Tromøy, Norway: 1939. Octavo (20.5cm.); contemporary blue cloth, upper cover lettered in gilt, decorative endpapers; 145,pp. typed on rectos only. Cloth very slightly worn, spine a hint sunned, shallow loss to front free endpaper fore-edge, shallow creasing to three leaves, else Very Good or better. Occasional autograph corrections in the author's hand throughout.
German-born author, poet, editor, and translator, Max Barth began his career as an editor of the pacifist socialist paper Sonntags-Zeitung before founding his own radical socialist paper Die Richtung, in 1932 at Stuttgart. The paper only survived a few issues before being confiscated by the Nazi-infiltrated Stuttgart populace the following year after which Barth fled to Switzerland. Found guilty of "High Treason" by the Third Reich, Barth found himself exiled, making his way to Norway, from which this collection was compiled, and finally the United States where he remained until after the end of World War II.
The present collection consists of seventy poems written between 1919 and 1939, including some previously unpublished, selected for the author's sister and preceded by a letter of introduction addressed to her ("Li Fri") and signed in manuscript "Max." In the letter Barth explains that the collection was compiled entirely with her in mind and includes certain pieces dear to him despite their lesser literary quality. In a final postscript the author notes that in the poem "Abseits," he has rhymed the word "Fjord" with "Spur" because the word "Fjord" in Norwegian is pronounced "Fjur." The letter is dated September 1, 1939, the day the Germans invaded Poland, leading France and Britain to declare war on Germany two days later, thus marking the start of World War II. The author was certainly unaware of such developments, as no mention is made to the catastrophic events simultaneously unfolding.
Reference: John M. Spalek and Joseph Strelka, eds. Deutschsprachige Exilliteratur seit 1933, Vol. 2 (1989), pp. 24-37.