Hermann Kesten an Klaus Mann
New York, NY, 16. April 1944
Original: Monacensia. Literaturarchiv und Bibliothek. München, mit freundlicher Genehmigung von Marian Houston Strauss.
April 16, 1944
New York City, 50 West 77th Str.
Dear Klaus Mann,
it was a great pleasure to get your good letter and a strange sensation to get mail again from Europe, our poor old Dame Europa, raped by gods lately born in the dungeon. A propos old ladies, (but totally unraped) Annette Kolb was complaining that you forgot her completely. Our "heart of Europe" was rather a mediocre success, L. B. Fischer sold about 6000 or 7000 copies. The reviews were very big, the New York Times printed two reviews, one by Prescott, one by Chamberlain, on 2 successive days, we got big reviews, but not always very great ones. Sigrid Undset in Herald Tribune complained, Norway wasn't good represented, Weiskopf and others wrote, it was awfully bad, that we didn't print Seghers, Feuchtwanger, Becher. N.Y. Times complained about Emil Ludwig, Herald Tribune about Arnold Zweig; Harry Hansen called you a great Mann with a great future, Sterling North and Chicago Tribune (!) wrote the two best reviews. Maybe we get some pennies, if L. B. Fischer will sell second rights to Garden City (Doubleday Doran).
I feel highly flattered that you are finding out, in reading Voltaire, where I plucked my best plums. Reading Voltaire and Stendhal is really a good war job, beside the other one which you are doing. It is one of my most cherished wishes to meet you again in our beloved city of New York. My second best wish is, to meet you again in the Rue des St. Pères in our beloved and free city of Paris.
I am promising you, I will be more tender against you as against my wife; when she arrived in this country, from the concentration camp of Gurs, she wanted to tell me a hundred stories from her concentration camp; but I, who read 300–900 novels about concentration camps, as I was a reader for Allert de Lange, did not listen to her artless little stories. For your sake, I am not reading new war novels now, I am impatiently awaiting your eye witness story.
I finished my biography about Copernicus, and I returned to my old unfinished novel about two twins (or twice twins?). In the meantime everybody's books are becoming selections of the Book of the Month's club, my publishers Kister Polish-Catholic novel about St. Francis of Assisi, Konrad Heiden, your father...everybody is getting rich except Sgt. Klaus Mann and your obedient and faithful friend Hermann Kesten.
P.S. A Roman friend of Galilei wrote to him: "Write freely, but not about the Sacristy." I am obeying to this clever advice, but I am asking you, write freely, and often to your most obedient very old friend It seems to me that I enjoyed last January my 80th birthday instead of my 70th.