Adam Kirsch is a poet and critic. His most recent book is The Global Novel: Writing the World in the 21st Century. (June 2017)


Ironists of a Vanished Empire

Edge of Irony: Modernism in the Shadow of the Habsburg Empire

by Marjorie Perloff
There is a whole academic industry devoted to the writers, thinkers, and artists who flourished in Weimar Germany—figures like Thomas Mann, Walter Benjamin, Bertolt Brecht, and Kurt Schwitters. But Marjorie Perloff believes that this focus on Germany has cast a shadow over the distinctively different work done by twentieth-century German writers who lived in the territories once belonging to the Habsburg Empire.

The Stranger in Love

Peter Handke in the garden of Bartenstein Castle, Schrozberg, Germany, 1999

The Moravian Night: A Story

by Peter Handke, translated from the German by Krishna Winston
The Moravian Night might seem like the inevitable English title for Peter Handke’s 2008 novel Die morawische Nacht, but it is actually rather misleading. Moravia is the eastern region of the Czech Republic, whose largest city is Brno; Mähren in German, it is called Moravia in English (and Latin) after …

Songs Beyond Mankind

Paul Celan, 1967

Breathturn into Timestead: The Collected Later Poetry

by Paul Celan, translated from the German and with commentary by Pierre Joris
On July 25, 1967, postwar Germany’s greatest poet paid a call on its greatest philosopher. Such a meeting would be historically significant no matter what else was at stake; but the encounter of Paul Celan and Martin Heidegger was also haunted by the ghosts of Germany’s terrible recent history. Heidegger …

The World Turned Upside Down

A propaganda newsreel for the Greater Nazi Reich in the first episode of The Man in the High Castle

The Man in the High Castle

a television series created by Frank Spotnitz and adapted from the novel by Philip K. Dick
In October, The New York Times Magazine presented its readers with an unexpected question: “Could You Kill a Baby Hitler?” The response to the online poll was closely divided, with 42 percent of respondents saying they would indeed take the opportunity to kill Hitler when he was a baby, if …

The Changing Faith of a Hero

Dietrich Bonhoeffer at an ecumenical conference, Gland, Switzerland, August 1932

Strange Glory: A Life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer

by Charles Marsh
One night in the fall of 1930, when he was twenty-four years old, Dietrich Bonhoeffer went to a Manhattan movie theater to see the new film of All Quiet on the Western Front. Bonhoeffer, a young German theologian who was spending the academic year at Union Theological Seminary, was accompanied …


The Strange Paradise of Paul Scheerbart

In general, to predict that technology will solve all the problems it has caused—that we can innovate ourselves out of global warming, for instance—today seems childishly, intolerably optimistic. It is exactly that kind of unfashionable, childlike hopefulness that animates the writing of Paul Scheerbart, a German writer whose name is only now becoming familiar to English readers, a hundred years after his death.