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Ellinor's Litventures

This blog is about my literary adventures in different genres. I like variety in my reading and will read books from most genres but particulary book with some literary merit.

A special history book - but not for everyone

1913 - Der Sommer des Jahrhunderts - Florian Illies

1913 is a history book unlike every other one I ever read. As the title says it is about the year 1913. There is a chapter for each month but the history is not told as one would except it, relating political events and stating how they lead to other events, in this the Great War. 1913 uses a different approach: It is more of a cultural history, but not in the ordinary sense. Different episodes from the lives of important artists, authors, editors etc. and sometimes also political characters are told. The author, Florian Illies, describes e.g. how Rilke is always suffering, Kafka is writing letters to Felice Bauer, Franz Marc is working on hie Blauer Reiter etc. These episodes are sometimes tragic but often also quite funny. They are very short, seldom longer than four pages, which makes the book a quick and entertaining read.
What I loved especially was Florian Illies' language: In a world in which not much value is set on stly anymore it is great to read a work which emphasizes style a lot, but at the same time doesn't seem anxious.
This book is clearly not for everyone. The reader needs a certain amount of education and especially a knowledge of German and Austrian artists, authors etc. to understand what the author is talking about. But if you have all that you will find this book a very enjoyable read.