I picked up this book at Seminary Co-op. To say that it is fascinating and horrifying is to make a banal statement. In this work which has recently been translated into English Jean-Michel Palmier tells the world about the oppression of poets, writers and artists whose work truly mattered.
I often find the lack of political engagement among American poets disturbing. I want to scream
NO ONE CARES ABOUT YOUR PERSONAL BULL SHIT!!!!!!!!!!!! NO ONE CARES ABOUT YOUR VIEWS ON SOME OBSCURE SINGER OR ART PIECE!!!!!!!!!THERE ARE MORE IMPORTANT THINGS.
In reading this book you see what an engaged intellectual class means to a totalitarian. Alfred Rosenburg, one of Hitler's henchmen once said "Whenever I hear the world Culture I reach for my Revolver" would anyone want to shoot you for the poetry you write?
In Weimar in Exile there is a section I have just reached about the book burnings of May 10th 1934. The books that were burned were the finest works that Europe ever produced and the intellectual life that was crushed by Hitler has never returned to Germany. Weimar gave so much to the world. All I have to do is look out my window in Chicago at the buildings that Mies built here instead of Berlin to see what Germany lost.
America has never been an intellectual country. But it has been our intellectuals who have determined our fate. Mark Twain, Walt Whitman, Gertrude Stein, Henry David Thoreau and the rest defined us as a nation and all their books have been banned and burned. Who are the intellectuals who oppose our current Fascism?
I look at the thinkers of Weimar and I wonder.