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Sunday, January 25, 2015

Anna Seghers

Anna Seghers
(Roger Meils Fotografien)
no copyright infringement intended

born in 1900, died in 1983, best remembered for her novels about moral experiences during WWII; actually her name was Netty Radványi, née Reiling and her pseudonym was taken from the Dutch painter and etcher Hercules Seghers (whose works she admired); this speaks a lot for her life interest in Beaux Arts; studied the history of art at the university, along with general history and philosophy (and also Chinese, interesting detail, adding a touch to her portrait); her doctoral thesis treated aspects of Jews and Jewishness in the work of Rembrandt; coming to maturity during WWI, joined the Communist Party of Germany in 1928; during the Nazi period lived in exile (France, then Mexico); returned to Germany in 1947, settled in East Berlin in 1950, to become an emblematic figure of the GDR letters; Aufstand der Fischer von St. Barbara (1928) was her first novel, describing a grassroots revolt of Breton fishermen for better wages and larger share of their catch - the tone of the novel is kept cool, avoiding polemical excesses, while much attention is given to the details, reflecting the ideas of Neue Sachlichkeit - Erwin Piscator adapted the book for the screen (Восстание рыбаков, 1934); Das siebte Kreuz (1942) had a rather simple plot -a group of seven prisoners in a Nazi camp making a collaborative escape attempt - it was also adapted for the screen, this time by Fred Zinnemann, starring Spencer Tracy (The Seventh Cross, 1944); in Der Ausflug der toten Mädchen (1943) a woman living in exile is haunted by the ghostly visits of old schoolmates who had died in the Nazi camps and prisons - a horrific landscape of a Germany going mad and sending its madness far away on Earth; Transit Visa (1944), considered by Heinrich Böll as the most beautiful novel Seghers has written, was a thriller mixing politics, philosophy and literature, calling the reader back every couple of years to see how it evolved their relationship (Christa Wolf); and these titles are but a few of her bibliography.

(German and Nordic Literature)



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