Joseph Bauke (review date 8 October 1966)
SOURCE: Bauke, Joseph. “Inferno Revisited.” Saturday Review 49, no. 41 (8 October 1966): 106-07.
[In the following review, Bauke describes reading Attendance List for a Funeral as a sobering and enlightening experience.]
In the last five or six years German literature has made the comeback for which readers in and outside Germany had been waiting since the fall of the Third Reich. Günter Grass and Jakov Lind, above all, have revived a language that seemed all but dead and unfit for any artistic purposes, after the uses to which it was put under Hitler. In their work these authors descend into the hell of the past and reflect their vision of it in a profusion of surrealistic images that has compelled the attention of audiences in many countries. In his collection of short stories, Attendance List for a Funeral, Alexander Kluge demonstrates that there are other ways of exorcising the evil spirits of an era.
Kluge, born in 1932, was too young to experience the Nazi years consciously; but, like many of his generation, he is profoundly concerned with the sins committed by the fathers. A lawyer by profession, he writes with a precision and a detachment rather rare in the German tradition. In these stories about the paths of people under Nazism there are no verbal cascades, no intellectual fireworks, no expressionist flights into the absolute. Instead, we have a prose as reasoned and as dispassionate as a lawyer's brief. In one of the stories, a superb piece about the career of an academic, Kluge resorts to lengthy footnotes to underscore his quest for the factual.
Sometimes the tendency to documentation is mannered and...
(The entire section is 708 words.)