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This review is taken from PN Review 83, Volume 18 Number 3, January - February 1992.

UNANSWERED QUESTIONS Raymond Furness and Malcolm Humble A Companion to Twentieth Century German Literature. (Routledge) £35.00

As a reference book, with more than four hundred alphabetically listed entries on German-language authors of this century, the new Companion offers information not to be found within the covers of any earlier single publication in English. Yet the very jacket prompts the question, to whom? This jacket carries a still from the film version of Heinrich Böll's novel Die Verlorene Ehre der Katharina Blum, whose engaging heroine points a revolver - in this case, at the potential buyer of the book. If this buyer, though, is assumed to be of that vanishing species, the common or general reader of 'serious' books, it has to be pointed out at once that all the thousands of works mentioned in the entries are given only their German titles, and that there is no bibliography of those English translations on which most of those residual non-specialist readers must now depend. The price of £35 will be another deterrent to all but a tiny minority of such readers.

The misssing bibliography of translations would have been of great interest even to more specialized readers, as an indication of the extent to which all this German literature has impinged on the awareness of less specialized ones in the English-speaking world, over the near-century covered by the Companion's range; and it is the range of this book - from the Second Reich through the Weimar Republic, the Third Reich and its diaspora to the two post-war Republics and the present reunified Germany, as ...


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