I Shall Bear Witness

(by Victor Klemperer) Despite some confusing Anne Frank with a Nazi (see: Rijksmuseum moments), her diary is mandatory reading and so should be this diary of German Jewish academic, Victor Klemperer. He lived in Germany throughout the Nazi reign and this volume, covering 1933 to 1941, reveals the incremental march to holocaust. Each little step led to the next and so on, quickening in pace: May ’33: Klemperer can still lecture in Romance languages and literature at Dresden but he complies with a ‘request’ to no longer conduct exams; by May ’35, he is dismissed from his post; by October…

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God’s Funeral

Hardy is dead, but is God?

(by A.N. Wilson) A beautiful & rich review of Victorian and Edwardian thinking, as God’s life support was unplugged and how later generations may come, in time, to feel the need to apply resuscitation. As Kenneth Clark observed, heroic materialism and Marxism aren’t enough. We need something more.

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The Glass Bead Game

(by Hermann Hesse) Hesse’s ideation of his own life as a monk is a heavy but worthwhile read.

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Elmer Gantry

(dir. Richard Brooks) (1960) Dr Gantry sets aside his unwanted toasters and vacuum cleaners and returns to where he belongs, in the evangelical business.  A sprawling, gargantuan rendering of Sinclair Lewis’ novel, with giant performances, particularly Lancaster as Elmer, Jean Simmons as Sister Falconer, Shirley Jones as Ms Baines and Arthur Kennedy as the journalist following the big tent.  “It wasn’t really acting” quoth Burt Lancaster of his performance, “It was me”.

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Dogville

(dir. Lars von Trier) (2003) Before he developed a cinematic messiah complex and turned out stuff such as Melancholia, Trier did some intriguing and dramatically satisfying work. If viewers can overlook staginess, this film is a gem, an Arthur-Miller-meets-Eugene-O’Neill tour in hell, with great turns by a really interesting cast. Not for all tastes. Ms Kidman’s momentous philosophical discussion with Mr Caan at finale a highlight.

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