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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

Potsdamer Platz

Curt Corrinth

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To purchase Potsdamer Platz

Title: Potsdamer Platz
Author: Curt Corrinth
Genre: Novel
Written: 1919 (Eng. 2021)
Length: 100 pages
Original in: German
Availability: Potsdamer Platz - US
Potsdamer Platz - UK
Potsdamer Platz - Canada
Potsdamer Platz - Deutschland
directly from: Wakefield Press
  • or, The Nights of the New Messiah
  • Ecstatic Visions
  • German title: Potsdamer Platz
  • Translated and with an Introduction by W.C. Bamberger
  • With illustrations by Paul Klee

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Our Assessment:

B : way excessive, but a fun little oddity, in its own way

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
Die Zeit . 21/4/2017 Ulrich Rüdenauer

  From the Reviews:
  • "Sogar den aufgeschlossensten Expressionisten dürfte dieser lautmalerische Exzess, der D-Zug-gleich über jede Seite hinwegdonnert, schon damals etwas überspannt vorgekommen sein. (...) Er übertreibt es mit Inversionen, kitschigem Verkündigungsschwall und seinem großmäuligen Gebrüll dermaßen, dass es in der Übertreibung beim heutigen Lesen schon wieder sehr lustig ist. (...) Ein explosives Buch also, literaturhistorisch interessant, literarisch ein wenig fragwürdig. Bilder- und fantasiereich sind diese Ekstatischen Visionen aber auf jeden Fall, das muss man ihnen lassen." - Ulrich Rüdenauer, Die Zeit

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       Potsdamer Platz promises Ecstatic Visions, and it certainly delivers. Curt Corrinth's short novel is one of almost comic expressionistic excess
       The story is simple: Hans Termaden comes to Berlin from the provinces, gets a taste of (and for) the big city, its freedoms, and, in particular, sex -- and he runs with it. He becomes a Messiah, his guiding principle sexual gratification -- not just above all else, but simply as all. It's not a hard sell: "he created more happiness than any human law was previously able to do".
       His message quickly catches on:

     all, all, all: praising the new covenant of the new messianic world: they blossomed, ardent, toward the higher purpose.
       Everyone flocks to Berlin -- "Express trains thundered, incessantly, the awaking ones to paradise"" --, eager to follow the new true way:
     Paris was depopulated, deserted; London mourned the Queen's abandonment; harems in the Turkish capital crumbled and emptied before sobbing eunuchs [...]
     Berlin, on the other hand, our beautiful stronghold, registered a tenfold increase in population.
       Of course, there are those who can't get with the programme -- and who come to threaten its happy success:
     I name for you the weak-spined, sapless, aged, bloodless, marrow-less, dead to desire. They poisoned, slandered, practiced their antique morality, went on and on, panted, whispered, undermined, raged, swore, bore false witness, stormed about with buckling legs opposing lawful brazen events.
     These were the danger.
       And so, indeed, comes the counter-revolution ..... Can the Messiah triumph over the: "old order, surviving in a corrupted state" ?
       Yes, it's all very over-heated. The initial sexual release leads to a gush and then a torrent -- so also the narrative itself, reflected also in Corrinth's language, the account often a frenzy of words. It's all a bit -- and then much -- too much, but some of this does work well -- not least that first dawning of what sex can be and hold in Termaden's first experiences:
     "I dare ! I want !
     "Berlin, city of my dreams — Europe — the world —: wait, I am coming !! ——
       Corrinth tries to drown the reader in this ecstatic excess, his writing a breathless rapid-fire flood of language twisted solely to these higher, baser purposes:
Hymnic new will boldly set out lived and living truths before the squealing ones, openly giggling and blushing, secretly triggering whirling carnal excitement and lechery-soaked visions.
       Grammar itself is too conventional and rigid for what Corrinth wants to express and convey, and so he constantly pushes against its boundaries and even breaks some of the rules -- an effective technique (ably reproduced in W.C. Bamberger's translation), helped by the fact that Corrinth doesn't take things too far.
       It is all quite ridiculous, too, and, honestly, not really good, even (though it certainly has its moments). But seen in its historical context it is certainly intriguing: Bamberger quotes Otto Karl Werckmeister's observations on the novel in his Introduction, specifically on the (potential) publication-date, and how the book can be seen differently depending on when it is placed: wartime Germany in early 1918 (when it could be seen as: "an act of cautious subversion under the threat of censorship"); the fall of 1919 (when it might be seen as: "a convenient mockery of political failure"); or in between, during the German November Revolution, when it might be seen as a commentary on those events.
       Corrinth's vision of an ultra-decadent Berlin prefigures the Weimar image of the city, suggesting just how much was already bubbling under the surface even in that exhausted, impoverished time immediately after the war; it would seem much more a text from well into the 1920s than 1919.
       Paul Klee's accompanying drawings are the main reason the work is still remembered, and it's good to see these here as well, a neat complement to the story -- capturing much of the unbridled wildness to it (if not so much the sex).
       Potsdamer Platz is a curious work, and it does have the appeal of something taken to absurd extremes, in its language, philosophy, and basic plot. Short and brisk, it doesn't get mired in its own excess (though it can at times seem that excess is all there is to it ...); it does perhaps suffer some from its story being a bit underdeveloped. Still, Corrinth seems very much to have managed what he was going after -- blindingly bright ecstatic visions of a world in which sexual indulgence is the highest and overwhelming guiding principle.

- M.A.Orthofer, 10 June 2021

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Potsdamer Platz: Reviews: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       German author Curt Corrinth lived 1894 to 1960.

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© 2021 the complete review

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