Thursday, April 21, 2011

It's all in the nose...

I have been thinking about one of my favourite books this morning the Jewish Czech writer Jiri Weil's wonderful Mendelssohn is on the Roof. Weil's book tells the tale of the Nazi obsession with finding and removing the figure of the Jewish born composer Mendelssohn from the roof of the Prague Opera House. Unfortunately for them the figures on the top of the Opera House have no names attached to them so an SS officer is given the task of finding and then removing the Mendelssohn from the roof. Thinking that it is all in the nose the Nazis believe at one point that they have found the Mendelssohn on the roof and set about removing it. But, irony or ironies, the stature turns out to be Wagner, that inveterate anti-Semite himself, author of the infamous "Das Judenthum in der Musik" (The Jews in Music) which argues that Jews could never be the authors of "true art", and a favourite of Adolf Hitler.

One thing I have been wondering about this morning is if Weil's humourous take on the Holocaust was as controversial as Roberto Benigni's 1997 comedic, dramatic, and tragic film La vita รจ bella (Life is Beautiful) was when it was published in 1960. Did Mendelssohn is on the Roof like Life is Beautiful generate a debate over whether the Shoah, the Holocaust, can be treated comically?

1 comment:

  1. This is the first time I hear of this book, but it sounds great.