Book look: Marcus G. Patka and Alfred Stalzer

“Alle Meschugge?” is the title of a remarkable exhibition at Vienna’s Jewish Museum (www.jmw.at) – and the name of a wonderful book published in connection with the exhibit. For all those who missed the exhibit curated by Marcus G. Patka and Alfred Stalzer, the 420-page book offers a perfect option to catch up. Furthermore, visitors of the exhibition – which was attended by nearly 35,000 visitors – might want to inform themselves again about the one or other topics presented at the museum.

“Alle Meschugge?” is not just the official exhibition catalogue. The Amalthea release – which is still on sale – is also an extraordinary picture book and an encyclopaedia. With more than 700 illustrations, its creators pay tribute to the power of photography. However, they also offer a wide range of background information on the many personalities who have created Jewish humour in some way over the past decades. Kabarett legends Karl Farkas and Fritz Grünbaum, author Ephraim Kishon, movie director Woody Allen and the various characters created by Sacha Baron Cohen – they are all mentioned.
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Cartoons, movies, TV productions and books are portrayed and analysed. As far as geographical and sociological angles are regarded, Patka and Stalzer write about Vienna and Berlin as decisive centres of Jewish humour. The exhibit curators also underline the vital influence of Jewish intellectuals on the entertainment industry of North America – from the Broadway to Hollywood.

“Alle Meschugge?” has the potential to become a reference book as no aspect of the subject is ignored. In her foreword, Danielle Spera, the director of the Jewish Museum of Vienna, stresses that one in 10 residents of the Austrian capital was Jewish before 1938. Spera argues that this is one of the many reasons to focus on both: contemporary Jewish culture and cultural achievements of the past.

Alle Meschugge? Jüdischer Witz und Humor
By Marcus G. Patka and Alfred Stalzer
Published by Amalthea (www.amalthea.at)

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