At the very height of the Cold War, Wolfgang Koeppen reported on the political pecularities and abnormalities he encountered on his travels in the United States and the Soviet Union. Koeppen's texts perform a fascinating rewriting of the sentimental journey, choosing the descriptive mode of the generally underestimated travelogue over the novel's narrative mode. This choice generates a particular “design of the concrete,” whereby highly personal impressions and isolated facts and things emerge as interesting in themselves. Koeppen attempts to banish the “dangerous chimera” of the iron curtain in his focus on the “collective hallucinations” from which “hot” wars repeatedly emerge.

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