Castle Gripsholm by Kurt Tucholsky / ISBN 9781681373348 / 144-page paperback from NYRB Classics / remainder dot but otherwise in excellent condition
"The first writers that come to mind when reading Tucholsky are Nabokov and Ford . . . [Tucholsky is] a master of the studied nonchalance of the tidily perverse." —The Times (London)
"One of the most brilliant writers of republican Germany . . . Tucholsky was known and feared for his sharp wit by all his enemies in Germany. More than anyone else, he foresaw what was coming there. What his readers enjoyed as capricious fantasies of a clever satirist [were] enacted in bitter reality." —The New York Times
A beguiling fable about a summer holiday in the Swedish countryside that transforms into a provocative parable about oppression and the evil awaiting Europe as the Nazis came to power.
Castle Gripsholm, the best and most beloved work by Kurt Tucholsky, is a short novel about an enchanted summer holiday. It begins with an assignment: Tucholsky’s publisher wants him to write something light and funny, otherwise about whatever Tucholsky wants. A deal is struck and the story is off: about Peter, a writer; his girlfriend, known as the Princess; and a summer vacation far from the hurly-burly of Berlin. Peter and the Princess have rented a small house attached to a historic castle in Sweden, and they have five weeks of long days and white nights at their disposal; five weeks for swimming and walking and sex and talking and visits with Peter’s buddy Karlchen and with Billie, the Princess’s best friend. It is perfect, until they meet a weeping girl fleeing the cruel headmistress of a home for children. The vacationers decide they must free the girl and send her back to her mother in Switzerland, which brings about an encounter with authority that casts a worrying shadow over their radiant summer idyll. Soon they must return to Germany. What kind of fairy tale are they living in?