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Journey Through America
Translated and with an Introduction by Michael Kimmage
172 pages, bibliog., index
ISBN 978-0-85745-231-3 $135.00/£99.00 / Hb / Published (August 2012)
eISBN 978-0-85745-437-9 eBook
“[In] excellent translation of Koeppen's Amerikafahrt… [the author] traces his travels across the US as he reflects on the state of American culture and its meaning for the future of the Western world…Everywhere he sees technical and material progress but wonders if that will be used for public enlightenment or centralized money-driven consumerism. Seeing the Statue of Liberty, he wonders which symbol predominates, her torch or her unseeing eyes. Given the polarity of contemporary America, Koeppen's interrogation of life in the US resonates today as well as it did when first published…Highly recommended.” · Choice
“To an American, reading it is like being plunged into a fever dream, in which recognizable places and people are distorted into demons—and also, sometimes, into angels. For the fascination of Koeppen’s book is that these two visions of America, as a peaceable, multicultural Heaven and an acquisitive, conformist Hell, never quite manage to cancel one another out.” · Adam Kirsch in The New Republic
Amerikafahrt by Wolfgang Koeppen is a masterpiece of observation, analysis, and writing, based on his 1958 trip to the United States. A major twentieth-century German writer, Koeppen presents a vivid and fascinating portrait of the US in the late 1950s: its major cities, its literary culture, its troubled race relations, its multi-culturalism and its vast loneliness, a motif drawn, in part, from Kafka’s Amerika. A modernist travelogue, the text employs symbol, myth, and image, as if Koeppen sought to answer de Tocqueville’s questions in the manner of Joyce and Kafka. Journey through America is also a meditation on America, intended for a German audience and mindful of the destiny of postwar Europe under many Americanizing influences.
Wolfgang Koeppen (1906-1996) is one of the best known German authors of the postwar period. His most acclaimed novels are Pigeons on the Grass (1951), The Hothouse (1953), and Death in Rome (1954).
Michael Kimmage is an Associate Professor of History at the Catholic University of America. He is the author of two books: The Conservative Turn: Lionel Trilling, Whittaker Chambers and the Lessons of Anti-Communism (Harvard University Press, 2009) and In History’s Grip: Philip Roth’s Newark Trilogy (Stanford University Press, 2012).
Renowned author Pankaj Mishra has named Journey Through America as one of his favourite books of the year in an article in The Guardian.
Subject: Literary Studies History: 20th Century to Present
Area: North America
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