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tyler langendorfer

Two Radical Texts from Wilhelmine Germany

Two Radical Texts from Wilhelmine Germany

Reviewed by Tyler Langendorfer

Though largely a conservative society, Wilhelmine Germany was nonetheless home to some of the most progressive and pioneering thinkers of its time. The pronounced militarism and censorship embodied by Kaiser Wilhelm II were counteracted by early human-rights activism and experimental, anti-reactionary art. Yet fiction and non-fiction from this period, in particular from exponents representing the liberal side of these conflicting forces, have remained largely unknown to Anglophone readers. Seeking to rectify this problem, the Berlin-based publisher Rixdorf Editions, in two authoritative translations by James Conway, has now released two texts never before available in English: The Guesthouse at the Sign of the Teetering Globe (1917) by Franziska (Fanny) zu Reventlow, a short story collection; and Berlin’s Third Sex (1904) by Magnus Hirschfeld, which according to Conway is “arguably the first truly serious, sympathetic study of the gay and lesbian experience ever written.”

Emili Teixidor's <br><i>Black Bread</i>

Emili Teixidor's
Black Bread

Reviewed by Tyler Langendorfer

Midway through Emili Teixidor’s Black Bread, a question surfaces: “Does memory have a guiding thread or purpose?” The many enigmatic qualities of memory seem to be under investigation here and throughout the entire novel. Its qualities alongside its centrality in the understanding of ourselves: How does it shape the type of person we become? Would we be completely different with a whole new set of memories? Black Bread frequently alludes to memory’s instability, its wavering between continuity and transience: What images and words trigger memories to reappear? Why do some individuals stay in our mind longer than others? Yet perhaps the most disquieting aspect of Teixidor’s insistent investigation is his consideration of memory’s value in our relationships with others: Do memories demand fidelity to loved ones? If friends and family start to fade from the mind, does their importance diminish with them? As the burden of these inquiries takes hold, the adolescent narrator of Black Bread, Andreu, realizes that the dissolution of his connections with the past—-the ephemerality of meaning that this precipitates—-is a fate worse than death. . . .