George Sylvester Viereck

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George Sylvester Viereck
George Sylvester Viereck cph.3b27115.jpg
Portrait of Viereck, by Underwood & Underwood, 1922
Born George Sylvester Viereck
(1884-12-31)31 December 1884
Munich, Germany
Died 18 March 1962(1962-03-18) (aged 77)
Holyoke, Massachusetts
Occupation Journalist, Novelist, Essayist
Genres Poetry

George Sylvester Viereck (December 31, 1884, Munich, Germany – died March 18, 1962, Holyoke, Massachusetts) was a German-American poet, writer, and propagandist.[1]

Biography[edit]

George Viereck was born in Germany, to a German father and American-born mother. His father Louis, born out of wedlock to German actress Edwina Viereck, was reputed to be a son of Kaiser Wilhelm I. Another relative of the Hohenzollern family assumed legal paternity of the boy. In the 1870s, Louis Viereck joined the Marxist socialist movement. George Viereck began writing poetry when he was eleven. His heroes were Jesus Christ, Napoleon Bonaparte, and Oscar Wilde. In 1896, Louis Viereck emigrated to the United States; his U.S.-born wife Laura and their twelve-year-old son George followed in 1897.

While still in college, in 1904, George Sylvester Viereck, with the help of literary critic Ludwig Lewisohn, published his first collection of poems.[2] He graduated from the College of the City of New York in 1906. The next year his collection Nineveh and Other Poems (1907) won Viereck national fame. A number were written in the style of the Uranian male love poetry of the time.[3] The Saturday Evening Post called Viereck "the most widely-discussed young literary man in the United States today".[4]

Between 1907 and 1912, Viereck turned into a Germanophile. In 1908, he published the best-selling Confessions of a Barbarian. Viereck lectured at the University of Berlin on American poetry in 1911.[5] For his support of Germany and pacifism, Viereck was expelled from several social clubs and fraternal organizations.[6][7] In August 1918, a lynch mob stormed Viereck's house in Mount Vernon, forcing him to seek refuge in a New York City hotel.[8] In 1919, shortly after the Great War, he was expelled from the Poetry Society of America.[9]

In 1923, Viereck published a popular-science book entitled Rejuvenation: How Steinach Makes People Young, which drew the attention of Sigmund Freud,[10] who wrote Viereck asking of he would write a similar book about psychoanalysis. Viereck traveled to Vienna to interview Freud, and then went to Munich to interview Adolf Hitler.[11] During the mid-1920s, Viereck went on several additional tours of Europe, interviewing Marshal Foch, Georges Clemenceau, George Bernard Shaw, Oswald Spengler, Benito Mussolini, Queen Elisabeth of the Belgians, Henry Ford, Albert Moll, Magnus Hirschfeld, and Albert Einstein.[12] Viereck became close friends with Nikola Tesla.[13] According to Tesla, Viereck was the greatest contemporary American poet. Tesla occasionally attended dinner parties held by Viereck and his wife. He dedicated his poem "Fragments of Olympian Gossip" to Viereck, a work in which Tesla ridiculed the scientific establishment of the day.

Viereck founded two publications, The International and The Fatherland, which argued the German cause during World War I. Viereck became a well-known Nazi apologist. His interview with Adolf Hitler in 1923 had offered hints of what was to come.[14] In 1933, Viereck again met with Hitler, now Germany's Führer, in Berlin, and in 1934, he gave a speech to twenty thousand "Friends of the New Germany" at New York's Madison Square Garden, in which he compared Hitler to Franklin Delano Roosevelt and told his audience to sympathize with National Socialism without being antisemites. His Jewish friends denounced him as "George Swastika Viereck", but he continued to promote the German Nazis.[15]

In 1941, he was indicted in the U.S. for a violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act when he set up his publishing house, Flanders Hall, in Scotch Plains, New Jersey.[16] He was convicted in 1942 for this failure to register with the U. S. Department of State as a Nazi agent.[17] He was imprisoned from 1942 to 1947.

Viereck's memoir of life in prison, Men Into Beasts, was published as a paperback original by Fawcett Publications in 1952. The book is a general memoir of discomfort, loss of dignity, and brutality in prison life. The front matter and backcover text focuses on the situational homosexuality and male rape described in the book (witnessed, not experienced, by Viereck). The book, while a memoir, is thus the first original title of 1950s gay pulp fiction, an emerging genre in that decade.

Viereck also published a vampire novel, The House of the Vampire (1907), which is one of the first psychic vampire stories where a vampire feeds off more than just blood.[18][vague]

Family[edit]

His son, Peter Viereck, was a historian, political writer and poet. A 2005 The New Yorker article discusses how the younger Viereck both rejected and was shaped by the ideologies of his father.[19]

Reception[edit]

The poem Slaves published in the 1924 collection The Three Sphinxes and Other Poems inspired the title of the 1968 psychothriller Twisted Nerve, and is quoted several times in the film:

A twisted nerve, a ganglion gone awry,
Predestinates the sinner and the saint.

Bibliography[edit]

  • (1906) A Game at Love, and Other Plays. New York: Brentano's.
  • (1907) The House of the Vampire. New York: Moffat, Yard & Company.
  • (1907) Nineveh and Other Poems. New York: Moffat, Yard & Company.
  • (1910) Confessions of a Barbarian. New York: Moffat, Yard & Company.
  • (1912) The Candle and the Flame. New York: Moffat, Yard & Company.
  • (1916) Songs of Armageddon & Other Poems. New York: Mitchell Kennerley.
  • (1919) Roosevelt: A Study in Ambivalence. New York: Jackson Press, Inc.
  • (1923) Rejuvenation: How Steinach Makes People Young. New York: Thomas Seltzer [as George F. Corners].
  • (1924) The Three Sphinxes and Other Poems. Girard, Kansas: Haldeman-Julius Company.
  • (1928) My First Two Thousand Years: The Autobiography of the Wandering Jew. New York: The Macaulay Company [with Paul Eldridge].
  • (1930) Glimpses of the Great. New York: The Macaulay Company.
  • (1930) Salome: The Wandering Jewess. My First 2,000 Years of Love. New York, H. Liveright.
  • (1930) Spreading Germs of Hate. New York: H. Liveright [with a foreword by Colonel Edward M. House].
  • (1931) My Flesh and Blood. A Lyric Autobiography, with Indiscreet Annotations. New York: H. Liveright.
  • (1932) The Invincible Adam. London: Gerald Duckworth & Co. [with Paul Eldridge].
  • (1932) Strangest Friendship: Woodrow Wilson and Colonel House. New York: H. Liveright.
  • (1937) The Kaiser on Trial. New York: The Greystone Press.
  • (1938) Before America Decides. Foresight in Foreign Affairs. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press [with Frank P. Davidson].
  • (1941) The Seven Against Man. Flanders Hall.
  • (1949) All Things Human. New York: Sheridan House [as Stuart Benton].
  • (1952) Men Into Beasts. Fawcett Publication.
  • (1952) Gloria: A Novel. London: Gerald Duckworth & Co.
  • (1953) The Nude in the Mirror. New York: Woodford Press.

Articles[edit]

Miscellany[edit]

  • (1907). America: A Litany of Nations. Edited by George Sylvester Viereck. New York: The New Immigrants' Protective League.
  • (1913). The Works of George Sylvester Viereck. New York: Moffat, Yard & Company [5 vols.]
  • (1915). Debate between George Sylvester Viereck and Cecil Chesterton. New York: The Fatherland Corporation.
  • (1929). As They Saw Us: Foch, Ludendorff and Other Leaders Write Our War History. Edited by George Sylvester Viereck. Garden City, N. Y.: Doubleday, Doran & Company.

Foreign editions[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Keller, Phyllis (1971). "George Sylvester Viereck: The Psychology of a German-American Militant", The Journal of Interdisciplinary History, Vol. 2, No. 1, pp. 59–108.
  2. ^ Keller, Phyllis (1979). States of Belonging: German-American Intellectuals and the First World War, Harvard University Press.
  3. ^ Mader, D.H. (2005). "The Greek Mirror: Uranians and their use of Greece", in Verstraete and Provencal, (ed.) Same-Sex Desire and Love in Greco-Roman Antiquity, Psychology Press, p. 384.
  4. ^ Reiss, Tom (2005). The Orientalist. Solving the Mystery of a Strange and Dangerous Life. New York: Random House, p. 285.
  5. ^ Gertz, Elmer (1978). The Odyssey of a Barbarian: The Biography of George Sylvester Viereck, Prometheus Books, p. 99.
  6. ^ "Viereck Expelled by Author's League", The New York Times, July 26, 1918.
  7. ^ "N.Y.A.C Expels Viereck", The New York Times, August 16, 1918.
  8. ^ American National Biography Online
  9. ^ Monroe, Harriet (1919). "The Viereck Incident", Poetry, Vol. 13, No. 5, pp. 265–267.
  10. ^ Gertz (1978), p. 238.
  11. ^ Johnson, Niel M. (1972). George Sylvester Viereck: German-American Propagandist, University of Illinois Press.
  12. ^ Reiss (2005), pp. 286–287.
  13. ^ Cheney, Margaret & Robert Uth (2001). Tesla: Master of Lightning. Barnes & Noble Books, p. 137.
  14. ^ The Guardian – Great interviews of the 20th century
  15. ^ Reiss (2005), pp. 288–289.
  16. ^ George Sylvester Viereck
  17. ^ Carlson, John Roy (1943). Under Cover. Philadelphia: The Blakiston Company.
  18. ^ Lampert-Weissig, Lisa (2013). "The Vampire as Dark and Glorious Necessity in George Sylvester Viereck's House of the Vampire and Hanns Heinz Ewers' Vampir", in Samantha George and Bill Hughes, ed., Open Graves, Open Minds: Representations of Vampires and the Undead from the Enlightenment to the Present Day, Manchester University Press.
  19. ^ Reiss, Tom (2005). "The First Conservative: How Peter Viereck Inspired – and Lost – a Movement", The New Yorker, October 24.

Further reading[edit]

  • Antinori, John V. (1991). "Androcles and the Lion Hunter: G.B.S., George Sylvester Viereck, and the Politics of Personality", Shaw, Vol. 11, Shaw and Politics, pp. 149–168.
  • Jones, John Price (1918). "The Public Mind", in The German Secret Service in America, 1914–1918. Boston: Small, Maynard & Company, pp. 225–251.
  • Sullivan, Mark (1936). "German Plotting Exposed", in Our Times. 1900–1925. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons.

External links[edit]