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Max Brod, "Women and the New Objectivity" (1929)

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The young writers see only the quotidian—the document, the photograph, the report—objectivity, beyond which there is nothing to conquer, behind which there is no meaning to be sought. Religious interpretation of any kind appears to them an illusion. (Thus the clear distance between the New Objectivity and the older realism of, for example, Gerhart Hauptmann.) Modern authors fear nothing like they fear illusions. Through illusions we were dragged into war. To abstain from an affirmation of daily life, to see it in its utter hideousness, chaos, immorality—such a posture seems to carry the force of a law. From daily life, regarded as the only reality, behind which there is nothing more real, more benevolent, more loving (more womanly), one can seek distance only through humor and irony. Accordingly, irony becomes the single artistic tool of the youngest generation. In writing as in music.

[ . . . ]

Insofar as the content of the New Objectivity includes the destruction of false glorification, it should fulfill its function to the utmost. For from this perspective it is a new impetus and a true beginning, a justified protest of the young against the war -makers and despots who remain at the helm, the outcry and last hope of humanity. But if objectivity means Americanization, a refusal of the heart, of problems, of love, then it is not a protest against war but rather against its result, its continuation and, finally (see the recent German production of Maxwell Anderson’s What Price Glory?), its approbation. It will be the task of the woman of tomorrow, full of instinct and cleverness, to distinguish the good components of the New Objectivity from the bad. In this task I see her significance, not simply for man and the masculine spirit (which, for the moment, is racing up a dead-end street with its masculine writing), but for the development of a genuine society, one no longer based on exploitation, but rather a true community of nations.

Source of English translation: Max Brod, “Women and the New Objectivity,” in The Weimar Republic Sourcebook, edited by Anton Kaes, Martin Jay, and Edward Dimendberg. © 1994 Regents of the University of California. Published by the University of California Press, pp. 205-06.

Source of original German text: Max Brod, “Die Frau und die neue Sachlichkeit,” in Die Frau von Morgen wie wir wünschen, edited by F.M. Huebner. Leipzig: Verlag E.A. Seemann, 1929, pp. 38-48.

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