In case anybody is curious about the header image, it is photograph of a bookshelf in my parents’ living room. I picked the photo for the vintage bookclub editions with their ornamented leather spines, which simply look a lot prettier than the random paperback assembly on my own shelves. And since the books are obviously forty to fifty year old books in German, it is not very likely that someone might mistake them for the actual books offered for sale here at Pegasus Pulp.
From left to right, you can see three books by German writer Otto Flake, who is forgotten nowadays (due to sympathizing with the Nazis) but was a bestseller in the 1920s and 1930s and admired by writers as famous as Heinrich Mann and Kurt Tucholsky, The Cardinal by Henry Morton Robinson (who also collaborated with Joseph Campbell of hero’s journey fame), several novels by Louis Bromfield (my Mom was a big fan), the Mogador saga by French writer Élisabeth Barbier, the most famous novel by Nicolas de Crosta, two novels by the politically problematic Clemens Laar (another Nazi), a whole bunch of books by Utta Danella who is one of the most popular German writers of the postwar era, The Bastard by Brigitte von Tessin and – only half glimpsed – The Story of San Michele by Swedish doctor and writer Axel Munthe. On the far left, you can also see a dancer figurine that once belonged to my grandma.
By the way, I find it deeply troubling that the biggest German bookclub (their editions are ubiquitous at used book shops and flea markets) was reprinting works by writers who had been Nazis (it may be possible to excuse Flake as an opportunist, but not Laar. Nicolas de Crosta’s novel about the glories of old Prussia is somewhat suspicious as well and the Internet has almost nothing on him) well into the 1950s and 1960s. Especially since many of the younger readers of those days probably had no idea that they were reading former Nazi writers.
My Mom was stunned when I told her that she had books by Nazis on her shelf. She told me that many of the books had been “pick of the month” books pushed by the book club – that’s why she bought them. The books themselves left no impression on her, since she couldn’t remember anything about them.
Still, Germany’s biggest book club of the postwar era – and coincidentally the foundation for one of the so-called Big Six (hey, it’s an indie publishing blog, so I can bash the Big Six on occasion) – was actively pushing books by potential Nazis.