Category Archives: Germany

Burgess and other European writers

Of German literature in particular, Burgess thought the best novel was Doktor Faustus.

The composer-hero has genius and syphilis. So, thought Mann, had Germany.

Howarth, the leading protagonist in Burgess’s 1960 novel The Worm and the Ring (his version of the ring cycle) is a teacher of German at an English secondary school.

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‘There was no answer to the world’s problems in communism,’ writes Burgess.

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Toomey in Berlin

Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 07.18.17Extract from Burgess’s 1980 novel Earthly Powers.

Kenneth Toomey attends a reception at the Reichsministerium für Volksaufklärung und Propaganda. On offer are food and drink and some words from Reichsminister Dr Goebbels, which prove emetic. Toomey consumes, and later discharges, about a litre of Sekt.

East Berlin

Screen Shot 2015-09-24 at 19.37.42‘If ever I wavered in my acceptance of Western capitalism, I had only to return to that grimness unenlivened by the gaudy posters of commercialism to wish to scuttle back to nudes and Mammon….The East Berliners were in their wretched element, having passed immediately from one totalitarian regime to another. The damnable hypocrisy of the half-town, pretending that the West was the true prison and the gunmen were protecting the freedom of the citizen, stood for a metaphysic based on lies, the biggest lie of all being the perversion of the term demokratisch….It was a relief to get to the Zoo station and all the howling injunctions to consume.’

‘I crossed over on a summer Saturday. I was with a girl from Hamburg….I took the S-Bahn with her to Friedrichstraße where foreigners had to wait long and unsmoking, prodded by beardless boys in uniform….Under the roof of the Friedrichstraße S-Bahn platform two boys with submachine-guns paced, their eyes on potential refugees from communist prosperity.’