Grand Hotel (New York Review Books Classics)
A grand hotel in the center of 1920s Berlin serves as a microcosm of the modern world in Vicki Baum’s celebrated novel, a Weimar-era best seller that retains all its verve and luster today. Among the guests of the hotel is Doctor Otternschlag, a World War I veteran whose face has been sliced in... show more
A grand hotel in the center of 1920s Berlin serves as a microcosm of the modern world in Vicki Baum’s celebrated novel, a Weimar-era best seller that retains all its verve and luster today. Among the guests of the hotel is Doctor Otternschlag, a World War I veteran whose face has been sliced in half by a shell. Day after day he emerges to read the paper in the lobby, discreetly inquiring at the desk if the letter he’s been awaiting for years has arrived. Then there is Grusinskaya, a great ballerina now fighting a losing battle not so much against age as against her fear of it, who may or may not be made for Gaigern, a sleek professional thief. Herr Preysing also checks in, the director of a family firm that isn’t as flourishing as it appears, who would never imagine that Kringelein, his underling, a timorous petty clerk he’s bullied for years, has also come to Berlin, determined to live at last now that he’s received a medical death sentence. All these characters and more, with all their secrets and aspirations, come together and come alive in the pages of Baum’s delicious and disturbing masterpiece.
Publish date: 2016-06-07
Publisher: NYRB Classics
Pages no: 304
Edition language: English
June 2016 NYRB Book Club Selection.Baum's book is a slow start. It took me awhile to get into it. But then when you get to the ballerina and the thief, it is so beautiful. What is amazing, in some aspects, is how little things have changed.
Last semester, when I worked with a World War II history class, I quickly learned how little the students knew about the interwar period in Germany. As far as they knew, it was World War I, Treaty of Versailles, Hitler, World War II. A few knew about the Weimar period, but no one had a really good i...