Why Germany of all places? A hundred years ago there were many good reasons for English writers to cross the Channel and travel along the Rhine, spend a few weeks in Berlin, tour the island of Rügen, or visit the famous health resort of Bad Wörishofen. Taking the waters at a spa never did anyone any harm, particularly if it was likely to include the occasional amorous digression far away from your strait-laced home country. These adventures have been immortalised in the novels of Elizabeth von Armin and Katherine Mansfield. Wolfgang Kemp is the first to collate the experiences of literary men from England who came to Germany in the first half of the 20th century, and he made some amazing discoveries along the way. His book tells the story of a complex relationship: while Germany held an irresistible fascination for its British guests, it remained foreign territory to them. Stephen Spender, Christopher Isherwood, W.H. Auden, Ezra Pound and Samuel Beckett – from their works we can glean a picture of life in Germany at the time, one that is only possible from an external perspective.
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