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(cover: Susan Erony)

Destiny's Journey by Alfred Döblin (edited by Edgar Pässler, translated from the German by Edna McCown, introduction by Peter Demetz; 131,000 words)

Destiny's Journey is a memoir reconstructed partly from notebooks that Döblin kept from the time he worked in the French Ministry of Information in the spring of 1940 and partly written without notes in Los Angeles where he took refuge during the Second World War. It tells the personal and generational story of the flight of Jewish and anti-Nazi intellectuals from Europe to America, their fear and frustration, isolation, and inability to work. Döblin’s story differs from that of other Jewish intellectuals and artists in that his family converts to Catholicism in Los Angeles. Unlike most of them, he returns to Europe as an officer with the French forces and works on denazifying German literature. The conversion narrative bridges the departure from and return to Europe. To critic John Simon, “the latter part of the book often reads like a shrill piece of Christian homiletics. But even this is not without interest, as it traces the transformation of an anarchic outsider into a dogmatic insider.”


“The first part of ‘Destiny's Journey’ [about] Döblin's departure from Paris [in] 1940... is magisterial: acidly observed, saturated in telling detail, grimly comic and harrowing... with an exemplary introduction by Peter Demetz... an important, nourishing book” — John Simon,
The New York Times