Frederic Raphael

Mann’s Inhumanity to Mann

House of Exile: War, Love and Literature, from Berlin to Los Angeles

By

Allen Lane/The Penguin Press 383pp £25 order from our bookshop

In European myth, at least until 1948, exile was the defining condition of the Jews. Their wandering habits were dignified by Walter Benjamin as Irrkunst (the art of getting lost). In the library, among a plethora of texts, he was an adept; in life he was artless. Cornered, in 1940, in Portbou on the Franco-Spanish border, with the Gestapo on his tail, he committed suicide, after sharing his stock of morphine tablets with Arthur Koestler, who lived another forty-three years before euthanising himself in London.

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