There are now three changed editions of my Metapolitics, with varying subtitles. Written between 1936 and 1941, while the author was an undergraduate and graduate at Harvard and Oxford, the first edition appeared with Knopf in mid 1941 (before Pearl Harbor and written—or overwritten—in the anguished emotional context of Hitler seemingly winning). This first edition was accepted as my Harvard Ph.D. thesis in January 1942. The second edition, a Putnam Capricorn paperback, appeared in 1961 and 1965, the original text unchanged but with several key appendices (Wagner, Jahn, Alfred Rosenberg, etc.) and with a new (1961) preface (in the calmer context of Hitler’s defeat).
The present third edition, prepared in 2002 and released in 2004 by Transaction Publishers, is—in effect—a new book. It leaves unchanged the 1941 original (whose mood of crisis cannot be recaptured or rewritten now), its index, and the 1961-65 appendices and preface. But it adds well over a hundred completely new pages as part 2, headed “Discoveries in German Culture.” The latter comprises essays on Albert Speer, Claus von Stauffenberg, Georg Heym, and Stefan George, culminating in a brief assessment of Hugo von Hofmannsthal. The publisher’s suggestion was to supply the contexts (and contradictions?) of my thoughts ranging from 1936-41 (late teen-age, early twenties) to 2004 (at age eighty-eight)—a sixty-eight year palimpsest.
My bibliographies aim not at completeness nor up-to-dateness (anybody can copy off a library list). They aim to show the books on which (aside from my many interviews with Germans) I based my research. Not listed are the hundreds of books and articles on Wagner and on Hitler that have appeared thereafter and are thus irrelevant to my argument. The 1941 edition has its share of prophecies (e.g., of Hitler’s later use specifically of gas chambers, cf. “The Rooted German,” page 317). Tampering with first editions can lead, among other things, to a seeming precognition.
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Note: This article is based on the Introduction to the Transaction Edition of Viereck’s Metapolitics (new material copyright © 2004 by Transaction Publishers, New Brunswick, New Jersey) and is here reprinted with the prior written permission of the copyright holder.
- August Kubizek, Adolf Hitler, Mein Jugendfreund (Graz, 1953, English edition, 1954). Here, this friend of the teenage Hitler describes how the latter reacted to watching Wagner’s Rienzi: “My friend, . . . silent and withdrawn, strode through the streets. . . . Never before and never again have I heard Adolf Hitler speak as he did in that hour. . . . It was a state of complete ecstasy and rapture, in which he transferred the character of Rienzi . . . with visionary power to the plan of his own ambitions.” Some of Kubizek’s memories are faked: when encouraged to expand them in later editions. But his account of young Hitler’s intense identification with Rienzi in Vienna rings true and is corroborated by separate sources.
- See Mann’s letters to the editor of Common Sense and to the publisher of the 1941 edition of Metapolitics, reprinted in Peter Viereck, Metapolitics: From Wagner and the German Romantics to Hitler, expanded edition (New Brunswick and London: Transaction Publishers, 2004), li-lxi; all further references to Metapolitics in
- Metapolitics, 6, 7, 18, 33, 189-199, 261, and 294.
- Ibid., 51 and passim.
- Ibid., 485-493.
- The dangers of metatech are discussed in my new book entitled Unadjusted Man in the Age of Overadjustment: Where History and Literature Intersect (New Brunswick and London: Transaction Publishers, 2004).
- In my 1952 book Shame and Glory of the Intellectuals (Beacon, reprinted by Greenwood) the phrase “radical chic” originated. The book analyzes this concept, the ancestor of what today is called “political correctness.” The term “Babbitt” as used here is based on Sinclair Lewis’s fictional character George Babbitt.
- Op. cit.