Synopses & Reviews
Written in exile while in flight from the Nazis, this dark, bizarre evocation of everyday life under fascism is available for the first time in thirty years.
An unnamed narrator in an unnamed country is a schoolteacher with “a safe job with a pension at the end of it.” But, when he reprimands a student—“You shouldn’t have said that it doesn’t matter whether the negroes live or die. They’re human too, you know.”—he is accused of “sabotage of the Fatherland.” His students revolt: “We do not wish to be taught by you,” their petition reads. He tries to protect himself, first by retreating into silence, then by mouthing the platitudes of the regime. But when at last he fails to prevent a murder, he finds himself on trial . . . and one of the most reviled of society’s outcasts.
First published in 1939, the year after his tragic death at age 36, von Horváth’s Youth Without God was a harbinger of the brutalizing conformity of the totalitarian state. Its highly stylized characterizations and bizarre plot mirrored the unendurable reality engulfing Europe on the precipice of World War II.
About the Author
Ödön von Horváth (1901–1939) is best known for his important plays, including Tales of the Vienna Woods, and for his novel, The Eternal Philistine. Born in Austria, he fled the Nazis to Paris, were he died when a tree limb struck by lightning hit him as he walked down the Champs-Elysee.