Strange Bird The Albatross Press and the Third Reich Michele K. Troy

New Directions in Narrative History
Publication date:
04 Apr 2017
Yale University Press
440 pages: 235 x 156 x 29mm
30 b-w illus.

The first book about the Albatross Press, a Penguin precursor that entered into an uneasy relationship with the Nazi regime to keep Anglo-American literature alive under fascism

The Albatross Press was, from its beginnings in 1932, a “strange bird”: a cultural outsider to the Third Reich but an economic insider. It was funded by British-Jewish interests. Its director was rumored to work for British intelligence. A precursor to Penguin, it distributed both middlebrow fiction and works by edgier modernist authors such as D. H. Lawrence, Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, and Ernest Hemingway to eager continental readers. Yet Albatross printed and sold its paperbacks in English from the heart of Hitler’s Reich.

In her original and skillfully researched history, Michele K. Troy reveals how the Nazi regime tolerated Albatross—for both economic and propaganda gains—and how Albatross exploited its insider position to keep Anglo-American books alive under fascism. In so doing, Troy exposes the contradictions in Nazi censorship while offering an engaging detective story, a history, a nuanced analysis of men and motives, and a cautionary tale.

Michele K. Troy is professor of English at Hillyer College at the University of Hartford. She studies Anglo-American literary modernism in continental Europe in the decades between the two world wars. She lives in Hartford, CT.

“An eerie journey into a bold cosmopolitan publishing venture in defiance of the censorship rampant in Nazi Germany. . . . Wonderfully engaging history.”—Kirkus Reviews

“An absorbing tale of economics, censorship, and literature. [Michele] Troy’s riveting exploration of Albatross is a rewarding mix of publishing history, literary criticism, and biography.”—Publishers Weekly

“For one who has, since boyhood, regarded the second-hand bookshop as a paradise of total immersion, it is quite shocking to discover Albatross…Troy’s account is a painstaking act of exhumation… she sticks tenaciously to her unique dig, presenting us with a remarkable reconstruction.”—Duncan Fallowell, Spectator

“A valuable document of historical preservation.”—Signature Reads

“A cuckoo in the literary Nazi nest… Strange Bird is a story of art and business, but, given its ominous setting in Auden’s ‘low dishonest decade’ it is a story of war and politics too.”—Robert Eaglestone, THES