From New International, Vol.2 No.2, March 1935, p.79.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.
Hans Sees the World
by Lisa Tetzner
translated by Margaret Goldsmith
282 pp. New York. Covici Friede. $2.
Parents and teachers have been struggling along with very little literature to help them teach the class struggle. Here is an answer to the most dialectical and literary prayer. A little boy’s adventures all over the world, on a flying rabbit, in search of bread for his widowed mother, is the theme. The international approach is implicit – it is made clear that there is no bread without work, and very little bread with work, except for the favored few, all over the world. Nowhere except in the Soviet Union are hungry and homeless children cared for and given a chance to earn their bread as well as study and play.
The rabbit is unable to grasp the sense of human arrangements, and tries to persuade Hans to become a rabbit too. But Hans prefers to remain a human being and struggle for a better world. The most delicate balance between childish phantasy and unrelenting reality are maintained, with a constant play of humor and inventiveness that keeps children (even young enough to be read to) on tenterhooks to hear the end.
If one were to quibble, it would be possible to point out; first of all that the translation should have been better – the book is a work of art and must have been better literature in German, second that near the end there is a hint of pacifism and class collaboration where the little rich boy decides to go home and ask his father not to make any more guns. Also there is a Negro cannibal tribe that is perhaps a trifle out of place in a book showing the exploitation of colonial peoples. But these faults are small indeed when one realizes that here for the first time is a book for children entirely and uncompromisingly concerned with making the class struggle real and interesting – and successful to boot.
Last updated on 8.7.2006