveat lector: there is a great deal here that we would not think of as conduct becoming a philosopher or the academic profession in general ...

All about Freud

J.P. Stern, 4 August 1988

Freud: A Life for Our Time: A Life in Our Time 
by Peter Gay.
Dent, 810 pp., £16.95, May 1988, 0 460 04761 2
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... such a detailed going-over? There is of course a sense in which his importance as a European and Western phenomenon can hardly be exaggerated. The kind of attention that Gay has brought to bear on his subject yields answers to some of the pressing questions we are likely to ask, while other questions, no less urgent, are left open. The early part of the book ...

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