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Prophets Without Honour: Freud, Kafka, Einstein, and Their World by Frederic V. Grunfeld (with an introduction by Michael Brenner; 134,000 words, 16 illustrations)

Prophets Without Honour is a collective biography set in an extraordinary epoch of cultural history sometimes called “the Weimar Renaissance.” In a series of mini-portraits, Grunfeld has written a tribute to the German-speaking scientists, musicians, writers and artists who created European cultural life in the early twentieth century. All were evicted or murdered by the Nazis. Albert Einstein, Walter Benjamin, Sigmund Freud, Gustav Mahler, and Franz Kafka are the best-known of his subjects but Grunfeld includes such lesser-known figures as Else Lasker-Schüler, Ernst Toller, Gertrud Kolmar, Alfred Döblin, Erich Mühsam, Carl Sternheim, Kurt Tucholsky and Hermann Broch. Grunfeld summarizes their lives, illuminates their work, traces their interactions, and sets it all against the background of Central European political and cultural life in the first three decades of the last century.


“Grunfeld’s fascinating ‘collective biography’... is a peculiar and moving achievement because it puts faces and feet on ideas... one of the odd pleasures of this book is, in its digressions, Mr. Grunfeld’s curiosity.” — John Leonard, The New York Times

“He has put the whole awful, tragic, somehow ennobling story together with a quiet passion and a wealth of unexpected details.” —
Alfred Kazin

“This is a fascinating introduction, written with clarity, compassion, and verve. Strongly recommended.” —
Library Journal

“Grunfeld has brought to life a whole generation that had been buried alive... To read this book is an intellectual adventure. One partakes of the great drama of art and politics played out by Germans and Jews before the darkness fell over Europe.” —
Lucy Dawidowicz