WHAT IF?: The Satirical Writings of Kurt Tucholsky by Karl S. & Harry Zohn-Eds. Ross

WHAT IF?: The Satirical Writings of Kurt Tucholsky

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Tucholsky was born in Berlin in 1890, grew up as an assimilated Jew, published his prose, poetry and essays from 1913 to 1932, left Germany in 1924, and killed himself in 1935. This large collection of short pieces displays his versatility and unifying spirit. He demonstrated that ""humanism"" need not be dreary nor criticism dull. Here he attacks mis-education, bureaucracy, nationalism and militarism. When he fails, it is perhaps because he is too sympathetic with human frailty to be a first-rate satirist, and too modest intellectually to wield Shavian bludgeons. There is a devastating ""psychomonologue,"" however, about a crass ex-Jewish businessman of Berlin, still discussed as the Wendriner image. And some of the poetry is very biting, as in the prescient 1925 verses caricaturing the rise of the Teutonic spirit, and the poem about a ""socialist bigwig"" imbued with his organizational eminence. Not all the selections are political, by any means; others deal with zippers, travel, four ways of looking at a squirrel.... But we can hardly avoid reading him with an awareness of developments in Germany between his time and ours. His intrinsic value is inseparable from his historical interest--hence, it seems, the Tucholsky revival in German-speaking countries.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1967
Publisher: Funk & Wagnalls