Journey to the Abyss: The Diaries of Count Harry Kessler, 1880-1918

Journey to the Abyss The Diaries of Count Harry Kessler These fascinating never before published early diaries of Count Harry Kessler patron museum director publisher cultural critic soldier secret agent and diplomat present a sweeping panorama of t

  • Title: Journey to the Abyss: The Diaries of Count Harry Kessler, 1880-1918
  • Author: Harry Graf Kessler Laird Easton
  • ISBN: 9780307265821
  • Page: 173
  • Format: Hardcover
  • These fascinating, never before published early diaries of Count Harry Kessler patron, museum director, publisher, cultural critic, soldier, secret agent, and diplomat present a sweeping panorama of the arts and politics of Belle poque Europe, a glittering world poised to be changed irrevocably by the Great War Kessler s immersion in the new art and literature of Paris,These fascinating, never before published early diaries of Count Harry Kessler patron, museum director, publisher, cultural critic, soldier, secret agent, and diplomat present a sweeping panorama of the arts and politics of Belle poque Europe, a glittering world poised to be changed irrevocably by the Great War Kessler s immersion in the new art and literature of Paris, London, and Berlin unfolds in the first part of the diaries This refined world gives way to vivid descriptions of the horrific fighting on the Eastern and Western fronts of World War I, the intriguing private discussions among the German political and military elite about the progress of the war, as well as Kessler s account of his role as a diplomat with a secret mission in Switzerland Profoundly modern and often prescient, Kessler was an erudite cultural impresario and catalyst who as a cofounder of the avant garde journal Pan met and contributed articles about many of the leading artists and writers of the day In 1903 he became director of the Grand Ducal Museum of Arts and Crafts in Weimar, determined to make it a center of aesthetic modernism together with his friend the architect Henry van de Velde, whose school of design would eventually become the Bauhaus When a public scandal forced his resignation in 1906, Kessler turned to other projects, including collaborating with the Austrian writer Hugo von Hofmannsthal and the German composer Richard Strauss on the opera Der Rosenkavalier and the ballet The Legend of Joseph, which was performed in 1914 by the Ballets Russes in London and Paris In 1913 he founded the Cranach Presse in Weimar, one of the most important private presses of the twentieth century The diaries present brilliant, sharply etched, and often richly comical descriptions of his encounters, conversations, and creative collaborations with some of the most celebrated people of his time Otto von Bismarck, Paul von Hindenburg, Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Richard Strauss, Igor Stravinsky, Sergei Diaghilev, Vaslav Nijinsky, Isadora Duncan, Ruth St Denis, Sarah Bernhardt, Friedrich Nietzsche, Rainer Marie Rilke, Paul Verlaine, Gordon Craig, George Bernard Shaw, Harley Granville Barker, Max Klinger, Arnold B cklin, Max Beckmann, Aristide Maillol, Auguste Rodin, Edgar Degas, duard Vuillard, Claude Monet, Edvard Munch, Ida Rubinstein, Gabriele D Annunzio, Pierre Bonnard, and Walther Rathenau, among others Remarkably insightful, poignant, and cinematic in their scope, Kessler s diaries are an invaluable record of one of the most volatile and seminal moments in modern Western history.

    One thought on “Journey to the Abyss: The Diaries of Count Harry Kessler, 1880-1918”

    1. A slow, magnificent read. Kessler knew everyone worth knowing in the Europe between 1880 and 1918, and was diligent in keeping an account of his life as both a German and a member of the international culture that knew no boundaries. In the end he was dragged (somewhat willingly) into the disaster of World War I, despite his contempt for the Wilhelmine government. The book is so dense that reading it took weeks. The editorial work is outstanding, and that's part of the problem. The footnotes wil [...]

    2. This book is outstanding - not just a window on a lost world, but a window on one of the most engaging, frustrating, eloquent, enigmatic & admirable human beings to live through some of the most turbulent times in German history. In these diary entries (beautifully translated and annotated by Easton) Kessler's personal diary reveals how he transitions from a reflexively conservative aristocrat to a military nationalist to a socialist, and all the while is a cosmopolitan, a humanitarian, a mo [...]

    3. This book was so rich, so dense, that there really wasn't any point in trying to get through it quickly. So I parceled it out into manageable bits, reading 20 pages a day -- it took me six weeks. But there really was so much to be gained from doing it this way. I felt like I really got to know Kessler, the world that he inhabited, his social circles, and his way of thinking. After I finished up the last page today, I realized that I was a little sad to be leaving someone whose company I had come [...]

    4. The German count was described by W.H. Auden as "probably the most cosmopolitan man who ever lived." Kessler was fluent in English, German, French and Greek and travelled actively through Europe and the Americas while pursuing his art and diplomatic careers.The book is fascinating as an insight into an artistocrat's world. Famous people pop up with stupid ideas (Degas: "Compulsory education is an infamy"); dinner conversations course among people like George Bernard Shaw and Rodin; and great col [...]

    5. Ik heb de versie in Privé-domein gelezen. Heel intrigerend om een beeld te kunnen krijgen van deze tijd en van de vele verschillende domeinen waarin Kessler actief was. Invloedrijke man. Bv. rond Volkenbond, links democratische beweging in de Weimar republiek, bevordering kunst, behouden archief van Nietzsche etc.

    6. i read this slowly over the last few years, and kessler became a friend of sorts. i did not always agree with his arrogant judgements, but he had a beautiful mind. i hope the rest of his diaries are translated. reading such a personal account of WWI in the time of Trump helped shine a light on the uncertain times in the USA right now.

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