Among the many, many volumes I inherited from my father’s library is a near-complete collection of the works of Lion Feuchtwanger. No one reads Feuchtwanger these days. As far as I can tell, only one of his books is still in print in English, The Oppermanns (4½ stars on Amazon.com), funnily enough in a translation by someone I know.
But there was a time when Feuchtwanger was devoured by left-wing readers in the US. My father’s library has a lot of books like that. The resonance of Feuchtwanger was brought graphically home to me this weekend, when my family took advantage of a crisp, sunny day to wander around San Francisco’s Telegraph Hill. Coit Tower, at the summit, has a famous set of murals, completed by the Works Progress Administration during the New Deal. There’s a distinct left-wing ethos to these wonderful works, by a number of different artists. Look closely, however, at The Library (above), painted by Baruch Zakheim, and you’ll find many of the authors from my father’s library. Including Feuchtwanger.
I really need to pull one of those volumes down from my shelves and see if the neglected Feuchtwanger holds up well.