(Hampton's article appeared in the Evening Standard, 8/26/09.)


Christopher Hampton translates the big questions


The critic Jean-Claude François memorably described Ödön von Horváth as “the black book of the Third Reich”: by which he meant that no other writer documented more circumstantially than Horváth the day-to-day experience of life in Nazi Germany in the years leading up to the Second World War. Bertolt Brecht, for example, sitting in exile in Scandinavia, wrote of Fear and Misery in the Third Reich, a title which could have covered any amount of émigré writing; for those in self-imposed exile, what seemed salient were the crimes and atrocities of the Nazi régime. But for those, like Horváth, who remained, what seemed striking was how little the texture of everyday life had changed, despite the manifest insanity of the truculently self-righteous morons so wilfully handed power by the German electorate in 1933.


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