In his 1929 travel guide “How to Be Happy in Berlin”, John Chancellor posed a question that has preoccupied English authors for more than a hundred years – with a wide variety of answers and far-reaching cultural impact. more
In addition to W. H. Auden, Christopher Isherwood and Stephen Spender, the famous triumvirate whose texts and film adaptations laid the foundation for the myth of Berlin, lesser-known voices also played a role: Freud’s translator Alix Strachey, who wrote a wealth of lively letters from Berlin to her husband James in London. The ambassador’s wife Helen D`Abernon, who describes in her memoirs the social misery of Berlin after the First World War as well as the lavish parties in the British embassy. Or the pro-fascist avant-garde author Wyndham Lewis, who first succumbed to a fascination with Hitler in Berlin and railed against Berlin`s sexual permissiveness in the Weimar Republic. The bilingual and richly illustrated book accompanying the exhibition of the same name traces the many traces of these and many other authors. At the same time, it explains how male authors in particular actively created the myth of Berlin and the places where this took place, which was processed into highly ambivalent images of Berlin in English letters, novels, memoirs, travel guides and diaries. This myth continues to have an effect today and is echoed in the works of contemporary English-language authors who have sought out Berlin as a place of refuge after Brexit.