Sensation Fair: Tales of Prague

Sensation Fair: Tales of Prague

by Egon Erwin Kisch
     
 

Sensation Fair: Tales of Prague (Marktplatz der Sensationen) is the memoir of the writer who elevated journalism to the status of literature in 20th century Europe. Taking his cue from the blind Czech balladeer who sang in the courtyard of his family’s Prague apartment in the 1890s, Egon Erwin Kisch created a body of work based in fact. Kisch wrote Sensation…  See more details below

Overview

Sensation Fair: Tales of Prague (Marktplatz der Sensationen) is the memoir of the writer who elevated journalism to the status of literature in 20th century Europe. Taking his cue from the blind Czech balladeer who sang in the courtyard of his family’s Prague apartment in the 1890s, Egon Erwin Kisch created a body of work based in fact. Kisch wrote Sensation Fair in Mexico during his exile from Nazi-occupied Europe as Stefan Zweig was writing The World of Yesterday in Brazil. Although the writers were Central European Jewish contemporaries, they could not have been more different. Sensation Fair is the memoir of a former police reporter and dedicated Communist. His rollicking, ironic, muckraking portrait of turn-of-the century Prague is a passionate argument for the value of non-fiction narrative.

“delightfully and cleverly done, with dozens of good yarns and stories in it ... He writes with a touch and a wit of his own.” – New York Times

“Sensation Fair is brisk story and haunting picture of a youth in old Prague, journalism in the Austro-Hungarian Empire ... conspicuously varied both in substance and mood. Egon Erwin Kisch can see life and write of it with incisive concentration and romantic allusiveness, tenderness and ribaldry, humor and candor and scorn ... a lively and mellow picture, personal and not too nostalgic, of a bygone world.” – New York Times

“One feels in the presence of this book, as in the presence of the author himself, a richness and zest that cannot be defeated in the most difficult conditions of exile ... at once considered and colloquial ... one sees reflected the buoyancy and seriousness which are equally basic to [Kisch’s] character.” – The New Masses

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
2940015683882
Publisher:
Plunkett Lake Press
Publication date:
09/20/2012
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
376
File size:
392 KB

Meet the Author

Prague-born Egon Erwin Kisch (1885-1948) established narrative non-fiction as an art form in Central Europe. The son of a Jewish draper, he became a journalist and part of a circle of writers that included Franz Werfel, Max Brod, Rainer Maria Rilke, Hugo Bergmann and Franz Kafka. Their literary hybrid of Czech, Jewish and German cultures was unique and they were mocked for sitting in cafés where they “werfelt und brodet und kafkat und kischt.”

Kisch attended technical university, dropped out, and studied journalism in Berlin. After returning to Prague, he became police reporter for the German-language paper Bohemia from 1906 to 1913. His muckraking features ran under the headline “Roaming Through Prague” and explored the city’s underworld of bars, dives, gambling dens, prostitutes and murderers. His first major scoop was the story behind the sensational forced suicide of Colonel Alfred Redl, intelligence officer in the Austro-Hungarian army, in 1913. Kisch served in World War I and was wounded in action. He kept a diary, later published as Write It Down Kisch! His military experience further radicalized him and in 1918, Kisch participated as a Red Guard in a failed putsch in Vienna. He returned to Prague journalism and theater, but was drawn to Berlin. In Weimar Germany, his “literature of fact” became part of the Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity) cultural movement.

In 1924, his collection of pieces Der rasende Reporter (The Raging Reporter) became a bestseller, followed by many other books of reportage from Europe, North Africa, the Soviet Union, China, and the U.S. The Nazis arrested Kisch, a Communist and a Jew, in 1933 and deported him to Czechoslovakia. His books were banned. That year, he wrote Tales from Seven Ghettos, accounts of Jewish communities from the Thirty Years’ War until the 1930s.

In 1934, he sailed to Australia for an anti-war congress, was denied entry, but jumped off the boat, and broke his leg. The “Kisch Affair” became a cause célèbre, raising Australian awareness of Nazism. Kisch wrote it up in Australian Landfall before going to Spain to report on the Spanish Civil War. In 1939, Kisch fled to New York but was denied residence in the U.S. He and his wife Gisela spent the war in Mexico City, where he wrote Sensation Fair. In 1946, Kisch returned to his birthplace a hero. He died in Prague in March of 1948.

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