Sunday, December 23, 2012
English innocence in Weimar Germany (Books - The Temple by Stephen Spender)
The Temple a little more. Spender wrote it in 1929-1930 at the age of 21, so it has all of the enthusiasm of that tender age. It was never published, I suppose, because it would have outed a few too many of his acquaintances and he feared action for libel. Spender rewrote it in 1986, updating it with clunky self-conscious awareness of the impending war that deprives the narrator of what I suspect was too embarrassing a show of political naivete. To my reading, this stripped what is already a work of patent juvenilia of most of its charm. What remains pscyhologically astute and historically interesting is the certainty of the young characters that Germany was in a revolutionary time of enlightened openness, that there would never be another war, and among the most educated of the characters, many of whom were Jewish or homosexual, a conspicuous blindness to the threat of the rising Nazi party. That observation and a good deal of decent descriptive writing kept me going.