“[S]urely the Cupid serving him was lefthanded, with a weak chin and no imagination.”
~Vladimir Nabokov, Laughter in the Dark
“‘Once upon a time there lived in Berlin, Germany, a man called Albinus. He was rich, respectable, happy; one day he abandoned his wife for the sake of a youthful mistress; he loved; was not loved; and his life ended in disaster.’ Thus begins Vladimir Nabokov’s Laughter in the Dark; this, the author tells us, is the whole story except that he starts from here, with his characteristic dazzling skill and irony, and brilliantly turns a fable into a chilling, original novel of folly and destruction.
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“I’m waiting for the victory of decency, then I could make myself available.”
~Erich Kästner, Going to the Dogs. The Story of a Moralist (Informally translated)
“Originally published in German in 1931 and in an expurgated English translation in 1932, this novel is the tale of Jacob Fabian, a Berlin advertising copywriter doomed in the context of economic, ethical, and political collapse by his characteristic mixture of detachment and decency.
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“I have seen apes only at the fair, they must perform tricks, are chained up, a bitter fate, no human has one so hard.”
~Alfred Döblin, Berlin Alexanderplatz
The novel concerns the story of Franz Biberkopf, an ex-convict, who balances between his past in the underworld and his wish to become decent in the 1920’s Berlin. Döblin uses montage techniques to enhance the effect of the pulsing metropolis by making use of newspaper articles, songs, speeches, and other books.
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