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Novelist Lion Feuchtwanger (1884 - 1958)
by Harold von Hofe
the fall of 1940 Lion Feuchtwanger, then internationally the most widely
read novelist writing in the German language, arrived in the Excalibur
in New York. He was accompanied by the Reverend Waitstill Sharp, who,
with his wife Martha, was sponsored by American Unitarian Association
to help refugees escape Nazi persecution. In Lisbon, crowded with thousands
desperate to leave Europe, Feuchtwanger was able to obtain passage to
New York since Martha Sharp gave him her ticket.
The name Feuchtwanger
had become a literary by-word by 1926-1927 in England and America when
his first major novel, Jud Süß, was brought out as
Jew Suess by Martin Secker in London, and as Power by
the Viking Press in New York. The stern London critic Arnold Bennett
characterized the story about the eighteenth century Jewish courtier
Joseph Süss Oppenheimer as a novel that enthralled while it broadened
knowledge. The Londoner reported April 1,1927 that Jew Suess
ran away with the season's plums. For the American critic Clifton Fadiman
it was a historical novel of epical dimensions. Matthew Josephson wrote
in the New York Herald Book Review that Feuchtwanger won an honored
place among the foremost writers of Europe, for his novel was executed
upon the large romantic canvas of a Dumas, filled with the cruel human
details of a Tom Jones, and resembled in plan Stendhal's La Chartreuse
de Parme and Le Rouge et le Noir.
author of a novel, which incisively portrayed Jewish themes, was odious
to National Socialists, whose party was growing in the twenties. His
novel Success (Erfolg), on which Feuchtwanger started to work
in 1927, was published in 1930 when the Nazis received 18.3 percent
of the votes. In the eyes of Goebbels, Feuchtwanger became an un-German
the subtitle "History of a Providence," i.e. Bavaria. Its
action takes place in a Munich seemingly cosmopolitan, but essentially
a provincial town spawning National Socialism. Years before Hitler's
assumption of power Feuchtwanger created the fictional person Rupert
Kutzner, who founded the party of "The True Germans."Kutzner
"orated in a high and sometimes hysterical voice; the words flowed
effortlessly from his broad, pale lips... . The system of capital and
interest, the Jews, and the Pope were to blame for the wretchedness
of the Germans. The international ring of the Jewish financiers was
trying to destroy the German people, as a tubercle bacillus tries to
destroy a healthy lung. Once the parasites were eliminated, a healthy
society would be created. When Kutzner stopped speaking, his thin lips
with the faint dark mustache and the sleek hair plastered over his head
make his face look like a mask, but as soon as he opened his mouth,
his face became curiously mobile with a hysterical vivacity...".
observed in 1930 that Berlin was populated by future exiles, Goebbels
added that Feuchtwanger had earned his place among them.
The writer arrived
in the States in November 1932 to begin a lecture tour; he did not foresee
that he would lose his house and library in Berlin and would never return
to his native Germany. On Monday, January 30, 1933 he was guest of honor
at a dinner in Washington, D.C. hosted by the then German ambassador
Friedrich Wilhelm von Prittwitz und Gaffron. At five o'clock on that
day Hitler was appointed Chancellor and presided over the first meeting
with his Cabinet. On
Tuesday Prittwitz called Feuchtwanger to warn him not to return to Germany.
Feuchtwanger foresaw that Hitler meant war, rejoined his wife Marta
in Europe and found asylum until 1940 in Sanary, in the South of France.
Prittwitz resigned at the time from the diplomatic corps; he was the
only major German diplomat to do so. On August 25, 1933 the official
Nazi Reichsanzeiger published its first list of those whose German citizenship
was revoked because of "disloyalty to the German Reich and the
German people." Lion Feuchtwanger's name was number six on the
was completing the first anti-Nazi novel written by a German writer
in exile, The Oppermanns, portraying the malevolent pressure
exerted on the German-Jewish Oppermann family from November 9, 1932
to the summer of 1933. British Prime Minister Ramsay McDonald had commissioned
Feuchtwanger to draft a script for an anti-Hitler moving picture, but
changed his mind and decided "to swallow Hitler." Earlier
that year, Feuchtwanger recalled, American politicians had suggested
to him in Washington that "Hitler be given a chance."
The policy of appeasement
prevailed until 1938. Feuchtwanger, however, resolved not to swallow
the harassment of the Jewish people, including his brothers Martin,
Fritz and Ludwig. With the publication of The Oppermanns he became
a prominent spokesman for the opposition to the Third Reich. The final
portion of the novel, entitled "Tomorrow," bears the motto:
"It is upon us to begin the work. It is not upon us to complete
Within a year of
the original publication by Querido, Amsterdam 1933, The Oppermanns
provided insight into the harsh daily routine of 600,000 German-Jewish
people in Hitler Germany. Within a year it was made available to readers
of ten other languages: Czech, Danish, English, Finnish, Hebrew, Hungarian,
Norwegian, Polish and Swedish.
In Southern France
he wrote The Pretender (Der falsche Nero), 1936, in which he
traced a similarity between two mediocrities: a Roman upstart claiming
to be Nero and Adolf Hitler, and the topical novel Paris Gazette (Exile),
1940 depicting the disastrous as well as the ludicrous sides of the
German exiles' life in Paris at that time.
After spending several
months in the Soviet Union, he wrote Moscow 1937, a book disputed
to the present day. Feuchtwanger has occasionally been characterized
as a Marxist writer or as a writer who was a Marxist. His leftist friends
Brecht and Becher were convinced that he was neither.
The East German
Feuchtwanger biographer Joseph Pischel, however, squeezed Marxist thinking
out of numerous passages that are unpolitical. His conclusions cannot
stand up, for there is unappreciable evidence of socialist thinking
in Feuchtwanger's novels. His Moscow 1937 does, however, contain
data in support of the Soviet Union as a state whose socioeconomic structure
is based on rational principles of the Enlightenment. Just as important,
it was steadfastly anti-Nazi at a time when Chamberlain of England and
Daladier of France were appeasers.
In France Feuchtwanger
completed the trilogy, begun in Berlin, on the life and work of Flavius
Josephus, the Jewish historian who lived in superficially friendly Rome
in the first century A.D. Wishing to transcend his Roman affiliation
as well as his Jewish nationalism, he aspired to world citizenship.
The "Psalm of the World Citizen" is at the core of the trilogy.
Josephus sought an undivided cosmopolitan world but, again and again,
was thrown back to his Jewish origins. At the end of the final novel
Josephus realized that he had sought global scope too soon, but that
The Day Will Come, as the title reads.
World War II broke
out while Feuchtwanger was working on the last chapters of Josephus.
Feuchtwanger and thousands of other anti-Fascists were interned in France.
German exiles were Germans and potentially dangerous. During the Sitzkrieg,
la guerre drôle, he was released after a short stay in the interment
camp Les Milles, but when the Wehrmacht invaded France in 1940 he was
interned once more in Les Milles on May 21. Some inmates fled, but a
portion of the others were later shipped to Auschwitz.
of events, unpredictable from day to day, the American consular corps,
the American Rescue Committee and the Unitarians constituted a many-colored
setting in Southern France.
After the signing
of the armistice June 22, 1940 by Pétain, the French equivalent
of Hindenburg in 1933, it was rumored in Les Milles that German troops
were moving in. A portion of the inmates was wedged into a trains-characterized
as "The Ghost Train" in Feuchtwanger's The Devil in France.
It traveled as far as Bayonne, several kilometers at a time, before
returning and discharging its prisoners at Camp St. Nicholas near Nîmes,
about sixty-five miles west of Marseilles.
In Marseilles Marta
Feuchtwanger began to orchestrate an escape. She walked to the head
of the line at the American Consulate claiming, falsely, that she was
a friend of Deputy Consul Miles Standish (sic). Standish, familiar with
the name of Feuchtwanger, introduced her to Hiram Bingham, the official
in charge of visas. When she shed tears-"Americans can't stand
seeing a woman cry"-Bingham offered to give her shelter in his
Marta took the second
step by suggesting to Standish that Nanette Lekisch, wife of a physician
interned with Lion Feuchtwanger, could guide an American consular official
from Nîmes to the camp at St. Nicholas and engineer an escape.1
Standish volunteered. Since prisoners bathed in a small river near Nîmes
in the middle of the afternoon, Mrs. Lekisch was convinced that an escape
had chances of success at that time of day.
Several days later,
Miles Standish rode in a chauffeur driven car to Nîmes, met Nanette
Lekisch, found Lion by the river clad only in shorts and showed him
a note from Marta: "Don't ask anything, don't say anything, go
along." Lion got into the car. On the back seat Standish helped
Lion into a woman's overcoat, put a shawl over his head an gave him
dark glasses When French police officers stopped the American car and
asked Standish who the lady was, Standish replied that it was his mother-in-law.
joined his wife at Bingham's villa on the rue du Commandant Rollin in
the outskirts of Marseilles. Bingham had arranged to have a picture
of Feuchtwanger standing behind a barbed wire fence at Les Milles sent
to America. Ben Huebsch of Feuchtwanger's publisher, Viking Press, had
friends show the photo to Eleanor Roosevelt. She and her husband got
out word that an emergency visa be issued, unofficially; career diplomats,
some in all likelihood anti-Semitic, had conducted their affairs in
keeping with the official American policy of neutrality. Bingham, whom
Feuchtwanger characterized on July 22, 1940, in his unpublished diary,
as an awkward but dutiful man of good will, found conversations with
his knowledgeable guest to be an animating intellectual experience,
however. They even felt conspiratorial rapport when they were visited
by the American Consul General Abbott, who was apparently hostile to
Bingham made contact
with Varian Fry, member of the American Emergency Rescue Committee,
which was established with the tacit approval of Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Fry helped Franz Werfel, Alma Mahler Werfel, Heinrich Mann and the latter's
nephew Golo, son of Thomas Mann, flee to Spain but he was intimidated
by the name Feuchtwanger, archenemy of the Nazis. Through the intervention
of Mrs. Roosevelt, however, the Reverent Waitstill Sharp, minister of
the Unitarian Church in Wellesley Hills, Massachusetts, appeared unexpectedly
in Marseilles and nervously introduced himself to Feuchtwanger: "I
am here to help you leave France."
Sharp, his wife,
Bingham, Fry and Feuchtwanger conceived a venturesome project. Mr. and
Mrs. Sharp-under-estimated to the present day-carried out the preparatory
portions. Martha Sharp rented a room at the Marseilles hotel, only seemingly
adjacent to the station but actually built into it; a tunnel led from
the hotel to the train ramps. Lion and Marta Feuchtwanger went to Mrs.
Sharp's room after dark, slipped through the tunnel and were joined
on the platform by the resolute Reverend Sharp. They boarded a train
to Cerbère, a fishing village at the foot of the mountains. Feuchtwanger's
emergency visa was made out in the name of Wetcheek-feucht = wet, Wange
= cheek-, a pseudonym he had used in the twenties. Marta Feuchtwanger's
carte d'identité was made out in her own name.
Knapsack on their
backs, Wetcheek-Feuchtwanger and Marta walked from the village through
vineyards and up the boulders-strewn mountains to the Spanish custom
office. Wetcheek entered first and was checked through. When Marta followed
she held out her carte d'identité and simultaneously dropped
numerous packs of cigarettes on the desk. She had just learned, she
explained, that duty on cigarettes was to high for her to pay. Could
she leave them here? The carte was hastily stamped as the officials
stuffed scarce cigarettes into their pockets. The word cigarettes attracted
their attention more than the name Feuchtwanger.
In the Spanish Port-Bou
the Feuchtwangers, Waitstill and Martha Sharp took a train to Barcelona.
Short of money for passage to Lisbon, the resourceful Waitstill Sharp
obtained a modest sum at the home of the American Consul in Barcelona-it
was Sunday-so that he could purchase a third class ticket for Marta
Feuchtwanger, and for Lion first class where police checked personal
papers in a casual manner, if at all. Lion, whom Dr. Sharp had given
a briefcase marked "Red Cross," had an alarming experience
on the train when he and a Nazi officer were about to enter a men's
room. They exchanged amenities about the Red Cross in
English, the officer speaking with a Prussian, Feuchtwanger with a Bavarian
accent. Feuchtwanger had observed years before that the Nazis could
take away his citizenship but not his Bavarian accent.
At the Portuguese
border, passengers had to leave the train. On the platform an American
journalist asked Marta if it were true that Lion Feuchtwanger was among
the passengers. As Marta Feuchtwanger inquired who Feuchtwanger might
be, an irritated Waitstill Sharp reprimanded the journalist: "Shut
up. Someone might lose his life."
In Lisbon the Feuchtwangers
and the Sharps checked in at the Hotel Metropole, where Dr. Charles
Joy of the Unitarian Service had an office. Joy urged Feuchtwanger to
leave Lisbon immediately; the Nazis were abducting refugees. Mrs. Sharp
gave up her berth; Feuchtwanger and Waitstill Sharp boarded the "Excalibur"
for New York. Marta Feuchtwanger obtained passage two weeks later.
Upon arrival in
New York October 5, 1940 Feuchtwanger was questioned by numerous reporters.
The New York Times printed an article October 6 quoting Feuchtwanger:
"Author, Here on Liner, Says It Is `Mathematically Certain' That
Germany Will Lose." An anonymous interpreter, cited in the FBI
file on Feuchtwanger, commented that the author seized every opportunity
to make "venomous attacks against the Nazis." Antifascism
was still premature in the fall of 1940.
In New York Feuchtwanger
was welcomed by fellow refugees from Europe, among them Lotte Lenya,
Maurice Maeterlinck, Somerset Maugham, Erich Maria Remarque, Otto Preminger,
Jules Romains, Kurt Weill, Franz Werfel and Alma Mahler Werfel.
Before leaving for
California in 1941 Feuchtwanger had completed the notable memoirs of
his experience in Les Milles, subjective by design, published as Unholdes
Frankreich (Ungracious France) by El Libro libre in Mexico 1941-later
Der Teufel in Frankreich. The Viking Press edition of The
Devil in France appeared in the fall of 1941. The French Devil was
to Feuchtwanger not the savage Satan of Nazi Germany; he was that which
the French term "Je m'en foutisme," i.e.
thoughtless, bureaucratism, conventionalism, do-nothingness.
Once settled in
Southern California Feuchtwanger helped Brecht escape from Europe in
1941 by placing at his disposal funds that he, Feuchtwanger, had in
Moscow. Brecht crossed the Soviet Union to Vladivostok and boarded a
boat to San Pedro, harbor of Los Angeles, where Marta Feuchtwanger met
him at the dock and found him a place to live.
When Brecht read
The Devil in France, he pronounced it to be Feuchtwanger's "schönstes
Buch." Brecht's enthusiasm led to their working together 1942-43
on Simone, a play with a Joan of Arc theme in occupied France.
They collaborated despite their dissimilar principles in creating plots
and characters. Brecht had no taste for Feuchtwanger's notions of empathy
and physical motivation, while alienation was literally alien to Feuchtwanger.
According to their common friend, the composer Hanns Eisler, Feuchtwanger
said to Brecht when the latter started, for the hundredth time, to explain
his doctrine: "You know what you can do with your epic theater."
(The German sentence is more gross than the English translation.) They
nevertheless worked together and completed Simone, for Brecht thought
of the older man as his mentor, as the only "Lehrmeister,"
that is teacher and guide, in his life. Simone ultimately consisted
of two versions. Feuchtwanger made it into a novel dealing principally
with the psychological problems of the teenager Simone; "special
interests" were incidental. Class interests are the thematic core
of Brecht's play The Visions of Simone Machard, which has the
by-line: "Written by Bertolt Brecht with the collaboration of Lion
From the middle
forties to the early fifties Feuchtwanger dealt with political themes
springing from the American and French Revolutions: Proud Destiny (Waffen
für Amerika), 1947, the novels on Goya in Spain, 1951 and Rousseau
in France, 1952.
commented on Proud Destiny, he stressed that Progress was the
hero, not any one person. The conception is not as unsophisticated as
it seems, for he knew very well that twentieth century thinkers have
been skeptical about the onward, forward development of mankind. Ours
is of course not the best of all possible worlds but, like Candide,
Feuchtwanger was convinced that capacity for Progress is inherent in
the sociopolitical structures we create. Worldwide human rights, freedom
and cosmopolitan brotherhood, only partially brought into existence
in the revolutions of the eighteenth century, would ultimately became
reality, he was convinced.
as Max Brod did in Heldentum, Christentum, Judentum, 1921, between noble,
unchangeable and ignoble, remediable misfortunes. Love unrequited, bereavement,
personal ambitions unrealized and longings unfulfilled are intrinsic
components of human destiny. Suffering from cold, hunger, inadequate
housing, illness untreated and victimization by group aggressiveness
are not, however, irrevocable parts of our fate.
The plot of Proud
Destiny deals on the surface with Benjamin Franklin's successful
efforts to gain French aid for the new United States of America. What
course the new independent nation would chart is a more consequential
question than the maneuvering of Franklin in Paris. Franklin pictured
America as a cosmopolitan force supporting the advance of human rights
everywhere; he envisioned an epoch when men and women could set foot
anywhere on the planet and be able to say: "This is my country."
To John Adams, Franklin was an unrealistic ideologue who did not sense
the trend of the times. Adams foresaw the expansion of an American Empire
whose citizens would confer their form of liberty and happiness on other
inhabitants of this globe.
published during the Cold War in 1947, evoked a notable response in
the Soviet journal Novy Mir, Moscow, June 1948. The author, R. Miller-Budinskaya,
maintained in her critique "Cosmopolites in `Literary Hollywood',"
that Feuchtwanger wrote his work in order to advance Anglo-American
global hegemony. What considerations spawned Ms. Miller-Budinskaya's
While the late forties
and early fifties were the era of McCarthyism in the United States,
Shdanovism ("Shdanovshtina") prevailed in the Soviet Union.
Andrej Shdanov, propaganda chief of the Central Committee, initiated
at the time a policy of rigid regimentation for writers and artists.
Cosmopolitans were prominent among the victims of Shdanov's witch-hunt.
In Western thinking,
cosmopolitanism signifies world wide concern about harmonious relations
and possible amalgamation among ethnic and national groups. To Shdanovites,
however, it was an imperialistic product of the capitalistic system.
In the Meyer encyclopedia, a standard work of the then German Democratic
Republic, it was unambiguously defined: "Cosmopolitanism is a reactionary
concept of the imperialistic bourgeoisie, whose aim is the establishment
of hegemony in the world by powerful capitalistic nations."
The Novy Mir
article was widely read in Eastern Germany. The communist writer Johannes
R. Becher, who had returned to Berlin from exile in Moscow to become
president of the Marxist Kulturbund (Federation of Culture) wrote Feuchtwanger
December 5, 1949: " Don't be concerned about charges that you are
a cosmopolitan. We all know that there's nothing of that sort in your
writing and thinking." Becher was right in the communist sense,
but Feuchtwanger had repeatedly characterized himself as cosmopolitan
(in the Western meaning of the concept) since the twenties. That may
have been the reason why Feuchtwanger's works were not published in
the Soviet Union from 1946 to 1955.
At the time of the
Cold War, even Western publishers, however, felt that the title of the
novel about America, Waffen für Amerika (literally Arms
for America) was unpropitious. Feuchtwanger changed it to Füchse
im Weinberg (Foxes in the Vineyard) based on the words in
the Song of Solomon 2:15: "Take us foxes, the little foxes, that
spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes."
The Rousseau novel
illuminates the far-famed, but misleadingly worded sentence in the Declaration
of Independence: "We hold these truths to be self-evident that
all me are created equal." It signified that a limited group of
free white men, British subjects in the Western hemisphere, were equal
to those residing in Great Britain. The Rousseau disciple Fernand learns
that equality was of restricted scope even to French liberals in the
wake of the French Revolution. When Fernand maintained that equal rights
be given not only to whites but also to blacks under French rule, the
affluent but liberal Monsieur Robinet declared that he and fellow open-minded
advocates of the Revolution would make concessions, giving franchise
to men of mixed race for example. It must be understood, however, that
"if you serve café au lait you must be prepared to serve
black as well." He, Robinet, was no more conservative that the
liberty lovers in Philadelphia but "like gentlemen in America,
he would be willing to give blacks certain rights but not until the
turn of the century, not until the following century. Haste makes waste."
When the National Assembly in Paris did pass a bill extending rights
to blacks, Fernand was informed that the law was meant to be a warning
to planters in the West Indies but that it was "purely academic";
it could not be enforced.
Goya was inspired
by the French Revolution-and McCarthyism. He started in the summer of
1948 after McCarthyist scrutiny, and interrogations, of suspected left-wingers,
including Feuchtwanger, had begun. The work on Goya portrays a turning
point in the development of Goya and marks a turning point in the transformation
of the author. As activist, both were sociopolitically late bloomers.
Until Goya reached
his fifties, he was a talented artist whose flattering portraits of
royalty and aristocracy were uncritically acclaimed. When Charles IV
of Spain appointed him court painter, Goya enjoyed the peak of recognition
while keeping in mind the motto of the peasants from whom he had sprung:
"Look, listen and keep your mouth shut."
With his "Caprichos"
and "Los Desastres de la Guerra," Goya changed from a self-seeking
artist savoring fame and pleasure to an impassioned painter committed
to help overcome the people's apathy to ignoble misfortune. A careerist
became an activist supporter of goals animating the revolutions of the
views as a creative write underwent a comparative mutation. Formerly
he had taken the position: "If you explain the world plausibly
enough, you change it quietly by the operation of reason. Only those
who can't explain it plausibly try to change it by force." He had
been a spectator-author who contemplated and delineated. At the end
of Proud Destiny he has Franklin admit, however, "that without
a modicum of violence it will not be possible to establish
freedom and better cosmopolitan order in the world."
The author addressed
the issues of racism, intolerance and (military) strife-mindedness in
Raquel, The Jewess of Toledo, 1955. The novel is a modern,
expanded adaptation of the parable of the three rings related in Boccaccio's
Decamerone and dramatized by Lessing in Nathan der Weise, 1779. In Raquel
the Jewish Yehuda, Muslim Musa and Christian Rodrigue concur that the
time of religious monopoly is over since each has validity. Musa formulates
religious self-assurance and respectful, active tolerance: "I am
a believer in three religions. Each of them contains good and each of
them teaches articles of faith that reason refuses to accept. So long
as I am convinced that my people's faith is not inferior to that of
any other people, I would consider my own action odious if I left the
community into which I was born."
respect is a sine qua non, but is there room for soldiering in multicultural,
cosmopolitan world? In the twelfth century Spain of Raquel, a pars pro
toto in time and space, military aggressiveness is chronic, the warrior
is revered, the odor of victory sweet, armor is shining. The jezer hara,
the evil urge, causes man to beat, hack, slay and be glorified as a
brave, fighting man. Raquel was attracted by the seductive aura of the
adventurous feudal world but sensed its martial
Men and women have
laughed at Don Quixote but have not been convinced that he is ridiculous;
they have not seen the lunatic lurking in "gallant" warriors.
"Theoreticians have chronically debated," Feuchtwanger reflected
about a systematic phenomenon in the epilogue to Raquel, "whether
it was permissible to forestall an enemy attack by attacking first."
Will the best conceivable
realization of sociopolitical goals central to the American and French
Revolutions bring about a cosmopolitan planetary society without soldiery?
Not without the employment of force! Feuchtwanger had Benjamin Franklin
declare: "... without a modicum of violence and injustice it will
never be possible to establish freedom and a tranquil order in the world."
Will there be an era in which we can set forth on any place on this
earth and say: "This is my country"? The Franklin-Feuchtwanger
statement will be right when the time is right. "Ça Ira."
That is: "We shall make it eventually." It is the title of
the last section in Proud Destiny.
It is not the best
of all possible worlds but Feuchtwanger built into the transposition
of Progress in his works the notion that the road to worldwide cosmopolitan
is infixed in humankind's development.
with Feuchtwanger and Ludwig Marcuse in the fifties we spoke, after
the European Economic Union was created in 1957, of a United Europe.
"The world will have to beware of European chauvinism," said
Marcuse. Feuchtwanger, who never raised his voice and always, so seemed
to me, smiled, remarked: "Europe is an intermediate stage."
of Feuchtwanger's novels, published by S. Fischer in Frankfurt, have
sold close to a million copies from the late seventies to the present
day. "In my thirty years of experience as an editor," wrote
Wolfgang Mertz of S. Fischer, " I have never seen a renaissance
comparable to that of Feuchtwanger."
The reader popularity
of an author who wrote historical novels, principally, can be explained
only tentatively. Having received a Ph.D. in literature at the University
of Munich in 1907 writing a dissertation on Heinrich Heine's Der Rabbi
von Bacharach, the trained scholar Feuchtwanger did meticulous research
for each of his novels but that alone could not account for the reader
interest. He does deal with questions that were timely in the past but
are timely in the present and will be so in the future: nationalism
and cosmopolitanism, Jewishness as potential catalysis for global security,
mutually respected religious and cultural diversity, quintessential
equality, art and political activism. The timeliness of chronically
worrisome questions explains a portion of widespread reader approval
when a good storyteller like Feuchtwanger deals with them. He makes
demands on the readers in the sense that passages must be read slowly,
or reread, by those that have limited historical knowledge, but interested
laymen are able, with most modest concentration, to comprehend what
Feuchtwanger offers them.
His name is as familiar
in contemporary Germany as the names of the most prominent Jewish thinkers
and creative minds that sprang from the German language area of Europe:
Mendelssohn, Heine, Marx, Freud, Einstein, Kafka and Schoenburg. Is
Feuchtwanger the last product of Jewish-German symbiosis?
donated the seventeen-room Villa Aurora and the library of 30,000 volumes
to the University of Southern California in 1959.
Memorial Library is located in USC's Doheny Memorial Library. The collection
contains approximately eight first thousand editions, from incunabula
to rare books in the twentieth century. The Villa Aurora was purchased
by the German organization "Friends and Supporters of the Villa
Aurora." Four "Artists in Residence" usually live at
the Villa, staying for three months each. Many of them work creatively
in Lion Feuchtwanger's study. The "Villa Aurora: Foundation for
European-American Relations" draws its funds from public and private
sources in Germany.
The legacy of the
German writer whose heart beat Jewish and whose mind was cosmopolitan
is nurtured at the Villa and the Feuchtwanger Memorial Library.
For more information
contact the Feuchtwanger Librarian.