A beguiling fable about a summer holiday in the Swedish countryside that transforms into a provocative parable about oppression and the evil awaiting Europe as the Nazis came to power.
Kurt Tucholsky (1890-1935) was a prominent intellectual of the Weimar Republic and a caustic satirist whose polemical articles against the rise of the Nazi Party contain some of the most devastating political criticism on record. After being forced into exile in Sweden in 1932, he lapsed into a silence that was part of his repudiation of Germany and the Nazi takeover. It was during his exile that Tucholsky wrote Castle Gripsholm, his only novel and last work. He committed suicide in 1935. Michael Hofmann is a poet and translator. He has translated nine books by Joseph Roth and was awarded the PEN Translation Prize for String of Pearls. His new translation of Alfred D blin's Berlin Alexanderplatz is available from NYRB Classics and his selection of poems by W.S. Graham is forthcoming from NYRB Poets. His Selected Poems were published in 2010. He lives in Germany and Florida.
"Some books, like most summer holidays, feel entirely undeserved
and all too brief. Such is the case with the delightful Castle
Gripsholm." -Jan Wilm, Music and Literature
"[A] monument to the loss of faith in language and the depredations upon creativity brought about by large-scale political evil . . . the formal disjointedness which terror and despair evidently incited now reads as more truthful-it's certainly far more moving-than ever a more finished fiction, a more polished satire would have been." -The Observer
"The first writers that come to mind when reading Tucholsky are Nabokov and Ford . . . [Tucholsky is] a master of the studied nonchalance of the tidily perverse." -The Times (London)
"One of the most brilliant writers of republican Germany . . . Tucholsky was known and feared for his sharp wit by all his enemies in Germany. More than anyone else, he foresaw what was coming there. What his readers enjoyed as capricious fantasies of a clever satirist [were] enacted in bitter reality." -The New York Times
"The author, a polemical journalist during the last days of the Weimar Republic, chose in this, his only novel, to write about the pleasures of wine and women and the gratifications of friendship, and to do so in prose so luminous and exuberant that the bitterness of real life seems . . . an intrusion." -Publishers Weekly
"Kurt Tucholsky wrote songs for Berlin revues, ridiculed the Nazis . . . and found refuge in Sweden only to take his own life. . . . There is scarcely any figure in English literature with quite the same degree of acid corrosiveness. One has the sense that all our little disappointments-in love, in business, in politics-are but manifestations of the collective disappointment that is life itself."
-Michael J. Lewis, Commentary