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Journey to the Abyss: The Diaries of Count Harry Kessler, 1880-1918

After I finished up the last page today, I realized that I was a little sad to be leaving someone whose company I had come to enjoy and whose writing left so much to savor. Fundamentally, though, Kessler's diaries should be required reading for anyone interested in belle epoque Europe or the experience of World War I. And Kessler seemed to know everyone , from Monet to Rilke to Hindenberg.

He was even there at the premiere of The Rite of Spring in May when the audience rioted after seeing Nijinsky dance. Anyway, just to offer some flavor, here's my favorite quote: "All around the world war rages and in the center in this nervous city which so much presses and shoves, so many people and lights and colors and interests: politics and music hall, business and yet also art, field gray, privy councilors, chansonettes, and right and left, and up and down, somewhere, very far away, the trenches, regiments storming over to attack, the dying, submarines, zeppelins, airplane squadrons, columns marching on muddy streets, Hindenberg and Ludendorff, victories; Riga, Constantinople, the Isonzo, Flanders, the Russian Revolution, America, the Anzacs, and the poilus , the pacifists and the wild newspaper people.

And all ending up in the half-darkened Friedrichstrasse, filled with people at night, unconquerable, never to be reached by Cossacks, Gurkhas, Chasseurs d'Afrique, Bersaglieris, and cowboys, still not dishonored, despite the prostitutes who pass by. If a revolution were to break out here, a powerful upheaval in this chaos, barricades on Friedrichstrasse, or the collapse of the distant parapets, what a spark, how the mighty, inextricably complicated organism would crack, how like the Last Judgment!

And yet we have experienced, have caused precisely this to happen in Liege, Brussels, Warsaw, Bucharest, even almost in Paris.

Georges Méliès: 20.000 Lieues sous les mers (1907)

That's the world war, all right. Jun 15, Andrew rated it it was amazing. The German count was described by W. Auden as "probably the most cosmopolitan man who ever lived. The book is fascinating as an insight into an artistocrat's world. Famous people pop up with stupid ideas Degas: "Compulsory education is an infamy" ; dinner conversations course among people like George Bernard Shaw and Rodin; a The German count was described by W.

Journey To The Abyss The Diaries Of Count Harry Kessler Results

Famous people pop up with stupid ideas Degas: "Compulsory education is an infamy" ; dinner conversations course among people like George Bernard Shaw and Rodin; and great collaborations like Kessler's with Hoffmanstahl to create Der Rosenkavalier are described. It is worth reading as a reminder of the fervent changes during the Belle Epoque era -- and to see who pops up on the pages. The story of how these journals, which cover Kessler's years as a schoolboy age 12 to the end of World War I, is interesting in itself.

Kessler's later journals on the s and s had long been published but it was supposed that his earlier journals had been lost. However, when a safe deposit box was opened in Mallorca in , the first 38 years were found. Originally published in German, Laird Easton has edited them and published excerpts in English. The footnotes an editing are excellent, covering obscure historic people as well as people like Wilbur Wright with excellent background notes. Kessler is an aristocrat, a snob, a racist, anti-Semitic, a closeted homosexual, and carries the prejudices of his time and class against other people.

But you see his views change over time as he interacts with hundreds of people in the pages of the diary. He is shocked in when his father believes that all countries will become republics in the next century and that it will happen non-violently. Oct 20, John rated it it was amazing. Sep 30, zemzina rated it it was amazing. A fascinating evocation of an entire era, not so distant from us in time but which already feels like a completely different world.

This long and detailed diary reads like a conversation with a much cooler friend who knows everyone you ever wanted to meet. Art, politics and war formed an incredible mix in Count Kessler's life and he described it in perfect literary style.

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If I have anything negative to say about this book it's some minor reservations regarding the translation and commentary. Unf A fascinating evocation of an entire era, not so distant from us in time but which already feels like a completely different world. Unfortunately, I noticed a few errors especially regarding Russian culture and history which I'm reasonably familiar with.


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Those are only blips, though, and don't distract from the overall brilliance of the book. No one could possibly read all this—or even want to. Kessler certainly had a wonderful charmed life. It is a sign that no genuine feelings are in hand. Art needs feelings, consists of intellect and feelings.

KIRKUS REVIEW

If the second element is not available then conventional feelings have to serve as a surrogate. Sentimentality No one could possibly read all this—or even want to. Sentimentality therefore should not be confused with strength of feeling, it is a symptom of the exact opposite. Sep 11, Marc Bosma rated it liked it. Heel intrigerend om een beeld te kunnen krijgen van deze tijd en van de vele verschillende domeinen waarin Kessler actief was. Invloedrijke man.

Journey to the Abyss : The Diaries of Count Harry Kessler 1880-1918

Nov 10, Alexandra rated it it was amazing. Stephen Schenkenberg rated it it was amazing Apr 24, Peter Kavanagh rated it it was amazing Oct 07, Richard Bolson rated it really liked it Jul 30, Win rated it really liked it Feb 13, Jeff rated it liked it May 14, Phil rated it it was amazing Nov 15, Jeff rated it it was amazing Mar 02, Vinaro Sam rated it really liked it Jul 22, Ivan Razl rated it really liked it Mar 18, Markus Nowak rated it it was amazing Jan 12, Erik rated it it was amazing Jan 16, Bill Southall rated it it was amazing Nov 08, Chris Doyle rated it liked it Oct 11, Keith Aldis rated it really liked it Mar 02, Andie rated it liked it Nov 25, Simon Maxwell-Stewart rated it it was amazing Jun 09, Middlethought rated it it was amazing Aug 05, Erika rated it really liked it Jun 13, Colonel Kurtz rated it it was amazing Jul 15, Mickael rated it it was amazing Apr 24, Readers also enjoyed.

About Harry Graf Kessler. Harry Graf Kessler.


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  • English translations of his diaries "Journey to the Abyss" and "Berlin in Lights" reveal anecdotes and details of artistic, theatrical, and political life in Europe, mostly in Germany, from the late 19th century through the collapse of Germany at the end of World War I until his death Harry Clemens Ulrich Kessler was an Anglo-German count, diplomat, writer, and patron of modern art.

    English translations of his diaries "Journey to the Abyss" and "Berlin in Lights" reveal anecdotes and details of artistic, theatrical, and political life in Europe, mostly in Germany, from the late 19th century through the collapse of Germany at the end of World War I until his death in Lyon in Books by Harry Graf Kessler. He captured, in his person and in his thoroughly engrossing diaries, all the dichotomies of his era: the ideals and the devastation, the passion and the despondency, the frisson and the horror. Absolutely riveting. Easton ranks it one of the greatest diaries ever.

    outer-edge-design.com/components/mobile/4714-mobile-hangouts-location.php Many will agree. Laird Easton is to be congratulated on leading English-speaking readers, via Kessler's masterpiece, into the heart of Germany before its catastrophe. He seeks out great artists and gives us memorable portraits of Verlaine in old age, of Degas and Renoir, of Rodin and Maillol, of Rilke and Hofmannsthal, of Cosima Wagner, of Richard Strauss, of Diaghilev and Nijinsky, and of other great dancers and theatrical figures of the age. He tells us of the intrigues of the German Imperial Court.

    The cast list alone makes this an amazing diary. This is such an important book. It is a great act of historical witness, and a great source of scandalous insight and gossip. He could size up a German princess with level-eyed candor. He was passionate about the arts and politics--and is one of the best observers of his epoch. This is a classic book for the ages to keep and reread. Even the way I dress is in a way inspired by him. The eight volumes of his diaries are always near my bedside in my houses. Kessler represents for me Germany at its best, a Germany now gone forever. A man of many parts, highly educated, a democrat when this was not at all fashionable--he knew everyone, and everyone knew him.

    His massive diaries are of absorbing interest, essential reading for all those interested in European cultural history of the period.

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    To read Journey to the Abyss: The Diaries of Count Harry Kessler, is to revisit, at least in revery, a lost world of European civilization, to experience for a while all the cultivated douceur de vivre that disappeared forever in the blood-soaked trenches of World War I. Buy New Learn more about this copy. About AbeBooks. Other Popular Editions of the Same Title. Search for all books with this author and title. Customers who bought this item also bought. Stock Image. Published by Knopf New Hardcover Quantity Available: 1. Seller Rating:.

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