The Eternal Philistine
Ödön von Horváth Shalom Auslander Benjamin Dorvel
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Oct 23, 2020 - 03:03 AM By Ödön von Horváth Shalom Auslander Benjamin Dorvel

This never before translated work by a major yet overlooked mid 20th century writer is a brutally funny look at the human comedy on the eve of Europe s decent into Fascism.It tells the tale of a failed used car salesman who wants to live the high life, and so decides to travel by train from Munich to Barcelona to attend the World s Fair in hopes of meeting a beautiful, rThis never before translated work by a major yet overlooked mid 20th century writer is a brutally funny look at the human comedy on the eve of Europe s decent into Fascism.It tells the tale of a failed used car salesman who wants to live the high life, and so decides to travel by train from Munich to Barcelona to attend the World s Fair in hopes of meeting a beautiful, rich woman who will provide for his every whim.It s a highly stylized and, at times, raucously funny tale of the almost absurd a dark and satiric look at Europeans, and especially Germans, on the brink of cataclysm Adrift in their acquisitive desires, they are vulnerable to the propaganda of the State making this novel brilliantly foresightful in its understanding of politics and human nature at a crucial point in modern history d n von Horv th s scathing insight, in fact, led to his having to flee the very society he depicted when, living in Berlin, he drew the wrath of the Nazis And yet this hilarious tour de force written just after his escape, and just before his death in a tragic accident eschews bitterness for rambunctious perseverance and compassion, and provides ample evidence of why von Horv th deserves renewed appreciation.
  • Title: The Eternal Philistine
  • Author: Ödön von Horváth Shalom Auslander Benjamin Dorvel
  • ISBN: 9781935554479
  • Page: 140
  • Format: Paperback

Comments

Justin Evans Oct 23, 2020 - 03:03 AM
A brewery here in the U.S. advertizes its products as if they were deliberately offensive: "It's not too strong, you're too weak" and that kind of thing. That is how this book should advertize itself. Essentially, you are too soppy and pathetic to deal with Horvath's rage, and too conventional and boring to accept the bizarre structure he uses to convey said rage. Because, my friend, you are a philistine. "The philistine," he tells us, is "an egoist who suffers from hypochondria, and this is why [...]
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Josh Oct 23, 2020 - 03:03 AM
I tend to like publishers that expose me to authors and/or books that I haven't experienced much less heard of, hence why I'm a big follower of anything NYRB related, so when I came across the 'Neversink' library put out by Melville House Books, I was elated to find a collection that I could follow as well. (I blame all the Simenon books for leading me in that direction!)With that said, Horvath's 'The Eternal Philistine' is probably not the best place to start if you're new to Neversink territor [...]
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Jennifer Oct 23, 2020 - 03:03 AM
Okay, I will admit it. I was very likely influenced to order this book instead of any other from the Neversink collection because there was a forward written by Shalom Auslander, author of the wickedly awesome collection of short stories, Beware of God. Once I'd read that introduction, I have to say, that if I had picked this book up in a shop somewhere, and skimmed through or read that introduction, I would have been compelled to buy this book immediately, at nearly any cost, no matter the stat [...]
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Mike Clinton Oct 23, 2020 - 03:03 AM
This short novel written in 1930 had three sections. The first one took up most of the book and told the story of Kobler, an ex-car salesman on the make, who takes a picaresque journey by train from his home in Munich to the World's Fair in Barcelona, where he expects to find a wealthy "Egyptian" woman - although any nationality will do - who will keep him in luxury once he's placed her in a compromising position by debauching her. The much briefer middle section relates how Anna, an unemployed [...]
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mark Oct 23, 2020 - 03:03 AM
This short book tells the story of a German used-car salesman on a train trip to the 1929 Barcelona world's fair, hoping to find there some diversion, mostly in the form of available women. He encounters a journalist also on his way there, with similar ideas. Their misadventures, and their meditations upon the state of the Europe between-the-wars, are both hilarious and prophetic. Don't skip the introduction by Shalom Auslander, it is perhaps even funnier than the book itself.
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Dustin Kurtz Oct 23, 2020 - 03:03 AM
The introduction is one of the most forceful, persuasive and damned funny arguments for satire you'll ever read.The book itself is somehow no less biting even the better part of a century later.
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Matthew Oct 23, 2020 - 03:03 AM
"Human life," Ödön von Horváth wrote, "is always a tragedy and only in individual episodes is it a comedy." Set in the political and economical instability of Europe after the First World War and before the rise of Fascism, THE ETERNAL PHILISTINE is an episodic novel that explores both the comic and the tragic. The novel begins"The philistine is, as is generally known, an egoist who suffers from hypochondria, and this is why he seeks, like a coward, to fit in wherever he goes and to distort e [...]
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Ermy Rukmana Oct 23, 2020 - 03:03 AM
Shalom Auslander's introduction to this book is definitely one of the better ones I've read. It was extremely witty and enjoyable to read. The novel itself, though short, was also a pleasure to read. The plot was kept simple but the themes and nuances sufficiently profound. One's appreciation of the content may be discounted if one lacks the knowledge of historical background, seeing how this was set post WWI period. Nevertheless, Horvath's writing style is so excellent that I believe any good r [...]
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Lauren Huibregtse Oct 23, 2020 - 03:03 AM
When my friend Shane brought this book to me- he promised it to be a literature "snack". Although the book was short- it was rich with content. Horvath is a brilliant humorist who rote in Germany before World War II and later faced prosecution from the Nazis which forced him to leave his country. His writing is concise and pithy- and an overall joy to read!
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Mark Oct 23, 2020 - 03:03 AM
Reading this as research, I really did not expect to fall in love with it as much as I did. It's quirky and bold, and Horváth just nails the intersection of economics, politics, and sex. It's a funny, ribald shaggy dog story that ends with just a glimmer of hope.
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Salvatore Oct 23, 2020 - 03:03 AM
The introduction sets the book up to be a disappointment. A decent, quiet read with memorable and humorous moments. It doesn't go beyond that, and it doesn't need to. But Auslander's intro is a disservice in that regard.
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James Oct 23, 2020 - 03:03 AM
Incisive satire of German society on the eve of the Second World War. There are few great German satirist--Heinrich Mann is another--therefore I recommend this book, it's a must read!
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Jonathan Norton Oct 23, 2020 - 03:03 AM
Excellent satire from 1930, eerily still relevant.
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William S. Oct 23, 2020 - 03:03 AM
A good satire on German culture after WWI. The book is in between 3 and 4 out of 5.
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Susu Oct 23, 2020 - 03:03 AM
Reading the German original "Der ewige Spießer"Ein Blick hinter die Kulisse des Bürgertums - ein bißchen aus der Zeit gefallen. Gelegentlich amüsant, aber vom Sarkasmus bleibt nicht so viel übrig.
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The Eternal Philistine By Ödön von Horváth Shalom Auslander Benjamin Dorvel This never before translated work by a major yet overlooked mid 20th century writer is a brutally funny look at the human comedy on the eve of Europe s decent into Fascism.It tells the tale of a failed used car salesman who wants to live the high life, and so decides to travel by train from Munich to Barcelona to attend the World s Fair in hopes of meeting a beautiful, rThis never before translated work by a major yet overlooked mid 20th century writer is a brutally funny look at the human comedy on the eve of Europe s decent into Fascism.It tells the tale of a failed used car salesman who wants to live the high life, and so decides to travel by train from Munich to Barcelona to attend the World s Fair in hopes of meeting a beautiful, rich woman who will provide for his every whim.It s a highly stylized and, at times, raucously funny tale of the almost absurd a dark and satiric look at Europeans, and especially Germans, on the brink of cataclysm Adrift in their acquisitive desires, they are vulnerable to the propaganda of the State making this novel brilliantly foresightful in its understanding of politics and human nature at a crucial point in modern history d n von Horv th s scathing insight, in fact, led to his having to flee the very society he depicted when, living in Berlin, he drew the wrath of the Nazis And yet this hilarious tour de force written just after his escape, and just before his death in a tragic accident eschews bitterness for rambunctious perseverance and compassion, and provides ample evidence of why von Horv th deserves renewed appreciation.

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