Saturday, September 8, 2018

Ken Krimstein's witty and profound graphic novel THE THREE ESCAPES OF HANNAH ARENDT

A Thinking Woman's Icon, HANNAH ARENDT, celebrated in Ken Krimstein's witty and profound 
new graphic novel. THE THREE ESCAPES OF HANNAH ARENDT: A Tyranny of Truth (Bloomsbury September)

I read Hannah Arendt's book Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil, about the former vacuum cleaner salesman, German Nazi SS-Obersturmbannf├╝hrer and one of the major organizers of the Holocaust. He made sure the trains to the gas chambers ran on time packed with passengers. Arendt's account of his trial was a stunning inquiry into the man and the political system he served. Her coverage was controversial, because she depicted not a monster, but a man frighteningly average. 

Ahrendt was an intellectual, a brilliant philosopher, when she fled from Hitler's  terror--from Germany to Paris, from Paris to America.  Coincidentally, it was The New Yorker who asked her to report on the Eichmann Trial and it's the New Yorker cartoonist, Ken Krimstein, who with great intellectual insight and humor, has recreated her life's journey.. Here is the young girl concerned with truth, the young woman obsessed with ultimate truth and Heidigger, her professor--the great philosopher who became compromised by his support of the Nazis. Hannah's ability to assess reality, allows her to stay ahead of her pursuers. Eventually, renowned in New York, she publishes her major  work as a political theorist, The Origins of Totalitarianism.  

In the time of Trump this book, originally published in the 1950s, has again become a bestseller. Ahrendt's thought is, uncompromising and inspired. Krimstein shows us thought as an art form and where it leads her is inspiring. I have read Krimstein's graphic novel twice. It is beautiful, smart, funny, as well as educational. The people she met and socialized with were worlds unto themselves.  Painters, musicians, theorists, filmakers, writers; a glimpse of exiting film director Bertolt Brecht in Germany, Dietrich and Chagall in France, Rothko and Saul Bellow in New York. Krimstein draws parties, soirees, salons and footnotes all these people. You get a sense of her circles--who these people were and how they thought. History is alive and great fun. Congrats to Krimstein for bringing this story to life.  Serious fun. 

S.W.