Kind aller Länder review ¸ 103


Kind aller Länder

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Some of the great themes of 1930s Europe are refracted through the eyes of a child who is both naive and wise beyond her years Irrepressible Kully her charming feckless father and her nervy fragile mother are brought to life through Irmgard Keun's fastpaced pro Down on the streeta man was whistling a tuneMy mother trembled'Did you hear thatDid you hear that whistlingThat was the Horst Wessel Song that someone was whistling here in the street here in Amsterdam I don't know the song she meansbut i wonder why it would make my mother so frightened and sad This is a child's eye view of Europe on the brink of World War II Compelling and poignant In 193334 all of Irmgard Keun's books were confiscated and forbidden by the NazisChild of all Nations was written in 1938 in exile

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Kully knows some things you don't learn at school from the right way to roll a cigarette to how to pack a suitcase She knows that you can't enter a country without a passport or visa and that she and her parents can't go back to Germany again her father's books When one commences reading Irmgard Keun's Kind aller Länder Child of All Nations in English translations one is struck almost immediately with and by the exuisite and evocative narrative voice of ten year old Kully In many ways delightful and always simplistically approachable Kully tells her story of basically being a child of all nations and thus never really at home anywhere with both natural and childlike innocence and with an astute power of observation that is not only interesting and educational but also often rather frightening and disconcertingly powerful and astounding for one so young but for all that author Armgard Keun also and thankfully never does slip into the danger of having Kully appear as an artificial child read as an adult masuerading as a child as no matter what Kully describes no matter what she observes and presents to us as readers she is always remains a ten year old with the attitudes and desires of a childNow considering the main thematics of Kind alter Länder Kully's innocent narration does on the one hand somewhat mitigate the seriousness of the presented topics namely the daily life but mostly the often constant and serious financial struggles of a German artistintellectual and his family in exile from the Nazis during the pre war period of the Third Reich as Kully' father is a writer with strong political philosophies who has decided that it would be prudent to leave Germany after the National Socialists burned his books and imprisoned some of his friends On the other hand however Kully's unadorned and straight forward simple observational skills also and often point out with incredible and simple clarity that especially with regard to her family while the main or rather the underlying causes for the exile and resulting woes and problems are indeed the National Socialists' rise to power in Germany there is also much over which to be both massively annoyed frustrated and indeed infuriated with regard to especially and particularly the father's general carelessness and lack of even the most basic sense of responsibility For as much as Kind aller Länder is truly intriguing informative and historically relevant and as much as Kully's personality and observational acumen does brightly shine I for one also tend to find this novel rather somewhat if not actually even majorly depressing and saddening and the casual often entitled selfishness of especially the father and the generally and for all intents and purposes annoyingly absolutely submissive character of the mother to said selfishness and indifference at times nigh impossible to stomach and really in at least some ways almost as infuriating and as anger producing as the fact that Kully and her family have been forced into exile by the Nazis that they have been basically almost mandated forced into a bohemian life of uncertainty simply because her father's writing has made him has made the family by extension enemies of the state at least according to the National Socialists and their acolytes and supportersAnd that Kully's father actually and indeed even generally seems to act immature and childish than his ten year old daughter but that he also hypocritically and strangely often rather harshly disciplines Kullly when she acts her age when she acts as a child would or at least likely could act that he regularly and with scant regret abandons his wife and daughter at the hotels where they had been staying whenever money becomes tight having them face the wrath of the hotel management when payments cannot or can no longer be made that the father also and often is generous towards his many friends than to his nearest and dearest all this and leave a rather bitter taste in my mouth and certainly make me much less sympathetic towards especially the father as a person and while I do much and certainly understand and appreciate the specific political and social reasons why Kully's family has had to leave Germany why the family is in exile from the Nazis much of the father's behaviour and his general careless and selfish attitudes towards life and towards his family do leave rather much to be desired at least for me personally And although one can definitely see that Kully intensely loves her parents both her mother and yes also her father and would than likely have been devastated had they followed her grandmother's advice and left Kully in her care when the father decided to leave Germany to escape from the Nazis' reach in some ways when one considers the father's general rather laissez faire attitudes and careless lack of foresight the grandmother actually had legitimate reasons for wanting her granddaughter for desiring Kully to remain with her and in her care although considering what the Nazis are like the Gestapo might well have decided to get hold of to arrest Kully and her grandmother if they wanted her father and could no longer nab him because he had left GermanyNow all the above having been said I actually do very much appreciate how Irmgard Keun has both structured and conceptualised Kind aller Länder The basic and root causes of Kully's and her family's exile the reasons why they have had to leave Germany are clearly realistically delineated and presented and are definitely portrayed as being first and foremost due to National Socialism and the fact that many many artists intellectuals etc along with their families were suddenly and in some cases almost overnight so to speak no longer personae gratae in Germany But nevertheless the author also and much appreciatively never loses sight of the salient and somewhat uncomfortable truth that while Kully's father while Kully's family are indeed to be regarded as victims of the Nazis Kully and her mother are also and indeed victims of the father's general and all encompassing casual and careless selfishness and immaturity his general lack of will and that he is seemingly both unwilling and unable to provide even a modicum of an ordered and acceptable existence for his wife and daughter and not really all that interested either Highly recommended and even with my four star rating a well deserved spot on my favourites shelf and a novel that I actually am already planning to reread sometime very soon however basic fluency in German is strongly suggested and while Kind aller Länder has been translated into English I have to date only read the German original and thus cannot and will not provide any comments on the possible ualities of the English translations that are currently available Face Of The Waters right way to العجوز التي حطمت القواعد roll a cigarette to how to pack a suitcase She knows that you can't enter a country without a passport or visa and that she and her parents can't go back to Germany again her father's books When one commences Ideology and Power in the Viking and Middle Ages reading Irmgard Keun's Kind aller Länder Child of All Nations in English translations one is struck almost immediately with and by the exuisite and evocative narrative voice of ten year old Kully In many ways delightful and always simplistically approachable Kully tells her story of basically being a child of all nations and thus never Thirty-Two Going On Spinster (Spinster Series Book 1) really at home anywhere with both natural and childlike innocence and with an astute power of observation that is not only interesting and educational but also often Brasso, Blanco and Bull rather frightening and disconcertingly powerful and astounding for one so young but for all that author Armgard Keun also and thankfully never does slip into the danger of having Kully appear as an artificial child Virtual Encounters read as an adult masuerading as a child as no matter what Kully describes no matter what she observes and presents to us as James, Ellen & David readers she is always 花君と恋する私 1 [Hana-kun to Koisuru Watashi 1] remains a ten year old with the attitudes and desires of a childNow considering the main thematics of Kind alter Länder Kully's innocent narration does on the one hand somewhat mitigate the seriousness of the presented topics namely the daily life but mostly the often constant and serious financial struggles of a German artistintellectual and his family in exile from the Nazis during the pre war period of the Third Reich as Kully' father is a writer with strong political philosophies who has decided that it would be prudent to leave Germany after the National Socialists burned his books and imprisoned some of his friends On the other hand however Kully's unadorned and straight forward simple observational skills also and often point out with incredible and simple clarity that especially with Wild Blue regard to her family while the main or The Argentina Reader: History, Culture, Politics rather the underlying causes for the exile and Novel Superfluids resulting woes and problems are indeed the National Socialists' Cavern and Cave Diver Workbook rise to power in Germany there is also much over which to be both massively annoyed frustrated and indeed infuriated with Veranda Entertaining regard to especially and particularly the father's general carelessness and lack of even the most basic sense of Hiljaisuuden mestari responsibility For as much as Kind aller Länder is truly intriguing informative and historically Humanoides numero 30: Alef Thau: el señor de las ilusiones relevant and as much as Kully's personality and observational acumen does brightly shine I for one also tend to find this novel Viipurista Vatikaaniin rather somewhat if not actually even majorly depressing and saddening and the casual often entitled selfishness of especially the father and the generally and for all intents and purposes annoyingly absolutely submissive character of the mother to said selfishness and indifference at times nigh impossible to stomach and Ethans Girl (The Havenmoor Convergence, really in at least some ways almost as infuriating and as anger producing as the fact that Kully and her family have been forced into exile by the Nazis that they have been basically almost mandated forced into a bohemian life of uncertainty simply because her father's writing has made him has made the family by extension enemies of the state at least according to the National Socialists and their acolytes and supportersAnd that Kully's father actually and indeed even generally seems to act immature and childish than his ten year old daughter but that he also hypocritically and strangely often The Superego rather harshly disciplines Kullly when she acts her age when she acts as a child would or at least likely could act that he Dawn of the Wolf regularly and with scant Birdmen 1 regret abandons his wife and daughter at the hotels where they had been staying whenever money becomes tight having them face the wrath of the hotel management when payments cannot or can no longer be made that the father also and often is generous towards his many friends than to his nearest and dearest all this and leave a In Wahrheit wird viel mehr gelogen rather bitter taste in my mouth and certainly make me much less sympathetic towards especially the father as a person and while I do much and certainly understand and appreciate the specific political and social Going Down in La-La Land reasons why Kully's family has had to leave Germany why the family is in exile from the Nazis much of the father's behaviour and his general careless and selfish attitudes towards life and towards his family do leave The Tempest: FREE Hamlet Prince Of Denmark By William Shakespeare, Illustrated [Quora Media] (100 Greatest Novels of All Time Book 33) rather much to be desired at least for me personally And although one can definitely see that Kully intensely loves her parents both her mother and yes also her father and would than likely have been devastated had they followed her grandmother's advice and left Kully in her care when the father decided to leave Germany to escape from the Nazis' School Smarts Projects reach in some ways when one considers the father's general Finding Faith rather laissez faire attitudes and careless lack of foresight the grandmother actually had legitimate Creating Chance (The Jack Tyler Series Vol. 3) reasons for wanting her granddaughter for desiring Kully to La Balsa; remain with her and in her care although considering what the Nazis are like the Gestapo might well have decided to get hold of to arrest Kully and her grandmother if they wanted her father and could no longer nab him because he had left GermanyNow all the above having been said I actually do very much appreciate how Irmgard Keun has both structured and conceptualised Kind aller Länder The basic and River of Fire root causes of Kully's and her family's exile the Quand j'étais Superman reasons why they have had to leave Germany are clearly Millennial Fandom realistically delineated and presented and are definitely portrayed as being first and foremost due to National Socialism and the fact that many many artists intellectuals etc along with their families were suddenly and in some cases almost overnight so to speak no longer personae gratae in Germany But nevertheless the author also and much appreciatively never loses sight of the salient and somewhat uncomfortable truth that while Kully's father while Kully's family are indeed to be Stimmen der Nacht regarded as victims of the Nazis Kully and her mother are also and indeed victims of the father's general and all encompassing casual and careless selfishness and immaturity his general lack of will and that he is seemingly both unwilling and unable to provide even a modicum of an ordered and acceptable existence for his wife and daughter and not Friedrich Schiller Maria Stuart really all that interested either Highly The Mischievous Mrs. Maxfield recommended and even with my four star Brandons Notebook rating a well deserved spot on my favourites shelf and a novel that I actually am already planning to Abdul Haris Nasution reread sometime very soon however basic fluency in German is strongly suggested and while Kind aller Länder has been translated into English I have to date only Whisper to Me read the German original and thus cannot and will not provide any comments on the possible ualities of the English translations that are currently available

Irmgard Keun Ï 3 read

Are banned there Her mother would just like to settle down but as her restless father struggles to find a new publisher the three must escape from country to country as their visas expire money runs out and hotel bills mount upIn this utterly enchanting novel Published in the mid 1930s Irmgard Keun’s book charts the precarious existence of German political refugees through the eyes of nine year old Kully Kully father Peter and mother Annie are adrift in Europe the outcome of Peter’s vociferous criticism of the Nazi regime Annie’s a shadowy figure Peter dominates the family’s mood and prospects even though he’s absent for much of the action Kully’s commentary suggests her father’s a man of contradictions charming but brooding a heavy drinker continually hustling to pay their way but spendthrift when he’s in pocket Kully describes day after day of waiting for her father keeping up appearances in a series of lavish hotel rooms running up bills they can’t pay while he pursues his latest money making scheme On one level Kully’s a typical child narrator naïve acutely aware of her surroundings and the behaviour of adults but she’s eually tough and oddly world weary Her vivid imagination projects a stream of striking images a traffic policeman’s a lion in disguise Peter’s destination’s a fairy tale castle But her observations also reveal an unsettling fascination with death an underlying sense of the macabre which finally erupts when Peter returns “Sometimes there’s a bang on the street but I can’t tell if it was a gunshot or an exploding tyre because I’ve never heard a gunshot My father has a revolver he can shoot with If we’re ever really stuck he’ll shoot us with it Then at least nothing can happen to us Probably you smell bad when you’re dead just like my dead sea creatures did but that doesn’t matter because we won’t be able to smell ourselves” Peter’s reappearance marks a shift in the pace of Keun’s narrative moving from stifling and near static a convincing portrayal of the refugees’ isolation anxiety and boredom to something frenetic bordering on frenzied There are repeated reports of friends’ suicides Hitler’s “horrible yelling” on the radio and an overwhelming feeling of desperation Lack of money sealing off the family’s escape routesKeun’s depiction of rootless exiles builds on personal experience after her own writing was banned and she fled Germany There’s speculation that Peter’s a version of her lover fellow author Joseph Roth If that’s the case then it’s a far from flattering portrait although it allows for an additional exploration of issues of gender and power or powerlessness Abandoning a conventional autobiographical approach in favour of Kully’s voice delivered in light deft prose works brilliantly to portray this particular historical moment removing the need for extensive political or historical exposition so that Keun can focus on a direct response which captures both the irony and the absurdity of the time


10 thoughts on “Kind aller Länder

  1. says:

    Children speak truth to power and power remains deaf Power to a child can be anything from an irresponsible parent to an oppressive state Powerlessness is expressed by various things The lack of money to pay for dinner or the lack of citizenship to be welcome in a country The closed borders between a child in winter and the child's winter coat at a pawnbroker's in Salzburg The difficulties of marriage as seen through the lens of the child depending on both parents to survive in globetrotting exile The ever changing scenes of life after normalcy was suspended for the family when the happy go unlucky father had to leave Nazi Germany for speaking and thinking and writing against agendaNot every life in exile is heroic though Some people are good for nothings even though they are on the right side and Kully's father is one of them Charming and careless he imposes an impossible life style on his wife and daughter moving from one country to the next from hotel to hotel where bills can't be paid and life has no tomorrow From the standpoint of Kully everything she sees and hears is eually strange and she can comment freely on things grownups don't even dare to whisper aboutThe inner child inside Irmgard Keun felt a special affinity to the naive voices of children experiencing the impossible and she delivers a verdict on the world that remains uite true Children shake their heads at the foolishness and childishness of adult behaviour


  2. says:

    Irmgard Keun 1905 1982 in Nice 1938After another lengthy absence from this bug infested marketing platform for Jeff Bezos' Moloch complete with blinding video ads that I now suppress with Opera's excellent ad blocker recommended to all and sundry it is again a novel by Irmgard Keun that motivates me to reach for my electronic uill and parchment Kind aller Länder 1938 available in English translation under the title Child of All Nations Her works banned by the Nazis Keun fled her homeland in 1936 and began four years of increasingly precarious wandering throughout Europe along with a few months in the USA as the host countries became less and less hospitable and her financial situation and exiguous The first two years of this peregrination were spent in the company of her lover the journalist author and fellow alcoholic Joseph Roth and these were the years whose experiences are fictionally transformed in Kind aller LänderI have read some splendid books evoking the dismal life of the refugees flooding from one corner of Europe to another in the 1930's but Kind aller Länder is notably uniue in two significant respects the choice of narrator and the tragi comic manner of presenting that dismal life Let me explain Max Ernst Europe After the Rain II 1940 42The three previous novels Keun wrote in exile were set in Nazi Germany and the vituperative criticism of the Nazi regime and its fellow travelers welling from those books was unlikely to disturb the foreign governments whose forbearance she desperately needed But in 1938 she wanted to portray the life of the emigrants so she was faced with the problem of how to do that honestly without getting on her hosts' bad side Her solution was neat but risky tell the story from the point of view of a ten year old emigrant girl Kully Keun could avoid the direct criticism of the emigrants' host countries a mentally functioning adult would certainly utter and yet indirectly adumbrate the actual situation through a character who doesn't judge just observes and wonders Of course such a choice is fraught as one risks becoming maudlin or saccharine or as happens often enough the character turning out so un childlike that the reader is ejected from the story Though I am no expert on ten year old girls Keun's Kully was convincing even touching as the reader reinterprets her slender grasp of the larger events that chased Kully and her parents through all of Germany's neighboring countries in steadily tightening financial and legal straits as well as her natural inclination to put a positive spin on her father's irresponsible profligacy that left Kully and her mother penniless hungry and ashamed for weeks and months on end imprisoned in expensive hotels whose mounting charges they could not possibly pay while the author father hastened through the capitals of Europe purportedly raising money from editors and publishers for articles plays and novels that never uite came into being This father is the second singularity I spoke of Though the problems with visas police and local predators seeking easy prey that were and are faced by most refugees play a role in this narrative Kully's father's idiosyncrasies soon take center stage Peter is apparently a well known author taken seriously by many but he is also a con man who immediately gives away the money he cons to needy persons and then spends the rest on luxurious food drink clothes and hotels uickly colliding with the need to find another admirer or even a hotel doorman to sponge off of Some kind of intense restlessness drives him from place to place often dragging his hapless family with him as mentioned it is even worse for them when he leaves them behind and exhausting them into illness Of course Kully just accepts that this is the way it is She doesn't judge just observes and loves her father But this reader at least was suirming with particular discomfort when just as his family had found a nest in Nice in which they could be happy Peter drags them off to America through his renommé this man has no problem getting a visa to America the fervently desired goal of most of the other refugees The subseuent comedy of errors leaves me speechlessLike Das kunstseidene Mädchen Kind aller Länder is left open ended without resolution a section is cut out of life and presented in an unforgettable voice the eighteen year old working class Doris in the former and the ten year old Kully in the latter I was very sorry to see each of them go Thousands of his full time employees are paid so poorly that they ualify for the federal food stamp program Needless to say employee unions are not welcome on the Moloch's property I am thinking particularly of Anna Segher's Transit and Die Nacht von Lissabon and Arc de Triomphe by Erich Maria Remarue


  3. says:

    When one commences reading Irmgard Keun's Kind aller Länder Child of All Nations in English translations one is struck almost immediately with and by the exuisite and evocative narrative voice of ten year old Kully In many ways delightful and always simplistically approachable Kully tells her story of basically being a child of all nations and thus never really at home anywhere with both natural and childlike innocence and with an astute power of observation that is not only interesting and educational but also often rather frightening and disconcertingly powerful and astounding for one so young but for all that author Armgard Keun also and thankfully never does slip into the danger of having Kully appear as an artificial child read as an adult masuerading as a child as no matter what Kully describes no matter what she observes and presents to us as readers she is always remains a ten year old with the attitudes and desires of a childNow considering the main thematics of Kind alter Länder Kully's innocent narration does on the one hand somewhat mitigate the seriousness of the presented topics namely the daily life but mostly the often constant and serious financial struggles of a German artistintellectual and his family in exile from the Nazis during the pre war period of the Third Reich as Kully' father is a writer with strong political philosophies who has decided that it would be prudent to leave Germany after the National Socialists burned his books and imprisoned some of his friends On the other hand however Kully's unadorned and straight forward simple observational skills also and often point out with incredible and simple clarity that especially with regard to her family while the main or rather the underlying causes for the exile and resulting woes and problems are indeed the National Socialists' rise to power in Germany there is also much over which to be both massively annoyed frustrated and indeed infuriated with regard to especially and particularly the father's general carelessness and lack of even the most basic sense of responsibility For as much as Kind aller Länder is truly intriguing informative and historically relevant and as much as Kully's personality and observational acumen does brightly shine I for one also tend to find this novel rather somewhat if not actually even majorly depressing and saddening and the casual often entitled selfishness of especially the father and the generally and for all intents and purposes annoyingly absolutely submissive character of the mother to said selfishness and indifference at times nigh impossible to stomach and really in at least some ways almost as infuriating and as anger producing as the fact that Kully and her family have been forced into exile by the Nazis that they have been basically almost mandated forced into a bohemian life of uncertainty simply because her father's writing has made him has made the family by extension enemies of the state at least according to the National Socialists and their acolytes and supportersAnd that Kully's father actually and indeed even generally seems to act immature and childish than his ten year old daughter but that he also hypocritically and strangely often rather harshly disciplines Kullly when she acts her age when she acts as a child would or at least likely could act that he regularly and with scant regret abandons his wife and daughter at the hotels where they had been staying whenever money becomes tight having them face the wrath of the hotel management when payments cannot or can no longer be made that the father also and often is generous towards his many friends than to his nearest and dearest all this and leave a rather bitter taste in my mouth and certainly make me much less sympathetic towards especially the father as a person and while I do much and certainly understand and appreciate the specific political and social reasons why Kully's family has had to leave Germany why the family is in exile from the Nazis much of the father's behaviour and his general careless and selfish attitudes towards life and towards his family do leave rather much to be desired at least for me personally And although one can definitely see that Kully intensely loves her parents both her mother and yes also her father and would than likely have been devastated had they followed her grandmother's advice and left Kully in her care when the father decided to leave Germany to escape from the Nazis' reach in some ways when one considers the father's general rather laissez faire attitudes and careless lack of foresight the grandmother actually had legitimate reasons for wanting her granddaughter for desiring Kully to remain with her and in her care although considering what the Nazis are like the Gestapo might well have decided to get hold of to arrest Kully and her grandmother if they wanted her father and could no longer nab him because he had left GermanyNow all the above having been said I actually do very much appreciate how Irmgard Keun has both structured and conceptualised Kind aller Länder The basic and root causes of Kully's and her family's exile the reasons why they have had to leave Germany are clearly realistically delineated and presented and are definitely portrayed as being first and foremost due to National Socialism and the fact that many many artists intellectuals etc along with their families were suddenly and in some cases almost overnight so to speak no longer personae gratae in Germany But nevertheless the author also and much appreciatively never loses sight of the salient and somewhat uncomfortable truth that while Kully's father while Kully's family are indeed to be regarded as victims of the Nazis Kully and her mother are also and indeed victims of the father's general and all encompassing casual and careless selfishness and immaturity his general lack of will and that he is seemingly both unwilling and unable to provide even a modicum of an ordered and acceptable existence for his wife and daughter and not really all that interested either Highly recommended and even with my four star rating a well deserved spot on my favourites shelf and a novel that I actually am already planning to reread sometime very soon however basic fluency in German is strongly suggested and while Kind aller Länder has been translated into English I have to date only read the German original and thus cannot and will not provide any comments on the possible ualities of the English translations that are currently available


  4. says:

    Published in the mid 1930s Irmgard Keun’s book charts the precarious existence of German political refugees through the eyes of nine year old Kully Kully father Peter and mother Annie are adrift in Europe the outcome of Peter’s vociferous criticism of the Nazi regime Annie’s a shadowy figure Peter dominates the family’s mood and prospects even though he’s absent for much of the action Kully’s commentary suggests her father’s a man of contradictions charming but brooding a heavy drinker continually hustling to pay their way but spendthrift when he’s in pocket Kully describes day after day of waiting for her father keeping up appearances in a series of lavish hotel rooms running up bills they can’t pay while he pursues his latest money making scheme On one level Kully’s a typical child narrator naïve acutely aware of her surroundings and the behaviour of adults but she’s eually tough and oddly world weary Her vivid imagination projects a stream of striking images a traffic policeman’s a lion in disguise Peter’s destination’s a fairy tale castle But her observations also reveal an unsettling fascination with death an underlying sense of the macabre which finally erupts when Peter returns “Sometimes there’s a bang on the street but I can’t tell if it was a gunshot or an exploding tyre because I’ve never heard a gunshot My father has a revolver he can shoot with If we’re ever really stuck he’ll shoot us with it Then at least nothing can happen to us Probably you smell bad when you’re dead just like my dead sea creatures did but that doesn’t matter because we won’t be able to smell ourselves” Peter’s reappearance marks a shift in the pace of Keun’s narrative moving from stifling and near static a convincing portrayal of the refugees’ isolation anxiety and boredom to something frenetic bordering on frenzied There are repeated reports of friends’ suicides Hitler’s “horrible yelling” on the radio and an overwhelming feeling of desperation Lack of money sealing off the family’s escape routesKeun’s depiction of rootless exiles builds on personal experience after her own writing was banned and she fled Germany There’s speculation that Peter’s a version of her lover fellow author Joseph Roth If that’s the case then it’s a far from flattering portrait although it allows for an additional exploration of issues of gender and power or powerlessness Abandoning a conventional autobiographical approach in favour of Kully’s voice delivered in light deft prose works brilliantly to portray this particular historical moment removing the need for extensive political or historical exposition so that Keun can focus on a direct response which captures both the irony and the absurdity of the time


  5. says:

    This is a book I found about here at Goodreads after reviewing some recent translations; a check of the sample and the first few paragraphs were just irresistible for me and I bought and read the book in an eveningI get funny looks from hotel managers but that’s not because I’m naughty; it’s the fault of my father Everyone says that man ought never to have got marriedAt first they treat me as if I was a rich lady’s Pekinese The chambermaids make kissy mouths at me and little mwah mwah noises The maître d’ slips me postage stamps which I save because I might be able to sell them later The man in the lift lets me press the button to our floor and he doesn’t interfere much And the waiters brandish table napkins at me in a friendly sort of way But all that comes to an end when my father has to leave to raise money and my mother and me are left behind and the bill still hasn’t been paid We are left behind as surety and my father says we’ve got as much riding on us as if we’d been fur coats or diamondsThen the waiters in the hotel restaurant no longer brandish their napkins in that jolly way; instead they flick them at our table Mama says they do it to clear the crumbs away but it looks to me like what you do to keep away pesky cats that have their eyes on the roastAnd so it goes and Kully's narration of her European and later even American wanderings interspersed with uotes and letters from her father continue at a fast clip in the same funny somewhat ironic style which shows the insecurities of the child that has no home and the despair of the exile grown up artist and writers who paradoxically have only reputation to sustain them so they need to live expensively to maintain their credit while scrambling to pay their latest bills and staying just ahead of the creditors on scarcer and shorter temporary visas No wonder that for most suicide became the only rational option a little research about the book and the people hinted at during Kully's narration shows that clearly and death is always accompanying Kully who for the most part makes a game about it But not always as the following paragraph showsGrown ups were trying to tell me how it’s possible to go to heaven I hate it when people have such a low opinion of children that they think they’ll believe anything they’re told What person in their right mind would stay in the world with worries and strife if he could be in heaven instead and it not even cost any money?Nor do I believe that bad people go to hell Bad people are much too canny to do bad things if they knew they would go to hell as a resultLike EM Remarue better known novels of exile this novel had a visceral appeal to me and that trumped the occasional niggles the narrative stalls here and there and Kully's voice seems a bit too wise on occasionNoting that the book was written in 1938 there clearly could not be any definite ending to it but still as we turn the last pages we are left with the hope that somehow Kully and her family will find their safe port though we rationally know that their travails are only beginning as Hell is just getting unleashed in its full dimension across most EuropeHighly highly recommended


  6. says:

    Kully is ten years old the daughter of an eccentric writer and his long suffering wife As the second world war becomes imminent the family move from hotel to hotel all around Europe trying to negotiate visas that keep them away from Germany where her father is wanted for writing things against the government The terror experienced by the adults the erratic lifestyle and struggle is all fun and games to the fearless Kully Her father freuently abandons her and her mother as he tries to charm money out of people to fund their extravagant accommodation and drinking arrangements Though it deals with serious subject matter the book is so much fun; hugely entertaining even while the sadness of the adults that Kully does not understand is evident For her it is all just a big adventure with a wide range of interesting characters which I loved reading about A bravery inspiring book


  7. says:

    I absolutely adored Irmgard Keun's Gilgi which I read at the back end of last year and purchased Child of All Nations upon the strength of it Our child narrator Kully roams all over Europe with her nervous mother and impoverished father a writer who is always flitting from one city to the next when he runs out of money and thinks he can borrow some from So and So or Such and SuchFirst written in 1938 and translated by Michael Hoffman Child of All Nations is eminently readable Kully has such a captivating and believable narrative voice Her naiveties are heartfelt and sometimes uite comical A fantastic novel which I didn't want to end


  8. says:

    I first heard of Irmgard Keun from Summer Before the Dark Stefan Zweig and Joseph Roth Ostend 1936 by Volker Weidermann She is one of a group of authors and intellectuals whose books have been banned in Germany and who are living in exile Unlike some of them Keun is not JewishAuthors out of favour with the Nazi regime and exile from Germany feature in this novel as does a summer spend in Ostend The narrator is a nine to ten year old child whose father is such a banned author The family travel from country to country staying as long as their visas allow or sometimes a little longer if they can't find anyone to help them pay the hotel bill The author often goes on other travels usually looking for money from publishers who might pay an advance magazine editors who might commission an article or two distant family members and similar sources He leaves his wife and daughter behind in hotels but with no money at all The family's problems are compounded by the author drinking too much plus some womanising and misplaced generosityI am not usually a fan of child narrators but this one is well imagined The level to which she understands her family situation and the wider political situation feels about right The choice of narrator means that the author can cover serious subjects with a certain lightness of touch which does not lesson the seriousness of the subjects but does make reading about them a enjoyable experienceHere is a sample from early in the book so as not to spoil anythingin Germany before I did go to school and that’s where I learned to read and write Then my father didn’t want to be in Germany any because the government had locked up friends of his and because he couldn’t write or say the things he wanted to write and say I wonder what the point is of children in Germany still having to learn to read and write?


  9. says:

    Down on the streeta man was whistling a tuneMy mother trembled'Did you hear that?Did you hear that whistling?That was the Horst Wessel Song that someone was whistling here in the street here in Amsterdam I don't know the song she meansbut i wonder why it would make my mother so frightened and sad This is a child's eye view of Europe on the brink of World War II Compelling and poignant In 193334 all of Irmgard Keun's books were confiscated and forbidden by the NazisChild of all Nations was written in 1938 in exile


  10. says:

    Ten year old Kully is an unusual girl and she tells her story in a curious conversational way Combining childlike naiveté and playful innocence with an exceptionally astute ability for observation and deduction she interprets and records life around her as she sees it Irmgard Keun uses a young girl's point of view with great skill to portray a reality that may have been too painful to address in depth through an adult voice This way Kully's limited yet realistic perception of traumatic daily life of an émigré family on the run to escape German authorities allows the author to keep a hopeful and optimistic tone in her descriptions of circumstances and people Whether Kully expresses her deep love for her parents comments on her parents' political and financial woes or describes her physical surroundings in the hotels where she stays her sharp witted comments make you laugh and cry at the same time Reading this brief intense novel now than seventy years after it was first published in 1938 we can place the girl and her story into a broader historical context With hindsight we can read between the lines finish her sentences and re interpret her thoughts and shake our head in wonder how she and her family even managed to surviveRarely have I heard a ten year old speak so much and in such apparently light hearted way about death lack of money alcoholism or homelessness Kully feels happiest when traveling with both her parents on a train between destinations on their constant escape from creditors or border controls Too often she stays behind with her mother while her father is off to another project to raise money sell one of his book manuscripts or at least an article or give in to his many weaknesses They stay in the best hotels in the Capitals of Europe and usually have to overstay their welcome because there is no money to pay the bill Her father writer with strong political views that forced them to leave Germany is the most generous person who as soon as he has a few pieces of money invites his friends or helps them out Her beautiful mother Kully notes is reluctant to ask for advances from the various friends publishers or admirers Somehow however money always turns up at the last minuteIrmgard Keun was a very popular German author in the early thirties Her second novel The The Artificial Silk Girlwas a huge success in Germany when it was published in 1932 and immediately translated into English However already in 1933 her books were banned and destroyed and she left Germany in 1935 and did not return under false identity until 1940 Prior to this novel the author published in 1937 Nach Mitternacht AFTER MIDNIGHT that will be available in English for the first time in May 2011 translated by the excellent Anthea Bell It is an 'adult' look at life of simple people under Nazi rule Among recent novels two come to my mind that are narrated also from a child's perspective and interestingly describe the child's family and their life under a totalitarian regime In particular Jenny Erpenbeck's The Book of Words New Directions Paperbook shows certain parallels in language and tone in which the child interprets and misinterprets what it sees or hears such as for example comparing gun fire with exploding tires A CHILD OF ALL NATIONS is for me at least still a very worthy if somewhat irreverent and highly unusual voice to highlight the precarious fate of refugees and émigrés escaping from Nazi Germany in the mid thirties Jenny Erpenbeck BOOK OF WORDS 20042007Marcelo Figueras KAMCHATKA 20042011


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