Monday, April 20, 2020

'The Haunted California Idyll of German Writers in Exile'

This is amazing, at Althouse, quoting an article at the New Yorker, "'Indeed, a number of exiles fell to scowling under the palms.... The composer Eric Zeisl called California a 'sunny blue grave'":
"Adorno could have had Muscle Beach in mind when he identified a social condition called the Health unto Death: 'The very people who burst with proofs of exuberant vitality could easily be taken for prepared corpses, from whom the news of their not-quite-successful decease has been withheld for reasons of population policy.'... Such doleful tales raise the question of why so many writers fled to L.A. Why not go to New York, where exiled visual artists gathered in droves? ... [T]he 'lack of a cultural infrastructure' in L.A. was attractive: it allowed refugees to reconstitute the ideals of the Weimar Republic instead of competing with an extant literary scene.... Thomas Mann... lived in a spacious, white-walled aerie in Pacific Palisades... He saw 'Bambi' at the Fox Theatre in Westwood; he ate Chinese food; he listened to Jack Benny on the radio; he furtively admired handsome men in uniform; he puzzled over the phenomenon of the 'Baryton-Boy Frankie Sinatra,' to quote his diaries. Like almost all the émigrés, he never attempted to write fiction about America...."