One summer before World War I, a young couple escapes on a romantic weekend getaway to the small German town of Rheinsberg, north of Berlin, in the midst of a rural landscape filled with country houses and castles, cobble-stone streets, lush forests, and dreamy lakes. The story of Wolfie and Claire, told with a fresh, new style of ironic humor, became Kurt Tucholsky’s first literary success and the blueprint for love for an entire generation.
Kurt Tucholsky was a was a brilliant satirist, poet, storyteller, lyricist, pacifist, and Democrat; a fighter, lady’s man, one of the most famous journalists in Weimar Germany, and an early warner against the Nazis. Erich Kaestner called him a "small, fat Berliner," who "wanted to stop a catastrophe with his typewriter". When Tucholsky began to write, he had five voices—in the end, he had none. His books were burned and banned by the Nazis, who drove him out of his country. But he is not forgotten.
Rheinsberg is at once a delightful and a deeply disquieting story. The lovers, Claire and Wolfie—a silly but harmless pair—escape the confines of Berlin for a romantic romp in the countryside. As their brief interlude nears its end, already consigned to memory, there comes with it an end to innocence, to frivolity. It was 1912; Kurt Tucholsky’s prescience was uncanny: the holiday is over and soon we will go to war. --Binnie Kirshenbaum, author of Hester Among the Ruins and The Scenic Route
Once known as Weimar Germany’s greatest political satirist and one of that fabled era’s most celebrated literary figures, Kurt Tucholsky is today virtually unknown in America. Now, readers have the chance to discover one of his early pieces of fiction that exhibits the intense wit, charm, and rhetorical verve for which he earned his reputation.” —Noah Isenberg, author of Between Redemption and Doom: The Strains of German-Jewish Modernism
In Rheinsberg, Tucholsky delivers the newness and intensity of young love, sweet, sometimes strident, with repartee juxtaposed against the sylvan landscape of rural Germany. Poignant, biting, tender: a reminder of what love promises…and can be. —Victoria Zackheim, playwright, novelist, and anthologist
A wonderful and charming love story, finally rediscovered and brought to America —Claudia Dreifus, Professor of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University, New York
Teachers and students of history and literature will welcome this collection of texts by Kurt Tucholsky, an early 20th century master of literary and political criticism, whose incisive and elegant voice will now be more widely available in English. —Atina Grossmann, Professor of History at Cooper Union and author of Jews, Germans and Allies: Close Encounters in Occupied Germany
Rheinsberg—a short story of two unconventional lovers in the last carefree days of Germany before 1914. The first major work by the anti-Nazi journalist and poet Kurt Tucholsky finally appears in a new translation for English speakers. —Ian King, Professor of German, Chair of the Kurt Tucholsky SocietyÜber den Autor:
Kurt Tucholsky was a brilliant satirist, poet, storyteller, lyricist, pacifist, and Democrat; a fighter, lady’s man, reporter, and early warner against the Nazis who hated and loathed him and drove him out of Germany after his books were burned in 1933. His contemporary Erich Kaestner called him a "small, fat Berliner," who "wanted to stop a catastrophe with his typewriter." The New York Times hailed him as "one of the most brilliant writers of republican Germany. He was a poet as well as a critic and was so versatile that he used five or six pen names. As Peter Panter he was an outstanding essayist who at one time wrote topical sketches in the Vossische Zeitung, which ceased to appear under the Nazi regime; as Theobald Tiger he wrote satirical poems that were frequently interpreted by popular actors in vaudeville and cabartes, and as Ignatz Wrobel he contributed regularly to the Weltbühne, an independent weekly that was one of the first publications prohibited by the Hitler government." Tucholsky, who occupied the center stage in the tumultuous political and cultural world of 1920s Berlin, still emerges as an astonishingly contemporary figure. As an angry truth-teller, he pierced the hypocrisy and corruption around him with acute honesty. Imagine a writer with the acid voice of Christopher Hitchens and the satirical whimsy of Jon Stewart, combined with the iconoclasm of Bill Maher. That’s Tucholsky in a nutshell. Like Hitchens, Tucholsky wrote a mixture of literary essays, social observations, and political commentary. His irony made the line between his “serious writing” and his “entertainments” almost invisible. The fashionable outsider watched the political “center” disappear, and, in the end, he found himself catapulted out of society altogether. His career was sandwiched between the two most deadly events of his century: the bloodbath of World War I and the scourge of Nazism. Just as the first war launched Hemingway’s lifelong career as a wounded tough guy with a soft spot for guns and broads, Tucholsky discovered the reflexes of an escape artist. He was equally elusive as a writer. In today’s world, a journalist isn’t supposed to write plays, and a playwright isn’t welcomed as a novelist. But in 1920s Berlin, Tucholsky was dealing with postwar realities that required shouting from the rooftops, and any rooftop would do.
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