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    The Best of the Best: Books 2023


    December 28, 2023

    19 min reading time

    Nell Zink, writer

    Given the occasion, I took it Bertha von Suttner’s “Launch your weapons!” in an antique store. Nobody recommended it to me because nobody in my circle of friends had read it. The friend, who received her doctorate as part of the Tübingen Collaborative Research Center “Experiences of War,” also suspected sentimentality mixed with outdated war atrocities.

    But over time I have come to the conclusion that books that I like are not read by anyone precisely because of their left-wing critical content, or that reactionary books are extremely well received precisely because of their intellectual passivity. Works that eliminate the loneliness of existence are most appreciated; Books full of thoughts that could be your own. And perhaps, for most people, this condition is actually better fulfilled by Houellebecq’s “Submission” than by Tolstoy’s “Resurrection.”

    Humanity leaves much to be desired. But not me! So I think Dos Passos is a thousand times better than Céline, as woke as that may sound. In my opinion, a rigorous ethical-aesthetic sensitivity is underrated. So I started reading and discovered that Suttner has an excellent command of the novel form.

    The plot goes like this: Shortly after completing the song cycle, the first-person narrator of Schumann’s “Women’s Love and Life” (that’s pretty much how she comes across) falls in love with a disillusioned Prussian officer who shares her opposition to the war. Then there is a discussion like Turgenev or Dostoyevsky. Her life becomes a passionate plea for sensuality. “You are not allowed to report anything about your love joys; “We don’t know anything about our wartime suffering,” the Prussian once complained. Little by little, the lovers demand international arbitration courts, university peace studies, etc. The book was published in 1889. At least we now have the EU.

    Berta von Suttner: Put down your weapons!  Petersberg, Königswinter 2022. 399 pages, 9.95 euros.

    Berta von Suttner: Put down your weapons! Petersberg, Königswinter 2022. 399 pages, 9.95 euros.

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