Alfred Döblin, Berlin Alexanderplatz

Berlin Alexanderplatz by Alfred Döblin My rating: 4 of 5 stars Let's get the literary-historical info and honorifics out of the way first: Berlin Alexanderplatz is one of the monuments of the modernist novel, often compared to Joyce's Ulysses ("quite wrongly and needlessly," says the present translator, about which more later) for its linguistic and … Continue reading Alfred Döblin, Berlin Alexanderplatz

Thomas Mann, Doctor Faustus

Doctor Faustus by Thomas Mann My rating: 5 of 5 stars Far out to sea the water's as blue as the petals of the loveliest cornflower, and as clear as the purest glass; but it's very deep, deeper than any anchor can reach. Many church steeples would have to be piled up one above the … Continue reading Thomas Mann, Doctor Faustus

Theodor Adorno, Minima Moralia: Reflections on a Damaged Life

Minima Moralia: Reflections on a Damaged Life by Theodor W. Adorno My rating: 5 of 5 stars It helps to know that this 1951 book, an unclassifiable philosophical masterpiece consisting of 153 divisions ranging in length from the aphorism to the brief essay, was written largely in the light of Southern California. Adorno was a … Continue reading Theodor Adorno, Minima Moralia: Reflections on a Damaged Life

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust

Faust by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe My rating: 5 of 5 stars Goethe's Faust, including Part One and Part Two, was written over the entire course of the author's adult life, begun when he was in his twenties and finished when he was in his eighties, at the threshold of death. Many dates can be … Continue reading Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust

Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain

The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann My rating: 5 of 5 stars I would love to write 1000 or 2000 words in dismayed praise of The Magic Mountain, this magisterial 1924 classic of world fiction whose preface threatens that it may take the reader seven years to read, the same number of years that it … Continue reading Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain

W. G. Sebald, After Nature

After Nature by W.G. Sebald My rating: 4 of 5 stars Given my mild ambivalence about Sebald, I thought I would make this small book, the author's first, my next destination on the gray-toned walking tour of European ruin that is the Sebaldian oeuvre. I think of Sebald's gift as essentially lyric, in the sense … Continue reading W. G. Sebald, After Nature

W. G. Sebald, The Rings of Saturn

The Rings of Saturn by W.G. Sebald My rating: 3 of 5 stars I do not feel as I am supposed to, as a good literary citizen should, about Sebald. I am certainly entertained by him (I have read Austerlitz as well as The Rings of Saturn) but no more than entertained. His appropriative art … Continue reading W. G. Sebald, The Rings of Saturn

Ernst Jünger, The Glass Bees

The Glass Bees by Ernst Jünger My rating: 4 of 5 stars The Glass Bees is a short, dense philosophical novel about an old cavalryman, Richard, in need of money—because his life has been marred by an "evil star," which he calls "defeatism," an inability to side with power or conventionality. His old friend and … Continue reading Ernst Jünger, The Glass Bees