Jason Lutes, "Berlin" (Drawn and Quarterly, 2018)

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In his pathbreaking graphic novel, Berlin (Drawn and Quarterly, 2018), Jason Lutes creates a multifaceted exploration of urban life during the Weimar Republic.

The book contains a variety of mostly fictional characters, all of whom capture aspects of the political, cultural, and social life of Berlin during the final years of Germany’s first democratic experiment.

Beautifully drawn, this work provides a compelling alternative to readers used to reading only textual accounts of the period. Much the narrative revolves around two characters: Marthe Müller and Kurt Severing. The former is an art student from Cologne, spending time in Berlin. The latter is a journalist and keen observer of Weimar politics.

The journey of these two characters as well as many others reveals much about the specific situation in Germany during this era as well as elements of the human condition.

The novel appeals not only to the increasing number of graphic book readers, but also to anyone interested in the failure of Weimar democracy, the nature of popular culture during the 1920s, and the history of sexuality.

Michael E. O’Sullivan is Professor of History at Marist College where he teaches courses about Modern Europe. He published Disruptive Power: Catholic Women, Miracles, and Politics in Modern Germany, 1918-1965 with University of Toronto Press in 2018. It was recently awarded the Waterloo Centre for German Studies Book Prize for 2018.

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