Notes: The Blue Danube can best be described as a gentle satire of Nazi Germany, belonging somewhere on the continuum of works about the Second World War with Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-5 and Mel Brooks' The Producers. He treats the horrors in a completely deadpan fashion. Residents are sent to Dachau in purely administrative fashion with "the usual notifications." A deposed party official's suicide is interrupted by his replacement seeking to buy his pre-war uniform made of good cloth and his gun; a boatful of school children who drown as the result of a Nazi party scheme don't get a second thought from the organizers, one of whom Bemelmans calls "the animal with a voice."
The novel is set behind the front lines in Regensburg, where Bemelmans grew up (he was born in a French-speaking part of Austria that is now in Italy; English was his third language after French and German). "For most of those at home—the women, the old men, for the unbelievers—hope had run away like a thief in the night. They sat alone in their cold rooms, tight-lipped lest that doubt and fear that ran furiously through their brains, like a thousand squirrels in cages, should spill into the street."
153 pages. Illustrated with 14 full-page color plates of Bemelmans' watercolors. Bemelmans is best-known for the Madeline series of picture books.
Edition + Condition: First edition (first printing, with no indication of later printings). A very good copy (cloth spotted) in a very good dust jacket with shallow chipping at the top of the spine. This copy is inscribed, "To Alice with love from Ludwig, March 1945." Uncommon signed.
Publication: New York: Viking Press, 1945.
Item No: #296192