Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Janet Flanner

Born this day in 1892: JANET FLANNER, (1892–1978), longtime The New Yorker magazine columnist and Paris correspondent known for her witty and sophisticated “Letter from Paris” pieces (writing under the pseudonym Genêt) and for her insightful contributions to the magazine’s “Profile” series.

Here’s an excerpt from her profile of Adolph Hitler (March 14, 1936):

“Lacking the cerebral faculty of creating new public ideologies, as a fanatic [Hitler] has developed his unusual capacity for adapting those of others. Being self-taught, his mental processes are mysterious; he is missionary-minded; his thinking is emotional, his conclusions material. He has been studious with strange results: he says he regards liberalism as a form of tyranny, hatred and attack as part of man’s civic virtues, and equality of men as immoral and against nature. Since he is a concentrated, introspective dogmatist, he is uninformed by exterior criticism. On the other hand, he is a natural and masterly advertiser, a phenomenal propagandist within his limits, the greatest mob orator in German annals, and one of the most inventive organizers in European history. He believes in intolerance as a pragmatic principle. He accepts violence as a detail of state, he says mercy is not his affair with men, yet he is kind to dumb animals…. His moods change often, his opinions never. Since the age of twenty, they have been mainly anti-Semitic, anti-Communist, anti-suffrage, and Pan-German. He has a fine library of six thousand volumes, yet he never reads; books would do him no good—his mind is made up.”

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