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A Writer’s Reflections on the Destruction of the Books He Cherished

 

The Lost Library
The Autobiography of a Culture
Walter Mehring

$14.95 Paperback

  • 304 pages
  • 5.75 x 8.5
  • Memoir/World War II

About this Book

“It is with love and not a little bitterness that the author touches on the various tomes of his father’s library [and through them] on the history of man’s ideas, on the magnificence of our cultural progress,... and on the eventual destruction of the beauty and ideals that man had been able to create... Beautifully conceived and beautifully executed.”—The Atlantic

“Whoever cares for books will love this book about books.”—New York Times

“The Lost Library cannot be read without profit.”—Times Literary Supplement

 

Born in Berlin at the end of the nineteenth century, Walter Mehring inherited both his father’s respect for the civilizing power of literature and his formidable library of thousands of books. After having served in World War I, Mehring spent the years between the world wars as part of Europe’s avant-garde coffeehouse culture; he himself was a poet, cabaret lyricist, and founder of the Dadaist movement in Berlin. Mehring never envisioned that the culture of books celebrated in his father’s library would be rejected by the rise to prominence of the Nationalist Socialist Party. Soon, even his own books were burned and Mehring was forced to roam Europe as a literary fugitive. From a precarious exile in Vienna, he arranged for his father’s books to be smuggled out of Germany, but while Mehring managed to slip out of Austria and avoid capture, his library was confiscated and destroyed by the Nazis. In The Lost Library: The Autobiography of a Culture, Mehring takes the reader with him as he unpacks the crates of books in his mind, using his father’s library as a metaphor for how the optimism of nineteenth-century progress gave way to the book-burning of the twentieth.

WALTER MEHRING (1896–1981) was author of a number of books, including No Road Back, Merchant of Berlin, and Paris in Brand, as well as plays, poetry, and lyrics.

 

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