“The most gifted writer of the younger generation.”—Stefan Zweig
“The most gifted of the young dramatists, and above and beyond the brightest mind….”—Carl Zuckmayer
“Horváth had turned his back on the mournful realism of the émigrés, with their passion for easy caricature and their desire for revenge. He had realized with extraordinary acuteness that to meet the horror of reality with a horror literature was no longer possible or useful; that the reality of Fascism was in fact so overwhelming and catastrophic that no realism, particularly the agonized naturalism of the twentieth century, could do it justice."—Alfred Kazin
This never-before translated work by a major yet overlooked mid-20th century writer is a brutally funny look at the human comedy on the eve of Europe’s decent into Fascism.
It tells the tale of a failed used car salesman who wants to live the high life, and so decides to travel by train from Munich to Barcelona to attend the World’s Fair—in hopes of meeting a beautiful, rich woman who will provide for his every whim.
It’s a highly-stylized and, at times, raucously funny tale of the almost-absurd: a dark and satiric look at Europeans, and especially Germans, on the brink of cataclysm. Adrift in their acquisitive desires, they are vulnerable to the propaganda of the State—making this novel brilliantly foresightful in its understanding of politics and human nature at a crucial point in modern history.
Ödön von Horváth’s scathing insight, in fact, led to his having to flee the very society he depicted when, living in Berlin, he drew the wrath of the Nazis. And yet this hilarious tour-de-force—written just after his escape, and just before his death in a tragic accident—eschews bitterness for rambunctious perseverance and compassion, and provides ample evidence of why von Horváth deserves renewed appreciation.
Paperback 192 pages Melville House, 2012 Originally published in 1930 5 x 0.4 x 8 inches ISBN 9781935554479 Satire