Rheinsberg. A Storybook for Lovers, by Kurt Tucholsky, will be presented today, May 13, at the Deutsches Haus at NYU; 42 Washington Mews, at 7pm, with Noah Eisenberg, Jack Wetherall, any myself. Tucholsky was one of the great writers of the Weimar Republic, a brilliant satirist, poet, storyteller, lyricist, pacifist, and Democrat; a fighter, lady’s man, reporter, and early warner against the Nazis who burned his books, and drove him out of Germany. Erich Kaestner called him a “small, fat Berliner,” who “wanted to stop a catastrophe with his typewriter.”
Rheinsberg, a blueprint for love for an entire generation. was his first novel and a great literary success—with the help of unorthodox marketing: A book bar in Berlin. He is how Tucholsky himself explains it in the preface for a new edition after the 50.000 copy was sold.
We had opened up the “Book Bar” on Kurfürstendamm, student nonsense that annoyed people half to death, because the shop had a polyglot sign in all languages, dead or alive—including mumbling—that cheap books were available within. The genteel clientele received schnapps. The press went beserk. Breslauer Zeitung was against it, whereas Vossische Zeitung endorsed it; Prague and Riga were neutral—we still have the clippings—and the St. Petersburg Herald wrote on December 18, 1912, that those who purchased a Wilde received a whiskey soda, and those who bought an Ibsen got a Nordic corn.And this will be recreated at Deutsches Haus: Buy the book, get a drink (on us). Bring your friends!