MEIN KAMPF is written in the style of a self-educated mod- em South German with a gift for oratory. Of course this picture does not begin to characterize Hitler the man, but it does, I think, account for the elements of his style.
Beginning in his Vienna period, Hitler was a voracious news- paper reader. The style of the Austrian press, as Karl Kraus never wearied of pointing out, was slovenly, illogical, pretentious. Even the grammar, doubtless because of the large number of Czechs, Hungarians, and other foreigners in the trade, was uncommonly bad. Hitler inveighed against the Viennese melting pot, but was unconsciously influenced by its literary style.
He must also have read popular pamphlets on history, psychology, racist biology, and political subjects. He never at- tempted to systematize his knowledge; he retained, for the most part, disjointed facts that met some personal need, and phrases that appealed to his oratorical sense. But the main source of his pet phrases was the theater and the opera. He is full of popular quotations from Goethe and Schiller, and largely unintelligible flights of Wagnerian terminology. There is no indication that he ever read any of the German, let alone foreign classics, from which he might have gathered some feeling for stylistic principles.
Hitler has been called a paranoiac; at all events, his view of the world is highly personal. Even where he is discussing theoretical matters like' the state,' race,' etc., he seldom pursues any logic inherent in the subject matter. He makes the most extraordinary allegations without so much as an attempt to prove them. Often there is no connection between one paragraph and the next. The logic is purely psychological: Hitler is ...
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No non-German would write such labyrinthine sentences. The translator's task -often feet of tightrope-walking -is to render the ponderousness and even convey a German flavor, without writing German-American. In general I have cut down the sentences only when the length made them unintelligible in English. (The German language with its cases and genders does enable the reader to find his way through tangles which in a non-inflected language would be inextricable.) Contrary to the general opinion, the German text contains only one or two sentences that make no sense at first reading.
America and is a member of the Advisory Board of the Children's Health Fund. In January of 1997, President Clinton named him to be the General Chairman of the Presidents' Summit for America's Future, to be held in Philadelphia on April 27-29, 1997.
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