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The Eternal Philistine

3.84  ·  Rating Details ·  117 Ratings  ·  15 Reviews
This never-before translated work by a major yet overlooked mid-20th century writer is a brutally funny look at the human comedy on the eve of Europe's decent into Fascism.

It tells the tale of a failed used car salesman who wants to live the high life, and so decides to travel by train from Munich to Barecelona to attend the World's Fair —in hopes of meeting a beautiful, r
Paperback, 224 pages
Published March 27th 2012 by Melville House
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Justin Evans
Jul 29, 2014 Justin Evans rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
A brewery here in the U.S. advertizes its products as if they were deliberately offensive: "It's not too strong, you're too weak" and that kind of thing. That is how this book should advertize itself. Essentially, you are too soppy and pathetic to deal with Horvath's rage, and too conventional and boring to accept the bizarre structure he uses to convey said rage. Because, my friend, you are a philistine.

"The philistine," he tells us, is "an egoist who suffers from hypochondria, and this is why
Aug 17, 2015 Josh rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2015
I tend to like publishers that expose me to authors and/or books that I haven't experienced much less heard of, hence why I'm a big follower of anything NYRB related, so when I came across the 'Neversink' library put out by Melville House Books, I was elated to find a collection that I could follow as well. (I blame all the Simenon books for leading me in that direction!)

With that said, Horvath's 'The Eternal Philistine' is probably not the best place to start if you're new to Neversink territor
May 14, 2012 Jennifer rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, translated, owned
Okay, I will admit it. I was very likely influenced to order this book instead of any other from the Neversink collection because there was a forward written by Shalom Auslander, author of the wickedly awesome collection of short stories, Beware of God. Once I'd read that introduction, I have to say, that if I had picked this book up in a shop somewhere, and skimmed through or read that introduction, I would have been compelled to buy this book immediately, at nearly any cost, no matter the stat ...more
Mike Clinton
Jul 18, 2013 Mike Clinton rated it liked it
This short novel written in 1930 had three sections. The first one took up most of the book and told the story of Kobler, an ex-car salesman on the make, who takes a picaresque journey by train from his home in Munich to the World's Fair in Barcelona, where he expects to find a wealthy "Egyptian" woman - although any nationality will do - who will keep him in luxury once he's placed her in a compromising position by debauching her. The much briefer middle section relates how Anna, an unemployed ...more
Dec 05, 2012 mark rated it it was amazing
This short book tells the story of a German used-car salesman on a train trip to the 1929 Barcelona world's fair, hoping to find there some diversion, mostly in the form of available women. He encounters a journalist also on his way there, with similar ideas. Their misadventures, and their meditations upon the state of the Europe between-the-wars, are both hilarious and prophetic. Don't skip the introduction by Shalom Auslander, it is perhaps even funnier than the book itself.
Dustin Kurtz
Jul 25, 2012 Dustin Kurtz rated it really liked it
The introduction is one of the most forceful, persuasive and damned funny arguments for satire you'll ever read.
The book itself is somehow no less biting even the better part of a century later.
Dec 08, 2015 Matthew rated it really liked it
Shelves: novels-novellas
"Human life," Ödön von Horváth wrote, "is always a tragedy and only in individual episodes is it a comedy."
Set in the political and economical instability of Europe after the First World War and before the rise of Fascism, THE ETERNAL PHILISTINE is an episodic novel that explores both the comic and the tragic.

The novel begins...

"The philistine is, as is generally known, an egoist who suffers from hypochondria, and this is why he seeks, like a coward, to fit in wherever he goes and to distort e
Ermy Rukmana
Feb 21, 2015 Ermy Rukmana rated it really liked it
Shalom Auslander's introduction to this book is definitely one of the better ones I've read. It was extremely witty and enjoyable to read. The novel itself, though short, was also a pleasure to read. The plot was kept simple but the themes and nuances sufficiently profound. One's appreciation of the content may be discounted if one lacks the knowledge of historical background, seeing how this was set post WWI period. Nevertheless, Horvath's writing style is so excellent that I believe any good ...more
Lauren Huibregtse
Feb 09, 2014 Lauren Huibregtse rated it it was amazing
When my friend Shane brought this book to me- he promised it to be a literature "snack". Although the book was short- it was rich with content. Horvath is a brilliant humorist who rote in Germany before World War II and later faced prosecution from the Nazis which forced him to leave his country. His writing is concise and pithy- and an overall joy to read!
Aug 26, 2015 Mark rated it really liked it
Reading this as research, I really did not expect to fall in love with it as much as I did. It's quirky and bold, and Horváth just nails the intersection of economics, politics, and sex. It's a funny, ribald shaggy dog story that ends with just a glimmer of hope.
Mar 17, 2012 Salvatore rated it it was ok
The introduction sets the book up to be a disappointment. A decent, quiet read with memorable and humorous moments. It doesn't go beyond that, and it doesn't need to. But Auslander's intro is a disservice in that regard.
Dec 27, 2012 James added it
Incisive satire of German society on the eve of the Second World War. There are few great German satirist--Heinrich Mann is another--therefore I recommend this book, it's a must read!
Dec 25, 2013 Susu rated it liked it
Reading the German original "Der ewige Spießer"

Ein Blick hinter die Kulisse des Bürgertums - ein bißchen aus der Zeit gefallen. Gelegentlich amüsant, aber vom Sarkasmus bleibt nicht so viel übrig.
Michel Boto
Michel Boto rated it liked it
Sep 28, 2014
Jason Perdue
Jason Perdue rated it really liked it
Oct 03, 2015
Patrick rated it really liked it
Jul 13, 2015
Tracy Soo-Ming
Tracy Soo-Ming rated it really liked it
Jun 30, 2012
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Haley Gray Stonecipher rated it really liked it
Nov 27, 2016
Fenner Macrae
Fenner Macrae rated it it was amazing
Jul 20, 2016
Honkmeier rated it really liked it
Nov 09, 2008
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Jan 27, 2013
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Christina rated it it was amazing
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Ödön von Horváth was a German-writing Austro-Hungarian-born playwright and novelist. Important topics in Horváth's works were popular culture, politics and history. He especially tried to warn of the dawn of fascism and its dangers. Among Horváth's most enduringly popular works, Jugend ohne Gott describes the youth in Nazi Germany from a disgruntled teacher's point of view, who, himself at first ...more
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