Fabian: The Story of a Moralist

Enrich Kastner, Author, Erich Kastner, Author, Cyrus Brooks, Translator Northwestern University Press $18 (177p) ISBN 978-0-8101-1137-0
This new edition of the English translation of Kastner's 1931 novel restores the erotic elements prudishly omitted in its 1932 publication. Fabian, an advertising copywriter who loses his job in early 1930s Berlin, visits tawdry sex establishments; he is propositioned by a woman whose husband has the right of approval over her choice of lovers; and he accompanies his friend Labude to a dance hall where women shimmy about in bathing suits. Fabian's exploits are always amusing and include a trip to the Anonymous Cabaret, where patrons throw sugar cubes at the performers. Eventually Fabian falls in love with an apprentice lawyer named Cornelia, but a sense of doom hangs over the character, and he loses her when she is offered a part in a movie. Although the translation is sometimes stilted--characters often say ``shall'' rather than ``will,'' for example--Kastner (1899-1974) had a message to convey about the crumbling of Berlin's moral standards, and he delivered it successfully. Livingstone's foreword delineates the period's political situation, but it is Fabian himself who explains things best when he comments ironically, ``We live in stirring times . . . and they get more stirring every day.'' (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 11/29/1993
Release date: 12/01/1993
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