One of the pile of new books I got for Christmas was Michael Kampfmüller’s Die Herrlichkeit des Lebens, inspired by a glowing review in New Books in German a few years back. It sums the book up much better than I ever could, so I’ll link to it here.
I really appreciated the beautiful writing of this book. Although it is under 250 pages, it is a slow, meditative read. It gives a human perspective on politics and economics of Weimar Germany. The 1920s was a really bad time to move to Berlin in many ways! When, for example, Franz’s parents send him a cheque in Reichsmarks, he is furious because it has lost a third of its value by the time it arrives. It is also intriguing to see Kafka as a real person rather than through the prism of his writing. Even in the story it is how he is defined by himself and others – a writer, who earns a living in insurance, yet who isn’t writing. Not at first anyway. Here, though, he is a man – ill, in love, dying – while Dora Diamant is a young woman whose touching relationship with Franz comes at the beginning of her adult life, rather than its end.
I found this book interesting from a literary point of view, and touching as a general reader. I’m glad to see that it’s due out in English in March from Haus, translated by Anthea Bell.