Page 44 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 6 (1947-1948)

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cians and music lovers were always welcome and hospitably
received. For over twenty years Miss Berta Geissmar was secre-
tary to Wilhelm Furtwangler, eminent conductor of the Berlin
Philharmonic and opera. She left Germany to escape the Nazis
and became Sir Thomas Beecham’s secretary. In her
Two worlds
of music
(New York, Creative Age, 1946) she pictures two con-
trasting worlds of music — the losing struggle of Furtwangler
and the old cultured Germany against the Hitler machine and the
inspiring par t played by free and unregimented English music
through the worst days of blitz and robot bombs.
The artist in music quite often follows the artistic trends in the
literature of his day. Among the men of letters of recent years
whose ideas and mode of literary expression are gradually begin-
ning to exert a significant, though yet vague, influence is Franz
Kafka. A German Jewish writer in a Slavic country, an uprooted
artist among entrenched burghers, Kafka was well qualified to
represent the displaced person, to present the Central European
nightmare. Only a few of his fragmentary writings were published
during his brief career; most of them, dating from the F irst W7orld
War and its aftermath, prophetically foreshadow the causes and
effects of the Second. Homeless, his characters wander through
abandoned streets; helpless, they are shunted into prison camp.
No wonder there is now a revived interest in his life and work.
American and British publishers have made available English
versions of most of his writings and many critical appraisals of
their literary worth have appeared in some of our best magazines.
Franz Kafka
, a biography by Max Brod [translated from the
German by G. Humphreys Roberts] (New York, Schocken, 1947)
is a revealing work. The author of the biography, a distinguished
novelist, is Kafka’s literary executor. As such his. knowledge of
Kafka, the man and writer, is rather unique. His story of his
friend’s life is a worth-while contribution to literature. Worth-
while, too, is
The Kafka problem
, an anthology of critical writings
about Kafka by forty Europeans and two Americans edited by
Angel Flores (Norfolk, Conn., New Directions, 1946). I t is a
volume of exegesis of Kafka’s writings. An interesting work
dealing with a ’ distinguished contemporary of Kafka is
by Frederike Zweig [translated by E rna MacArthur] (New
York, Crowell, 1946). Illustrated with photographs and facsimiles,
it is an intimate biography of the late author by his widow, who
endeavors to present a detached critical evaluation of the man and
his place in world literature. Although written with a deep feeling
of love and devotion, it is more of a personal record of Zweig’s
life than a true analytical po rtra it of him. I t tells, among other
things, tha t Zweig’s grandfather, a prominent Jewish businessman