The Eternal Philistine

The Eternal Philistine

An Edifying Novel in Three Parts

By Odon Von Horvath; Benjamin Dorvel (Translator); Shalom Auslander (Introduction by)

Melville House Publishing, Paperback, 9781935554479, 162pp.

Publication Date: March 27, 2012

This never-before translated work by a major yet overlooked mid-20th century writer is a brutally funny look at the human comedy on the eve of Europe's decent into Fascism.
It tells the tale of a failed used car salesman who wants to live the high life, and so decides to travel by train from Munich to Barecelona to attend the World's Fair -- in hopes of meeting a beautiful, rich woman who will provide for his every whim.
It's a highly-stylized and, at times, raucously funny tale of the almost-absurd: a dark and satiric look at Europeans, and especially Germans, on the brink of cataclysm. Adrift in their acquisitive desires, they are vulnerable to the propaganda of the State -- making this novel brilliantly foresightful in its understanding of politics and human nature at a crucial point in modern history.
odon von Horvath's scathing insight, in fact, led to his having to flee the very society he depicted when, living in Berlin, he drew the wrath of the Nazis. And yet this hilarious tour-de-force -- written just after his escape, and just before his death in a tragic accident -- eschews bitterness for rambunctious perseverance and compassion, and provides ample evidence of why von Horvath deserves renewed appreciation.

About the Author

Shalom Auslander was raised in Monsey, New York. Nominated for the Koret Award for writers under thirty-five, he has published articles in "Esquire", "The New York Times Magazine", "Tablet", "The New Yorker", and has had stories aired on NPR's "This American Life". Auslander is the author of the novel Hope: A Tragedy, the short story collection "Beware of God", and the memoir "Foreskin's Lament". He lives in New York. To learn more about Shalom Auslander, please visit

Praise For The Eternal Philistine


"Ödön von Horváth was a brilliant German writer. . . .He makes the truth irresistable."
—Edmund Wilson

“Horváth had turned his back on the mournful realism of the émigrés, with their passion for easy caricature and their desire for revenge. He had realized with extraordinary acuteness that to meet the horror of reality with a horror literature was no lon- ger possible or useful; that the reality of Fascism was in fact so overwhelming and catastrophic that no realism, particularly the agonized naturalism of the twentieth century, could do it justice.” 
—Alfred Kazin

“The most gifted writer of his generation.”
—Stefan Zweig

“Horváth is better than Brecht.”
—Peter Handke

“One of the best Austrian writers ... In every line of his prose there is an unmistakable hatred for the kind of German philis- tinism that made the German murder, the Third Reich, possible.”
—Joseph Roth

“The most gifted of the young dramatists, and above and beyond the brightest mind. . . .” 
—Carl Zuckmayer

“These works remain steps. But they lead to great heights.” 
—Franz Werfel