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Grand Hotel

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  696 ratings  ·  85 reviews
A grand hotel in the center of 1920s Berlin serves as a microcosm of the modern world in Vicki Baum’s celebrated novel, a Weimar-era bestseller that retains all its verve and luster today. Among the guests of the hotel is Dr. Otternschlag, a World War I veteran whose face has been sliced in half by a shell. Day after day he emerges to read the paper in the lobby, discreetl ...more
Paperback, 270 pages
Published June 7th 2016 by NYRB Classics (first published 1929)
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3.77  · 
Rating details
 ·  696 ratings  ·  85 reviews

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“The revolving door turns and turns and turns.”

Through the revolving doors of the Grand Hotel in Berlin many people come and go. According to Georgi behind the reception desk: “Marvelous the life you see in a big hotel like this, he was thinking. Marvelous. Always something going on.”

At present* some of the guests include:
- Doctor Otternschlag the severely scarred war veteran who never fails to ask whether there are any letters for him, and who never receives any.
- The ballet dancer Madame Gru
Sep 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
Quick, enchanting read about life in a Berlin hotel in the fading glory of the Weimar era. With the visual descriptions and long monologues, it seemed almost made for a film adaptation.
Jan 25, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adultlit
I pulled this old rebound book off the library's shelves just to see whether a novel this old would be interesting, and surprisingly it was. Interwoven stories of hotel denizens is a now-classic plot, but this 1920s German novel must have been one of the first. Good points: it was an authentic glimpse of Berlin at a time when the Gedaechtniskirche still gleamed white in the electric lights. The story remains fresh because Baum shows rather than tells what is happening: the sights, the smells, th ...more
Jun 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to read this book for quite some time but recently I stumbled upon it on my grandmas bookshelf. It's a copy from 1952 and therefore smells exactely like that. I borrowed it and truly enjoyed the read and the "time travel" to a Berlin Hotel during the jazz-age, despite the mouldy odour ;)

Vicky Baum has a nice writing style, I really appreciated the plenty neologisms which made me laugh from time to time. At some points it became almost philosophical and definitly critical in regards to
Already a more than adequate synopsis on offer so no point in rehashing. Thoroughly enjoyed this little known novel from the wonderful New York Review Books Classics list.

A handful of characters here but they are so well portrayed and the atmosphere and mood of the novel does take the reader into the Grand Hotel in Berlin in the 1920's. The Grand Hotel that is no longer quite as grand as the name implies. There were a few surprises along the way regarding the characters and their motives, all is
In einem Grand Hotel im Berlin der Zwanziger Jahre leben unterschiedlichste Gäste: ein versehrter, depressiver Arzt, eine alternde russische Primaballerina, der Generaldirektor einer Textilfirma, der ein gewagtes Spiel treibt, ein gutaussehender Baron, der alle Herzen für sich gewinnt, aber nicht das ist, was er zu sein scheint, ein Hilfsbuchhalter, der nur noch wenige Wochen zu leben hat und seine Ersparnisse draufhauen will, um noch zu erfahren, wie das gute Leben sich anfühlt. Anhand dieser P ...more
Jan 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Although she described herself as "a first-rate second-rate author," Vicki Baum's Grand Hotel is actually quite a bit better than that. Baum managed to parlay the novel into a 1932 blockbuster starring Greta Garbo, John and Lionel Barrymore, Joan Crawford, Wallace Beery and a host of supporting stars.

Baum tried to reprise her success with Grand Hotel by writing a number of other novels, but none of them quite hit the mark. Still, the one novel for which she is known has some nice characterizati
Jun 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
June 2016 NYRB Book Club Selection.

Baum's book is a slow start. It took me awhile to get into it. But then when you get to the ballerina and the thief, it is so beautiful. What is amazing, in some aspects, is how little things have changed.
Menschen im Hotel,
published 1929
Vicki Baum (1888-1960)

“Grand Hotel," would be the name by which this work would have reached worldwide fame.
This is the name of the movie created after her novel.

If movies are the crown of entertainment, so this book is most of all a book of entertainment.
The witty, intricate construction of the following events have become a model of the kind.

At the beginning of the twentieth century, the Grand Hotel in Berlin was the most luxurious and expensive hotel in the
Kathrin Passig
Jan 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Kathrin by: Vicki Baum, Philipp Albers
In ihrer Autobiografie "Es war alles ganz anders" schreibt Vicki Baum über dieses Buch: "Schön, dachte ich bei mir, machen wir mal ein kleines Experiment. Nehmen wir mal die abgedroschensten Situationen, nehmen wir die abgedroschensten Figuren, stecken wir in jede ein Lichtlein, das sie von innen erhellt, durchsichtig macht, zu einem Menschen macht." Und das funktioniert auch. Es ist so erholsam, wenn Romanfiguren Menschen sein dürfen und nicht Schurken sein müssen.
James Murphy
Jun 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This isn't the kind of book I would have walked through a bookstore and selected. I knew of it but associated it with the 1932 Hollywood film and with the style of movies of the period one might say is stilted and long out of date. But the book came to me through my New York Review of Books subscription. I let it age on my shelf over a year before I dived into it. What I found is an engaging work of modernism written in naturalistic prose which vividly sketches characters as physical figures inh ...more
Aug 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
Grand Hotel is set in the post World-War One world of the Weimar era. Berlin of the 1920’s, and here we meet a host of remarkably well drawn characters, who are explored in astute and searching detail.
Through the revolving doors of the Grand Hotel come all kinds; the war damaged, the dying, beautiful ageing ballerina, businessman, thief. The hotel exists to provide the very best of everything for their guests, and yet there is a feeling that like some of its guests, the hotel’s best days are in
Actual rating: 3.50
Feb 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I received a review copy of this title from NYRB classics.

The Grand Hotel is the place to stay for anyone who wishes to be surrounded by luxury and high society in 1920’s Berlin. The guests that have all checked into the hotel in March of 1929 are an interesting mix of misfits whose stories all collide in a cleverly intertwined plot.

The first character to whom we are introduced is Dr. Otternschlag. He sits for hours each day reading the paper and watching people go in and out of the revolving do
Aug 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My favorite read this year so far. A charming slice of life narrative set in a hotel in interwar Germany which bring a multitude of colorful characters together for a brief moment in an intertwined web that changes them in various ways. Very thankful for the NYRB classics list for this gem.
Jun 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
"For, long or short, Life is what you put into it. Two full days may be longer than forty empty years."
Dec 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Character Study

This book started off very slowly for me. I read maybe the first thirty pages and wasn’t too inspired to continue, except that I was reading it to complete a reading challenge. There was a lot of set up and a lot of description of the various characters in the hotel. However, once things start happening, they happen with a bang. I hadn’t at all anticipated that ending. It’s surprising to look back and realize the action takes place in just two days, framed by the beginning of labo
Aug 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018-read, nyrb, novels
I was drawn to this because of a familiarity with Greta Garbo’s Oscar-winning film version (the one Jack Lemmon tries and fails to watch for anyone who knows ‘The Apartment'), I’d also read about Vicki Baum, an Austrian-Jewish writer who moved to America initially to work on the ‘Grand Hotel’ screenplay, after her novel became a runaway hit: a move which ended up saving her life when her work was later classified as ‘degenerate’ by the National Socialist regime. 'Grand Hotel, published in 1929, ...more
May 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
Last semester, when I worked with a World War II history class, I quickly learned how little the students knew about the interwar period in Germany. As far as they knew, it was World War I, Treaty of Versailles, Hitler, World War II. A few knew about the Weimar period, but no one had a really good idea of ordinary life at the time. Even though the professor frowned on fiction, I wish I could have snuck the students a few novels to help them understand. Grand Hotel, by Vicki Baum (translated by B ...more

Because I need to know: is one of cinema's most immortal quotes actually in the novel?
Sep 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Set in the glittering world that was Berlin in the 1920’s, this book was the basis for the 1939 blockbuster film starring Greta Garbo, John and Lionel Barrymore, and Joan Crawford.

I’ve yet to see the movie and I’m curious to find out whether its stellar cast comes close to capturing what made each of the characters in this novel come to life – the aging and lonely Russian ballerina diva,Grusinskaya, who is lamenting her lost youth; the charming and elegant young Baron von Gaigern, whose conscie
Lo primero que tengo que comentar es cómo de curiosa fue la adquisición de este libro, puesto que algún desalmado lo había dejado abandonado, junto con otros, al lado del contenedor de reciclado de papel... No puedo creer que alguien intente deshacerse de libros de esta manera; aunque bueno, le agradezco que lo haya hecho porque así yo he podido recogerlo y descubrir esta historia.
Una historia ambientada en el Grand Hotel de Berlín, uno de los hoteles más lujosos del mundo. Magistralmente escrit
Jul 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Babylon Berlin fans
Shelves: fiction, favorites
I was quite surprised by Vicki Baum's Grand Hotel. I was expecting, with its high-end Berlin hotel and multiple characters, some sort of Jazz Age version of an Arthur Hailey novel. Not so. Grand Hotel, IMHO, should be regarded as one of the modernist classics. Yes, it's accessible, but it's definitely literary fiction. Published in 1929, made into play in 1930, and finally a star-studded film in 1932, it told a story of what would turn out to be a Germany on the brink. If you're into Cabaret, Be ...more
Daniel Polansky
The lives of a handful of characters in Weimar Berlin’s finest hotel, this just did not do anything for me at all. The prose is…fine, I mean nothing one way or the other, but the characters are real stock—an aging ballerina, a gentleman thief, a nebbishy clerk with a fatal illness who decides to blow all his remaining money on learning to live before he dies – I couldn’t detect an actual human being anywhere in the bunch. Hokey, man, real hokey, Library but I’d drop.
Introduction, by Noah Isenberg

--Grand Hotel
Joel Fishbane
Long out of print (even the reprint is out of print), Vicki Baum's Grand Hotel is mostly forgotten except to librarians, famed only to lovers of old films (two versions were made) and musicals (a Tommy Tune directed version appeared on Broadway in 1989). The novel itself seems to have been swept from our cultural memory and this is unfortunate: it remains a tightly conceived story of six disparate characters and the way their fates intertwine over the course of two days at the eponymous hotel. B ...more
Aug 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to JacquiWine by: Guy
First published in German in 1929, Grand Hotel is Austrian writer Vicki Baum’s best-known work. Following its initial success, this charming novel was quickly adapted for the stage, and subsequently for the cinema screen, with significant input from Baum herself – the film adaptation (which I have yet to see) features Greta Garbo, Joan Crawford and the Barrymore brothers, amongst others.

The setting for the novel is the Grand Hotel in Berlin, an establishment which endeavours to furnish its resid
Dec 04, 2017 rated it it was ok
Took me months to finish. Thought I would like it more than I did, since always interested in cultural depictions of interwar Germany, but reading this was at times excruciating. The second half was much better than the first, but every scene with Grusinskaya (the role played by Greta Garbo in the 1931 film) was torture.
Feb 18, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Something I enjoy from time to time is reading the original novels upon which famous films were based (VERTIGO, THE LODGER, WRITTEN ON THE WIND, IMITATION OF LIFE) - so, I'm finally getting around to GRAND HOTEL. As the back cover proclaims,

"These are some of the men and women of the GRAND HOTEL: A beautiful ballerina to whom love is no less an art than dancing . . . a lovely and ingenuous peasant girl (with a fixed price on her charms) . . . a respectable business tycoon, caught in the web of
Ehrlich gesagt, hatte ich mir von Baums "Menschen im Hotel" bei weitem mehr versprochen. Obwohl es sich noch recht interessant anlas, zog sich die Handlung allmählich wie Gummi bis zur letzten Seite. Baum verwendete meinem Geschmack nach zu viele unnötige Worte, wodurch sie regelmäßig den Erzählfluss zum Stocken brachte und den dramaturgischen Aufbau immer wieder behinderte. Ihre Figuren bekommen zwar jedweilige Gelegenheit, uns ihre Gedanken und Gefühle mitzuteilen, sei es durch direkte oder in ...more
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NYRB Classics: Grand Hotel, by Vicki Baum 24 61 Aug 02, 2016 09:03AM  
How does the movie compare? 1 5 Aug 23, 2012 06:28AM  
Favorite Character 1 3 Aug 23, 2012 06:27AM  
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Vicki Baum (penname of Hedwig Baum) was born in a Jewish family in Vienna, Austria. She moved to the United States in 1932 and when her books were banned in the Third Reich in 1938, she started publishing in English. She became an American citizen in 1938 and died in Los Angeles, in 1960.
“He who does not move with the times is a dead man” 7 likes
“The real thing is always going on somewhere else. When you’re young you think it will come later. Later on you think it was earlier. When you are here, you think it is there—in India, in America, on Popocatepetl or somewhere. But when you get there, you find that life has doubled back and is quietly waiting here, here in the very place you ran away from. It is the same with life as it is with the butterfly collector and the swallowtail. As you see it flying away, it is wonderful. But as soon as it is caught, the colors are gone and the wings bashed.” 1 likes
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