Berlin Cabaret (Studies in Cultural History)

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9780674067622: Berlin Cabaret (Studies in Cultural History)
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Peter Jelavich spotlights Berlin's cabarets from the day the curtain first went up, in 1901, until the Nazi regime brought it down. Fads and fashions, sexual mores, and political ideologies - all were subject to satire and parody on the cabaret stage. This book follows the changing treatment of these themes, and the fate of cabaret itself, through the most turbulent decades of German history: the prosperous and optimistic Imperial age, the unstabe yet culturally inventive Weimar era, and the repressive years of National Socialism.

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Review:

ÝA¨ well-written and clearly organized book that displays all the hallmarks of a comprehensive standard work and reference source, rich in information that entices further investigation. -- Frederick A. Lubich "Germanic Review"

The definitive account of the German capital's club and revue circuit from its origins around 1900 to its terrible coda in the transit camps, where performers would play for chuckling SS commandants before they were sent to their deaths.

ÝA¨ wonderful book...Berlin cabaret...was embedded in Berlin intellectual life. Jelavich's documentation of these relationships offers a great gift to historians of German culture--indeed to all historians of modern Germany. -- Barbara Miller Lane "Central European History"

Like the eloquent confé renciers who comment on the cabaret acts that are his subject here, Jelavich expertly takes readers in hand, introduces them to the exuberant affairs of Berlin, and does so in a witty and insightful fashion...A great achievement. -- Peter Fritzsche "American Historical Review"

Like the eloquent conf& eacute; renciers who comment on the cabaret acts that are his subject here, Jelavich expertly takes readers in hand, introduces them to the exuberant affairs of Berlin, and does so in a witty and insightful fashion...A great achievement.

The reader is transported clearly and smoothly on a fascinating journey through the history of an urban art form that was strongly stimulated by some of the same forces that gave rise to the [Berlin-focused] publications...Covering a period of almost half a century, from the founding of Ernst von Wolzogen's Motley Theater in 1901 through performances by inmates of concentration camps during the Second World War, Jelavich makes an especially valuable contribution to the analysis of culture in an urban context.--Andrew Lees "Culture in Modern Germany "

[A] well-written and clearly organized book that displays all the hallmarks of a comprehensive standard work and reference source, rich in information that entices further investigation.--Frederick A. Lubich "Germanic Review "

Jelavich makes an important contribution to the study of cultural history.--James L. Zychowicz "Monatshefte "

[A] wonderful book...Berlin cabaret...was embedded in Berlin intellectual life. Jelavich's documentation of these relationships offers a great gift to historians of German culture--indeed to all historians of modern Germany.--Barbara Miller Lane "Central European History "

In this well-written book, Peter Jelavich has tracked down cabaret openings, closings, and programs, and discusses politics and personalities. His writing makes the history of Berlin cabarets come alive in a very special way. I found myself increasingly fascinated with the 'showtime' experiences, both on-stage and back-stage.--Richard Hunt, Harvard University

From the Back Cover:

Step into Ernst Wolzogen's Motley Theater, Max Reinhardt's Sound and Smoke, Rudolf Nelson's Chat noir, and Friedrich Hollaender's Tingel-Tangel. Enjoy Claire Waldoff's rendering of a lower-class Berliner, Kurt Tucholsky's satirical songs, and Walter Mehring's Dadaist experiments, as Peter Jelavich spotlights Berlin's cabarets from the day the curtain first went up, in 1901, until the Nazi regime brought it down. Fads and fashions, sexual mores and political ideologies - all were subject to satire and parody on the cabaret stage. This book follows the changing treatment of these themes, and the fate of cabaret itself, through the most turbulent decades of modern German history: the prosperous and optimistic Imperial age, the unstable yet culturally inventive Weimar era, and the repressive years of National Socialism. By situating cabaret within Berlin's rich landscape of popular culture and distinguishing it from vaudeville and variety theaters, spectacular revues, prurient "nude dancing", and Communist agitprop, Jelavich revises the prevailing image of this form of entertainment. Neither highly politicized, like postwar German Kabarett, nor sleazy in the way that some American and European films suggest, Berlin cabaret occupied a middle ground that let it cast an ironic eye on the goings-on of Berliners and other Germans. However, it was just this satirical attitude toward serious themes, such as politics and racism, that blinded cabaret to the strength of the radical right-wing forces that ultimately destroyed it. Jelavich concludes with the Berlin cabaret artists' final performances - as prisoners in the concentration camps at Westerbork and Theresienstadt. This book gives us a senseof what the world looked like within the cabarets of Berlin and at the same time lets us see, from a historical distance, these lost performers enacting the political, sexual, and artistic issues that made their city one of the most dynamic in Europe.

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