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Berlin in the 1920's

lulu This page is a checklist of useful and interesting books on the cultural milieu of Berlin in the 1920's. It also represents some of the books I have collected or studied on the period. This checklist is offered as background on the time Louise Brooks spent in Europe in the late 1920's, while working on Pandora's Box (1929) and Diary of a Lost Girl (1929).

Most all of the books represented here were published in the United States. There are certainly many other books available in Europe which explore similar material. (A few books listed below are reprints of European editions.) Annotations for individual titles are offered when relevant or useful. This bibliography has been compiled by thomas gladysz.

Germany During the Weimar Period
--- Much has been written on this fascinating time in German history. Berlin, especially, has been the subject of numerous historical studies as well as the subject of much fiction: most notable of the literary works set during the Weimar Republic are Christopher Isherwood's The Berlin Stories (basis for the play Cabaret), and Alfred Doblin's Berlin Alexanderplatz.

What was Berlin like in 1928? Louise Brooks wrote:- "Sex was the business of the town. At the Eden Hotel, where I lived, the cafe bar was lined with the higher-priced trollops. The economy girls walked the street outside. On the corner stood the girls in boots, advertising flagellation. Actor's agents pimped for the ladies in luxury apartments in the Bavarian Quarter. Racetrack touts at the Hoppegarten arranged orgies for groups of sportsmen. The nightclub Eldorado displayed an enticing line of homosexuals dressed as women. At the Maly, there was a choice of feminine or collar-and-tie lesbians. Collective lust roared unashamed at the theater. In the revue Chocolate Kiddies, when Josephine Baker appeared naked except for a girdle of bananas, it was precisely as Lulu's stage entrance was described by Wedekind: 'They rage there as in a menagerie when the meat appears at the cage.' "

For additional background material, interested individuals might also care to track down biographies of some of the cultural figures of the time, such as the composer Kurt Weill or the playwrite Bertolt Brecht. Expressionism - a movement which permeated all of the arts - is also a topic which comes to bear on Brooks' work in Germany.

de Jonge, Alex. Weimar Chronicle: Prelude to Hitler. New York: Meridan, 1978.
--- political and cultural history of the time

Von Eckardt, Wolf and Gilman, Sander. Bertolt Brecht's Berlin: A Scrapbook of the Twenties. New York: Anchor Press, 1975.
--- illustrated survey of daily life, culture, politics

Eisner, Lotte H. The Haunted Screen. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1973.
--- classic study of early German cinema, especially the influence of literary expressionism and the theater of Max Reinhardt; Louise Brooks and her work with G. W. Pabst is discussed

Everett, Susanne. Lost Berlin. New York & London: Hamlyn, 1979.
--- excellent illustrated look at the inter-war period

Faderman, Lillian and Eriksson, Brigitte. Lesbians in Germany: 1890's - 1920's. Tallahassee, Florida: Naiad Press, 1980.
--- small anthology of mostly turn-of-the-century documents in translation

Friedrich, Otto. Before the Deluge. New York: Harper & Row, 1972.
--- portrait of Berlin in the 1920's

Friedrich, Thomas. Berlin Between the Wars. New York: The Vendome Press, 1991.
--- large, pictorial survey of Berlin life, includes street scenes, political and cultural figures, entertainment, etc . . . .

Gandert, Gero. Der Film der Weimarer Republik 1929. Ein Handbuch der zeitgenossischen Kritik. Berlin and New York: de Gruyter, 1993.
--- survey of films and related criticism

Gay, Peter. Weimar Culture. New York: Harper & Row, 1968.
--- cultural history of the time - "the outsider as insider"

Gill, Anton. A Dance Between Flames. New York: Carol and Graf, 1993.
--- history of Berlin between the wars

Gordon, Mel. Voluptuous Panic: The Erotic World of Weimar Berlin. Venice, California: Feral House, 2000.
--- heavily illustrated, groundbreaking look at the sexual underground of the period

Hake, Sabine. The Cinema's Third Machine. Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press, 1993.
--- study of film criticism in Germany 1907 - 1933

Jelavich, Peter. Berlin Cabaret. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1993.
--- superb study of the popular and avant-garde entertainment

Kaes, Anton. Jay, Martin. Dimendberg, Edward. The Weimar Republic Sourcebook. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994.
--- massive collection of period documents - especially interesting are chapters 22, "The Roaring Twenties: Cabaret and Urban Entertainment," and chapter 25, "Cinema from Expressionism to Social Realism"

Kobal, John. Great Film Stills of the German Silent Era. New York: Dover, 1981.
--- survey of films, includes an introductory essay by Lotte H. Eisner

Large, David Clay. Berlin. New York: Basic Books, 2000.
--- history of Berlin in the modern era - especially relevant are chapters four and five

McCormick, Richard W. Gender and Sexuality in Weimar Germany. New York: Palgrave, 2001.
--- study of film, literature and "new objectivity"

Meskimmon, Marsha. We Weren't Modern Enough: Women Artists and the Limits of German Modernism. Berkeley, California: University of California Press, 1999.
--- Brooks is referenced in the chapter on the image of the prostitute during the Weimar

Michalski, Sergiusz. New Objectivity. Taschen, 1994.
--- painting, graphic art and photography in Germany 1919 - 1933

Page, Norman. Auden and Isherwood: The Berlin Years. New York: St. Martins, 1998.
--- interesting account of the lives of two English writers in Weimar Berlin; Louise Brooks is referenced

Palmer, Torsten. The Weimer Republic: through the lens of the press. Koneman, 2000.
--- heavily illustrated look at daily life and politics of the time

Petro, Patrice. Joyless Streets. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1989.
--- study of women and melodramatic representation in Weimar Germany; Louise Brooks is discussed

Richie, Alexandra. Faust's Metropolis. New York: Carol & Graf, 1998.
--- massive history of Berlin - especially relevant is chapter nine, "The Golden Twenties"

Saunders, Thomas J.. Hollywood in Berlin. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994.
--- study of American Cinema and its influence in Weimar Germany

Schrader, Barbel. Schebera, Jurgen. The "Golden" Twenties. New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press, 1988.
--- illustrated survey of literature and the visual arts

Tatar, Maria. Lustmord: Sexual Murder in Weimar Germany. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1995.
--- examination of images of sexual murder in Weimar culture

Wager, Jans B. Dangerous Dames. Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, 1999.
--- two brief mentions of Pandora's Box in this study subtitled "Women and Representation in the Weimar Street Film and Film Noir"

Ward, Janet. Weimar Surfaces. Berkeley, California: University of California Press, 2001.
--- a study of urban visual culture

Willett, John. Art & Politics in the Weimar Period. New York: Pantheon, 1978.
--- illustrated look at the cultural and political upheaval of the era

Willett, John. The Weimar Years: A Culture Cut Short. London: Thames & Hudson, 1984.
--- illustrated look at the Weimar period

Willett, John. The Theatre of the Weimar Republic. New York: Holmes & Meier, 1988.
--- a study of the stage from popular entertainment to the avant-garde; Louise Brooks is referenced

Wolsdorff, Christian. Berlin Yesterday. Corte Madera, California: Gingko Press, 1998.
--- pictorial survey of street scenes dating from the 1920's

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