An English-language resource for people interested in Jakob Wassermann.

As a first point of reference, the excellent German website has a wealth of information. It is well worth a visit, even if your German is as poor as mine.

Details about Wassermann's life and work are hard to obtain in English: I hope this helps, in part, to correct that.

Comments, suggestions, and corrections are more than welcome. Contact.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Praise for Wassermann

MY LIFE AS GERMAN AND JEW: 'A frank autobiographical study... an intensely interesting book... an eloquent attempt at self-vindication.' - The Times

'Jacob Wassermann... was one of the greatest, if not the greatest, of modern German novelists... in this autobiographical sketch he records the story of his life and his futile struggle for recognition in his native country.' - Manchester Guardian

'Everyone who has read the novels of this great writer should read this autobiography and then read them again... a man who writes in the name of humanity as well as of his own race. It is a testament of the age.' - New Britain

THE GOOSE-MAN: 'A full-length romantic novel in the grand style, which is also an easy introduction to a great writer's later work... The riches of Wassermann's art are never flaunted. They are contained and controlled.' - Daily Herald

WEDLOCK: 'An important novel... Wassermann has the hand of a fine classic writer... the book is intensely provoking and the characters are drawn from life by a master hand... a profoundly stimulating and astonishingly vital book, and one which may well achieve a large meed of immortality.' - Morning Post (The irony!)

'Wedlock is full, thoughtful and informed by a deep understanding of human suffering. There are chapters which entitle it to be called great... an exceedingly fine performance.' - Spectator

'Wedlock is the greatest novel to appear in the English language since The Maurizius Case.' - Bookman

THE JEWS OF ZIRNDORF: 'A striking and powerfully written work... noteworthy for the author's characteristic gift of intellectual creation and for the unsparing honesty of its discussion of a difficult subject.' - Times Literary Supplement

'Wassermann is one of the greatest novelists of our time... the theme is topical, and in view of the present proscription of Wassermann in Germany, has a pathetic interest which should arouse wide sympathy.' - Spectator

'Jacob Wassermann, now an exile from Germany, his books burnt by the Nazis, is one of the greatest novelists of our time, and this novel is a cry from the heart. There is nothing superficial about him: he sounds the depths of human feeling.' New Britain

FABER: OR THE LOST YEARS: 'As accomplished and fluent as the rest of this author's work of which the most salient feature is a passion for philosophical or metaphysical argument and the ability to cast that argument into highly dramatic forms.' - The Times

'Faber gives the impression of a sensitive intelligence at work, analysing and classifying human experience.' - Daily Telegraph

THE TRIUMPH OF YOUTH: 'It is a remarkable book and I read with an admiration which increased as I slowly penetrated into the story. What particularly astonishes and satisfies me in this book is its atmosphere of naturalness. Everything is terrible, but nothing is forced, and beauty disengages itself from the asphyxiating horror... Jacob Wassermann is indeed an uncommon fellow. He has at once imagination, insight, a fine sense of form, and marked dramatic power.' - Arnold Bennett in the Evening Standard

'The whole thing has the clear beauty of a medieval carving, with its suggestion, too, of the dark and grotesque and fearful... Its beauty, its vivid light that shines steadily above the darkness of the time cannot be conveyed. It must be read, and the penetrating sweetness and strength of it felt.' - Observer

'A fine page of mingled sweetness and horror drawn from the dreadful tale of the suppression of witchcraft. The earnest simplicity of the narrative is very convincing.' - Spectator

THE MAURIZIUS CASE: 'Philosophical, psychological, and dramatic was built up like an immense structure... stimulating and impressive.' - Manchester Guardian

'The oblique approach to events... is made with extraordinary skill and cunning. There are few German novelists more adroit than Herr Wassermann in points of narrative technique, and his dexterity here is altogether admirable. It is impossible not to admire the intellectual virtuosity of the entire book, and the ending is masterly.' - Times Literary Supplement

'His The Triumph of Youth is a masterpiece. I will not say that The Maurizius Case is not a masterpiece. The book is one of those to which, in order to get the full effect and beauty of them, you must surrender yourself without any conditions. Do that and you will be justly rewarded.' - Arnold Bennett

ETZEL ANDERGAST: 'Herr Wassermann handles his high theme throughout with greatest skill and dignity.' - Spectator

'A great book... a book to be judged among the world's books not among the week's books; it is great in conception and execution, in breadth and fullness of canvas, in dramatic intensity and dignity of thought. It is so great that it may be compared to War and Peace... so stupendous are his powers of creation, his characters seem to act for themselves... This masterpiece.' - Time and Tide

JOSEPH KERKHOVEN'S THIRD EXISTENCE: 'Wassermann's narrative powers... are superb. If the present is blinded by nearness the future must surely see him as one of the world's great novelists.' - Yorkshire Post (Again, the irony!)

WORLDS' ENDS: 'Each one is a gripping story, powerfully dramatic and hinging upon a subtle psychological factor. Certainly ought to be read ' - Evening Standard

'Each is a good example of his powerful and accomplished art.' - Times

'All of them are written with imagination and dramatic power, and the whole volume displays in a marked degree Herr Wassermann's extraordinary fertility of expression.' - Times Literary Supplement

'He must be placed among the three greatest living novelists. The poise and finish of the stories are superb. Every one is a microcosm of a world. They are all of them tragedies of the spirit clothed in aching but indomitable flesh.' - Referee

'Especially brilliant.' - Spectator

'These stories have a curious fascination, the longest "Erasmus"... displays in full measure Wassermann's imaginative and artistic gift.' - Morning Post

THE WORLD'S ILLUSION: 'Wassermann seems to me to be the biggest of the modern German novelists. His short historical novel, The Triumph of Youth, is entitled to rank as a masterpiece. In my opinion The World's Illusion is the finest post-war German novel yet translated into English... The major scenes are magnificent in heroic splendour. They are epical. And quite a number of the mere anecdotes related have superlative intrinsic value. In them is material for about 101 terrific short stories. And what a sweep the book has!' Arnold Bennett

'A finely imaginative piece of work... Wassermann is a novelist in the grand manner, combining immense creative power with a marked passion for ideas.' - Times Literary Supplement

'In The World's Illusion we run through the whole gamut of human experience. There are hundreds of characters, repulsive, complicated, lovable, vile, and fine, every one of whom is vigorously, if sometimes bestially, alive. The struggle of man to be free from the lust of the flesh is the main theme, but it is difficult to epitomise a book so crammed with wisdom and knowledge.' - Daily Telegraph

'Long as it is, this remarkable novel evenly maintains its vari-coloured themes; its orchestration is superb. Indeed, it has something of the effect of a Wagnerian opera... The medieval intensity of Wassermann's genius dwells on this array of aristocrats, voluptuaries, cynics, artists, dancers, princes, and apaches, till they acquire a strange richness, violence, and decorative value. This book is a tissue of horror and splendour, curling into flame at the edges.' - Spectator

'One of the greatest works of fiction of this or any other century. Wassermann poured all his amazing creative genius and literary art into it and gave the world a finished masterpiece which will surely stand the test of time as invincibly as War and Peace, Madame Bovary, and The Brothers Karamazov... A novel which is the triumphant literary crown of this age.' - Referee (And once again, the irony!)

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