The Six by Rudolf Rocker was originally published in 1938 by the Rocker Publications Committee, but since then has been unavailable except as rare finds in used bookstores. I was introduced to The Six in the very late 1960s when my friends at the Libertarian Book Club in New York sent me a copy.
During World War I while held in a British concentration camp simply because he had been born in Germany, Rocker gave lectures to other inmates about well-known figures in literature. It was a way both to entertain and to enlighten, and in Rocker’s inimitable way, he did both magnificently.
The book is built on his lectures about six literary characters: Faust, Don Juan, Hamlet, Don Quixote, Medarus and Heinrich von Ofterdingen. The introduction to the 1938 edition by Ray Chase, the book’s translator, observes: “I think nothing reveals more convincingly, not only Rocker’s literary skill, but also his great power as an orator, than the fact that he could make those lectures real and impressive to new audiences of untaught workers–to the half-literate sailors whom he met in a British interment camp during the World War, for instance. That he did this is made clear by the fact that he was called upon to repeat the lectures again and again. That he did not achieve this success by talking down to the cultural level of his hearers is shown by the fact that the scholars and writers who were also among the interned men were equally impressed and equally eager for the repetition.
As with Rocker’s Nationalism and Culture, which I published in 1978, The Six is dedicated to keeping alive Rocker’s works for new generations. I have kept the price as low as possible to make it available to a wide range of people, regardless of economic circumstance. Another book you may find interesting was written by Rudolf’s son Fermin, called 33 Dunstan Houses.
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