THE POOR IN SPIRIT by Otto Friedrich


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A strange, tortured, perverted sort of book that seems- for this reader- to have small excuse for being published. The setting is Berlin of the occupation; the characters, Paul Stein, self conscious Jew, and Magdalena Rilke, German waif, and her bestial lover, Klaus. A strange triangle, bound, not by love or passion, but by sheer necessity of inter-dependence. Paul, an American, was furtively hounded by his need for Magdalena, used feeble excuses to seek her out. Magdalena, living on the ragged edge of cadged food, cadged cigarettes, was as superficial as a child or an animal in her affections. Klaus pursued his illegal practices in the Black Market, equally fearful of the Russians and the Americans. And the shoddy wasteland of Berlin provided fitting backdrop. The story- such as it la is told in a sort of stream of consciousness manner. Paul and Magdalena have an affair. It touches neither very profoundly. It ends. The telling is undistinguished, the story dull.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1952
Publisher: Little, Brown