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1913: The Year Before the Storm

de Florian Illies

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5872731,446 (3.79)29
This is a moving true account of European society on the brink of war. A witty yet moving narrative worked up from sketched documentary traces and biographical fragments, 1913 is an intimate cultural portrait of a world that is about to change forever. The stuffy conventions of the nineteenth century are receding into the past, and 1913 heralds a new age of unlimited possibility. Kafka falls in love; Louis Armstrong learns to play the trumpet; a young seamstress called Coco Chanel opens her first boutique; Charlie Chaplin signs his first movie contract; and new drugs like cocaine usher in an age of decadence. Yet everywhere there is the premonition of ruin - the number 13 is omnipresent, and in London, Paris, Vienna, Berlin, Trieste, artists take the omen and act as if there were no tomorrow, their brief coincidences of existence telling of a darker future. In a Munich hotel lobby, Rilke and Freud discuss beauty and transience; Proust sets out in search of lost time; and while Stravinsky celebrates the Rite of Spring with industrial cacophony, in Munich an Austrian postcard painter by the name of Adolf Hitler sells his conventional cityscapes. Told with Illies' characteristic mixture of poignant evocation and laconic irony, 1913 is the story of the year that shaped the last century.… (més)
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Anglès (20)  Alemany (3)  Danès (2)  Castellà (1)  Neerlandès (1)  Totes les llengües (27)
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An interesting look at the world before everything changed. Some politicians, psychiatrists, artists, and writers are showcased in this book. Snippets of their lives make up the month to month chapters like what is happening between Freud and Jung, Duchamp, Kafka's attempt at a relationship, and Stalin and Hitler passing each other in the park. Chevy Chase should be credited with the monthly update that the Mona Lisa is still missing. It seems like a personal view of the year by those who experienced it, but so much is not documented. There is a small bibliography, but no citations in the text. How much is conjecture and how much is true is for the reader to decide. The book seems more historical fiction than non-fiction which I found annoying, but the writing style made it enjoyable. ( )
  evil_cyclist | Mar 16, 2020 |
"Read" as an audiobook auf Deutsch. Intriguing and often witty, if bitty. Snapshots of the famous, mainly creative artists, mainly in the German-speaking world. Here and there other nations get a look-in but that makes them seem arbitrary, e.g. why DH Lawrence, not Somerset Maugham or Henry James or Augustus John. Odd coincidences, eg, Stalin and Hitler and Trotsky all walked the same park in Vienna at the same time, while all three were nobodies. Gives a strange feeling that 1913 was packed with geniuses, but a similar account could probably be given of any year in the last 200. A discovery for me was Else Lasker-Schüler, fine poet I'd like to explore more.
The tone almost everywhere is how these great names were all bit ridiculous, sad, funny, e.g. Kafka's 20 page letter proposing marriage to Felice describing himself as a useless sick man; the Austrian Kaiser's list of 50 or more titles where the bit that made school kids laugh was "etc, etc"; Thomas Mann's rigidly punctilious work rhythm which included a cigarette and a brief word with his children; Alma Mahler's charms which it seems she only applied to major artists. ( )
  vguy | May 4, 2019 |
Provides interesting context to the history of WWI ( )
  francesanngray | Jan 24, 2019 |
Een scheervlucht door het jaar 1913. Niet volledig, niet vrij van gemakzucht, behaagzucht of onnauwkeurigheden (zowel van Illies als van de uitgever/vertaler/redacteur), maar omdat het 1913 is, maakt dat allemaal niet zo heel veel uit. De namen, de gebeurtenissen, de dichtheid van personages en kunstwerken wekken, op gelijk welke manier Illies ze had opgelijst, uit zichzelf al verwondering en bewondering. Het is misschien allemaal wel wat te vrijblijvend - een tikkeltje meer serieux had het boek geen kwaad gedaan (omgekeerd: met wat meer speelsheid kon je hem verwijten David Markson achterna te lopen). ( )
  razorsoccam | Aug 9, 2017 |
This was an engaging read. Illies does a very good job with both his history and his storytelling. Everyone of importance is talked about here. Who was born this year, what artists and writers were doing, what business men and world leaders were planning. Everyone who has or had impact on society is talked about. The way the year is told is as a narrative. The reader goes from one or two lines about what Kafka is dreaming out to two or three pages about who Picasso is sleeping with or running away from. I knew most of the people in this year but not all so now I have more I need to read about. The threat of 1914 is not overwhelming. At times the reader can see where something is going to go wrong but most of what is told is in the moment. Just like we do not know what 2015 will be the people in 1913 really had no idea what was going to come in 1914. Illies makes the book just that about 1913 with really no idea about what is going to happen next. A lot like life.

I give this book a Five out of Five stars. I get nothing for my review and I borrowed this book from my local library. ( )
  lrainey | May 25, 2016 |
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Nom de l'autorCàrrecTipus d'autorObra?Estat
Illies, FlorianAutorautor primaritotes les edicionsconfirmat
Andrae, KarinTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Joly, FrédéricTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Searle, Jamie LeeTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Whiteside, ShaunTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
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This is a moving true account of European society on the brink of war. A witty yet moving narrative worked up from sketched documentary traces and biographical fragments, 1913 is an intimate cultural portrait of a world that is about to change forever. The stuffy conventions of the nineteenth century are receding into the past, and 1913 heralds a new age of unlimited possibility. Kafka falls in love; Louis Armstrong learns to play the trumpet; a young seamstress called Coco Chanel opens her first boutique; Charlie Chaplin signs his first movie contract; and new drugs like cocaine usher in an age of decadence. Yet everywhere there is the premonition of ruin - the number 13 is omnipresent, and in London, Paris, Vienna, Berlin, Trieste, artists take the omen and act as if there were no tomorrow, their brief coincidences of existence telling of a darker future. In a Munich hotel lobby, Rilke and Freud discuss beauty and transience; Proust sets out in search of lost time; and while Stravinsky celebrates the Rite of Spring with industrial cacophony, in Munich an Austrian postcard painter by the name of Adolf Hitler sells his conventional cityscapes. Told with Illies' characteristic mixture of poignant evocation and laconic irony, 1913 is the story of the year that shaped the last century.

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