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Address Unknown by Kressmann Taylor

Address Unknown (original 1938; edition 2016)

by Kressmann Taylor (Author)

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7855818,059 (4.18)23
A rediscovered classic, originally published in 1938 -- and now an international bestseller. Address Unknown When it first appeared in Story magazine in 1938, Address Unknown became an immediate social phenomenon and literary sensation. Published in book form a year later and banned in Nazi Germany, it garnered high praise in the United States and much of Europe. A series of fictional letters between a Jewish art dealer living in San Francisco and his former business partner, who has returned to Germany, Address Unknown is a haunting tale of enormous and enduring impact.… (more)
Title:Address Unknown
Authors:Kressmann Taylor (Author)
Info:CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (2016), 62 pages
Collections:Your library, EBooks
Tags:Ebooks, American Writer, American Fiction, Fiction, Totalitarianism

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Address Unknown by Kathrine Kressmann Taylor (1938)


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» See also 23 mentions

English (31)  French (11)  Italian (5)  Spanish (4)  Catalan (2)  Hebrew (2)  German (2)  Dutch (1)  All languages (58)
Showing 1-5 of 31 (next | show all)
While this isn't a book I would usually go for, I'm glad it fell into my hands.

In 1933, this is an exchange of letters between an American Jew and his German friend who soon joins the national socialist party. In the span of 63 pages, 19 letters, this will first arouse your misbelief, then your disgust, and finally a feeling of secret victory; still, it will leave you with a bitter taste in your mouth.

It's a story everyone of us has heard, over and over again and in many varieties, and still, this feels shocking and new. A reminder of how important it is that these events will not be forgotten.

Personally, this made me think a lot of this indie horror game called Presentable Liberty, in which you're stuck in a prison cell during humanity's rapid extermination outside of the walls, your only means of information being letters slid under the door. Absolutely terrifying. ( )
  nimbon | Jul 24, 2018 |
short read, two friends sending letters back and forth between US and Germany just before WWII. Something kind of great how it articulates the descent from friendship to antisemitic hate. ( )
  margaretfield | Jan 22, 2018 |
Powerful. Heart-wrenching. Left me in a cold-sweat

The horrors of Nazi Germany. ( )
  turningleaves | Sep 22, 2017 |
Address Unknown was originally published in Story magazine in 1938 and immediately became a literary sensation, being reprinted in book form the next year in both the US and Europe.

The plot unfolds in epistolary form as a a series of letters between partners in an art gallery in San Francisco. Martin Schulse has returned to Germany with his family, while his Jewish partner Max Eisenstein remains in California to run the business. The letters begin as missives between two dear friends, but begin to take a turn as Martin is drawn into local political office and seduced by the message of the rising power of the Nazi party.

When Max receives a return letter from his actress sister marked "Addressat unbekannt," he pleads for Martin's assistance in her (she had been at one time Martin's lover). But Martin, now part of the Nazi apparatus refuses and tells Max to cease all contact. However, Max continues to write cryptic business letters to his former partner and friend.

Today, of course, the story seems predictable, but at its publication the story called attention to what was unfolding in Germany in the 1930s.

Last night I saw a production of the Pulitzer Prize winning play, Disgraced, by Ayad Akhtar, which chronicles the destruction of the career of a secular Muslim because he spoke up in court for an imam accused of terrorism. The message of the play was not so different from the message of Taylor's story. ( )
2 vote janeajones | Apr 8, 2016 |

Address Unknown is a short epistolary novella with a fascinating plot and a strong message; it was first published in 1938 and its author, Kressmann Taylor, is today almost forgotten.

Max and Martin own a successful art gallery in San Francisco. They are not only business partners but best friends. The bachelor Max is a frequent and welcome guest at Martin's home and quasi a member of the family; the delicate situation that Max' sister and Martin have an affair about which Max is aware but keeps quiet to Martin's wife adds an element of complicity to the relationship between the two friends.

Martin, who has never succeeded in becoming a real American, decides to return to Germany with his growing family. It is the year 1932, and a catastrophe is casting already its long shadows on Germany and Europe. What we read are the fictitious letters and a telegram between Max and Martin, which are an exemplary document for the shocking developments on a large scale in Germany.

The first letters contain the exchange of joint pleasant memoirs, some business news, family developments and also a growing amount of political statements. The friendship between the two once close friends doesn't survive very long the seizing of the power by the Nazis on 30 January, 1933.

Although Martin has in San Francisco never voiced anti-Semitic opinions, he suddenly talks about the inferiority of the Jews as a race, patronizes local Nazi leaders and finally requests from his former close friend to stop communicating with him. Max reluctantly agrees, but asks for a last time desperately for help from his former friend. His sister has disappeared from her Berlin home and Max' last letter has returned to him with the stamp "Address Unknown" on it which makes Max fear the worst.

When Martin writes in one of his letters to Max that the pogroms happen because "you (i.e. the Jews) are lamenting all the time, but you don't have the courage to fight back", he is committing a serious error that will cost him dearly.

As readers we can relate to both main characters, even to Martin. He is neither a sadist nor a born Jew-hater. He is a victim of the times and political circumstances in which he is entangled; he is a weakling and coward; he has too much to lose and he loves his wealth which he likes to show off a little bit too much - the combination of these characteristics make him the perfect Nazi follower and tool of their policy - just as millions of others that would have been in all probability decent persons and good friends, were it not for the specific circumstances in which they lived.

In a time of growing racism, populism and fascism in many countries, I would like to see this small book read much more; it is an antidote against these evils - and it sets an example that indeed individuals can fight back the Nazis or similar regimes and their followers; maybe not all is lost as long as people are aware that they are usually not completely powerless and can sometimes fight back with success.

A small and very impressive book. ( )
  Mytwostotinki | Mar 19, 2016 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Kathrine Kressmann Taylorprimary authorall editionscalculated
Arduini, AdaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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My dear Martin: Back in Germany! How I envy you!
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Schulser se laisse entraîner dans l’euphorie nazie et ne se rend pas compte de la trahison humanitaire. La faiblesse humaine. 
Should be on school curriculum.
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