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Weimar on the Pacific: German Exile Culture in Los Angeles and the Crisis of Modernism

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In the 1930s and 40s, Los Angeles became an unlikely cultural sanctuary for a distinguished group of German artists and intellectuals—including Thomas Mann, Theodore W. Adorno, Bertolt Brecht, Fritz Lang, and Arnold Schoenberg—who had fled Nazi Germany. During their years in exile, they would produce a substantial body of major works to address the crisis of modernism that In the 1930s and 40s, Los Angeles became an unlikely cultural sanctuary for a distinguished group of German artists and intellectuals—including Thomas Mann, Theodore W. Adorno, Bertolt Brecht, Fritz Lang, and Arnold Schoenberg—who had fled Nazi Germany. During their years in exile, they would produce a substantial body of major works to address the crisis of modernism that resulted from the rise of National Socialism. Weimar Germany and its culture, with its meld of eighteenth-century German classicism and twentieth-century modernism, served as a touchstone for this group of diverse talents and opinions. Weimar on the Pacific is the first book to examine these artists and intellectuals as a group. Ehrhard Bahr studies selected works of Adorno, Horkheimer, Brecht, Lang, Neutra, Schindler, Döblin, Mann, and Schoenberg, weighing Los Angeles’s influence on them and their impact on German modernism. Touching on such examples as film noir and Thomas Mann’s Doctor Faustus, Bahr shows how this community of exiles reconstituted modernism in the face of the traumatic political and historical changes they were living through.


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In the 1930s and 40s, Los Angeles became an unlikely cultural sanctuary for a distinguished group of German artists and intellectuals—including Thomas Mann, Theodore W. Adorno, Bertolt Brecht, Fritz Lang, and Arnold Schoenberg—who had fled Nazi Germany. During their years in exile, they would produce a substantial body of major works to address the crisis of modernism that In the 1930s and 40s, Los Angeles became an unlikely cultural sanctuary for a distinguished group of German artists and intellectuals—including Thomas Mann, Theodore W. Adorno, Bertolt Brecht, Fritz Lang, and Arnold Schoenberg—who had fled Nazi Germany. During their years in exile, they would produce a substantial body of major works to address the crisis of modernism that resulted from the rise of National Socialism. Weimar Germany and its culture, with its meld of eighteenth-century German classicism and twentieth-century modernism, served as a touchstone for this group of diverse talents and opinions. Weimar on the Pacific is the first book to examine these artists and intellectuals as a group. Ehrhard Bahr studies selected works of Adorno, Horkheimer, Brecht, Lang, Neutra, Schindler, Döblin, Mann, and Schoenberg, weighing Los Angeles’s influence on them and their impact on German modernism. Touching on such examples as film noir and Thomas Mann’s Doctor Faustus, Bahr shows how this community of exiles reconstituted modernism in the face of the traumatic political and historical changes they were living through.

45 review for Weimar on the Pacific: German Exile Culture in Los Angeles and the Crisis of Modernism

  1. 4 out of 5

    Bill Wallace

    I was hoping for a social history but this is a collection of critical essays focused on the work of German modernist exiles, not a bad thing but not exactly what I was looking for. A pity, because the text here that links the chapters into the larger thesis -- that Los Angeles fundamentally changed the critical work of Adorno and Horkheimer and the novels of Mann, Werfel, and Döblin, the music of Schoenberg, and the work of other expatriates -- is a decent and lively social history, only too br I was hoping for a social history but this is a collection of critical essays focused on the work of German modernist exiles, not a bad thing but not exactly what I was looking for. A pity, because the text here that links the chapters into the larger thesis -- that Los Angeles fundamentally changed the critical work of Adorno and Horkheimer and the novels of Mann, Werfel, and Döblin, the music of Schoenberg, and the work of other expatriates -- is a decent and lively social history, only too brief. The individual essays seemed to me to be excellent in some cases (the chapter on Mann's Faustus), abstruse but interesting in others (Adorno), and unsatisfyingly thin in others (the chapter on architects Neutra and Schindler). On the whole, I'm glad I read the book but there is, I think, a better volume waiting to be written.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Iben

    I wish this book had included more history rather than so much literary critique and summary. The chapter on Bertolt Brecht was by far the most interesting.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Chris

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    Irena

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    Megan

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    Nicholas Pavkovic

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    David Headland

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    Kristina Trimmer

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  45. 4 out of 5

    Maura

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