Weimar on the Pacific: German Exile Culture in Los Angeles and the Crisis of Modernism

By Abbott, Scott | Goethe Yearbook, January 1, 2010 | Go to article overview

Weimar on the Pacific: German Exile Culture in Los Angeles and the Crisis of Modernism


Abbott, Scott, Goethe Yearbook


Ehrhard Bahr, Weimar on the Pacific: German Exile Culture in Los Angeles and the Crisis of Modernism. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2007. 358 pp.

Newly arrived from Europe in 1939,Thomas Mann finished his novel Lotte in Weimar with words addressed to a celebrity: "Good god, Frau Hoff ätin, I must say: To help Werther's Lotte out of Goethe's carriage, that is an event- what can I say? It must be written down."Two years later, The New Yorker titled society reporter Janet Flanner's article about Thomas Mann in California "Goethe in Hollywood." (Mann responded that every-other fact was false.) And with that the real and fictional journey through time and space from Goethe's eighteenth-century Weimar to the Weimar Republic's Magic Mountain and from there to Hollywood's mythical shores was completed.

Ih this forty-first volume of the distinguished series "Weimar Now: German Cultural Criticism," Ehrhard Bahr ranges from the theory of Adorno and Horkheimer to Brecht's California work, from the architecture of pre-exile Richard Neutra and Rudolph Schindler to works by Werfel and Döblin, and from Thomas Mann's Doktor Faustus to Schoenberg's late work.The book elicits some of the interdisciplinary pleasures apt to emerge from a look at a topic like this; but because it is more a set of loosely connected essays than the promised treatise on exile LA and modernism, it can be frustrating as well.

Bahr writes that his book is unique among studies of German-speaking exiles in LA because "the crisis of modernism . . . found a specific German answer in Los Angeles" (9)· He cites Raymond Williams on modernism as a response to new media and border crossings (9). He uses Russell Berman's book The Rise of the Modern German Novel to think in passing about "fascist modernism, leftist modernism, and a modernism of social individuality" (1 1 - 1 2). In the book's first chapter he catalogues some of the arguments in Adorno and Horkheimer's Dialectic of Enlightenment and mentions Jameson's A Singular Modernity to talk about modernist defamiliarization (39-40). He writes about Brecht's California poetry as "a prime example of modernist poetics in exile" (104), but, oddly, does so in Bettina Englmann's postmodern context in which Brecht's "demand of realist literature was a demand for deconstruction" (104). He cites Ruth Klüger to the effect that modernism involves "'in theme, a sense of doom and isolation, in form, a highly complex structure and a style that is not easily penetrable'" (190). And repeatedly he seems to sum up modernity simply as a movement in whose art closure is denied (21).

Each of the works Bahr describes in some detail - and the number of novels and plays and buildings and musical compositions produced by these artists in exile is impressive indeed - is briefly measured against this hodgepodge standard of modernism and/or against ideas from Adorno and Horkheimer. For instance, Werfel's work, "in contrast to Adorno 's concept of literature and art ... is devoid of any dialectic . . . and is a 'regress to mythology'" (186). "Dublin's novel is a 'regress to mythology'" (222). …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Weimar on the Pacific: German Exile Culture in Los Angeles and the Crisis of Modernism
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.