Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Penguin Modern Classics 4 – German Classics

There are only four writers represented in my German modern classics, chief of which is Hermann Hesse. When I was a young thing, I identified with Hesse’s novel Steppenwolf , but these days laugh at my youthful naivety and feel a tad embarrassed about it. Still, I must admit, the Penguin Modern Classics covers are quite extraordinary.

I do not have a copy of his novel Siddhartha, but I have a wonderful memory of going to view the 1972 film of the novel to check out its counter cultural credentials for the film distributors (Roadshow)  in their private cinema, before they released it.

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1965 edition – cover art by Paul Klee 1972 edition – cover by Paul Klee  “Constructiv-Impressive”

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1972 edition – cover “Abbey Under The Oaks” by Caspar David Friedrich

Franz Kafka certainly needs no introduction, being one of  the most influential  writers  of the 20th century.  Haruki Murakami, Albert Camus, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, among others, admit to his influence on their work.

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1966 edition – cover “Enigma of the Hour” by D de Chirico 1966 edition – “Ruins” by Lotte B Prechner


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1967 edition – cover “Hibou” by Max Ernst

Alfred Kubin’s best known novel is The Other Side “a fantastic novel set in an oppressive imaginary land”. I’d forgotten I had this book. I vaguely recall reading it back in the 1970s, but can’t remember a thing about it.

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1973 edition – cover “Die Lachend Sphinx” by Kubin

Finally for the Germans, Thomas Mann, who was  also very popular back in the 1960s and 70s. For some reason I have two copies of his novel The Holy Sinner published in different decades. The most memorable of his novels for me is The Magic Mountain, but I have lost my copy of the book.

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1965 edition – cover art by Brian Wildsmith 1975 edition –cover “Ecco Homo” by Lois Corinth

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1971 edition – “Selbstbildnis Skellet” by Lois Corinth

Penguin Modern Classics will continue with classic American writers.

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