Erich Kästner (1899–1974) was born in Dresden and after serving in World War I studied history and philosophy in Leipzig, completing a PhD. In 1927 he moved to Berlin and through his prolific journalism quickly became a major intellectual figure in the capital. His first book of poems was published in 1928, as was the children’s book Emil and the Detectives, which quickly achieved worldwide fame. Going to the Dogs appeared in 1931 and was followed by many other works for adults and children, including Lottie and Lisa, the basis for the popular Disney film The Parent Trap. In 1933 the pacifist Kästner was banned from German publication and subsequently found employment as a film scriptwriter. After World War II , he worked as a literary editor and continued to write, mainly for children.
Berlin, 1929: There’s little hope, but plenty of amusement to be had if you know where to look. Jakob Fabian, 32, “at present an advertising copywriter,” isn’t one to mope; he and his friends prowl the city’s cabarets, exchanging barbs and looking for girls. “Graceful, vivid and distinguished … a little masterpiece of pathos and calamity.”—Michael Sadleir