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House of Exile: The Lives and Times of Heinrich Mann and Nelly Kroeger-Mann Hardcover – May 10, 2011

3.3 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


House of Exile is an engaging, unconventional exercise in collective biography . . . [that] mixes historical research with almost poetic imagination, creating a compelling panorama.” —Ian Brunskill, The Times (London)

“Scintillating and rather magical...House of Exile is an extraordinary book, and a really rare accomplishment."  —Michael Hofman, The Times Literary Supplement
“Juers creates a composite subjectivity through which the reader experiences the unfolding political events with unusual intimacy and immediacy. Her use of various running motifs to connect different parts of the story adds to the effect . . . It's a provocative but inspired application of the methods of poetry to non-fiction . . . [There is] an implicit assertion that, in the right hands, history and biography can do everything the novel can do, only better. [Juers] certainly makes a good case for it.” —James Lasdun, The Guardian

About the Author

Evelyn Juers is the copublisher of Giramondo Publishing and HEAT magazine. She has lived in Hamburg, Sydney, London, and Geneva. She has a PhD from the University of Essex, and her essays on art and literature have appeared in publications around the world.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (May 10, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374173168
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374173166
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.2 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,004,720 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This is not a biography of Heinrich and Nelly Mann per se. The subtitle is deceptive,whereas the subtitle of the UK edition ("War, Love and Literature, from Berlin to Los Angeles")describes the book more accurately, if not elegantly. The book was originally published in Australia in 2008 by Giramondo Publishing. It so happens that our author is co-publisher of that organization. I concede that the dustjacket flap makes no secret of it. However, as every author, publisher and bookseller knows, one does not have one's writing published by the company one owns,works for or is associated with in other ways. The reasons for this are obvious and need not be elaborated on. The author has read and excerpted widely from available sources, and some original research into Nelly's origins and family is evident. But the question to be asked is: was the book necessary? There is a great number of individual and collective biographies available on the lives and works of exiled artists of all stripes in all places, esp. the United States. The book is not a bad read, and some of the juxtapositions resulting from Ms. Juers' collage technique are indeed clever and illuminating. Other pages are mere padding and/or do not bear on the subject at hand. Especially puzzling is the introduction, several times over, of Virginia Woolf - not a displaced person, nor did she have any connection with anyone in the cast of characters. Three small errors: p.282, Hertha Pauli was never Mehring's wife, but his companion for a while; p. 288, Alfred Polgar was born as Alfred (not Josef) Polak; p. 303, Eva Hermann should read Herrmann.
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Format: Hardcover
The subject of this book is one that interests me deeply, but the author's style is such that it nearly drove me crazy to read it. She keeps trying to be poetic and sensitive when what we really want is the facts, which are far more interesting than her delicate riffs on art, language, soul, and her characters' psyches. (I say characters instead of subjects, because that is how she treats them.) To give but a random sampling: on page 132, we get "From a simple 'oops, sorry' to total insanity, the kith and kin of error leap through a mindstream of lexical derivatives..." On the facing page, "at its core he discovered not evil pure and simple, but something terribly human, a kind of lethargy of the soul, all leathery and repulsive...One imagines it is only tangible, barely audible, never visible." One wants to know what these interesting people DID, what they went through; instead one gets pages of pure blather.
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Format: Paperback
This is a wonderful, collective biography, touching on various people, but based mainly on Heinrich and Thomas Mann who were forced to flee Europe for America. The book is split into two parts - the first of which looks at the Mann family before the war years and the second part taking us from 1934 to the end of the war. Although there are some authors mentioned who were not directly caught up in the need to flee Europe (Virginia Woolf and James Joyce for instance), most of those included in the book were exiles and fleeing for their very life against Nazi oppression.

The author very cleverly sets the scene with part one of the book, which deals with their early life, Heinrich's envy of Thomas Mann's success, their sister Carla's acting career, family suicides and early relationships. There was also a breach between Heinrich and Thomas in 1910 - the rift lasted until 1922. Life seemed to be going along in much the usual way on a human level - with marriages, divorces, children, family probems, etc. Or, as normal as you can manage when Thomas Mann was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1929 and Heinrich elected President of the Literary Section of Prussian Academy of the Arts. However, the politics of the period would intrude all too soon. Heinrich was regarded as a leading representative of the Weimar Republic and was a tireless advocate of democracy and filled with the fledgling idea of a United States of Europe. Hitler considered Heinrich Mann to be the father of German literary activism and was worried that Mann could provide the unity so urgently needed by the Left and a perfect candidate for the Weimar Republic. Years later, Heinrich Mann considered he may have been right.
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Format: Hardcover
I was midway this book, becoming angrier and angrier. Not much is known about the life of Nelly Kroeger-Mann prior to her relationship to Heinrich Mann and the author makes several conjectures. Many sentences begin "perhaps..." because the truth, the history was not known. I finally decided to not read it as history but as a work of fiction. I stayed with it because it provides insight to European history and artists of the time and while the author jumps without warning from the Heinrich Manns to the Thomas Manns to Virginia Woolf she is very descriptive and insightful with the characters.

I am seeing a trend in history books I do not like: telling the reader what the subject thought and felt when it is obvious that the author had no way of knowing.
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