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Fehervary, H. (2017). Anna Seghers's Response to the Holocaust. Am. Imago, 74(3):383-390.

(2017). American Imago, 74(3):383-390

Anna Seghers's Response to the Holocaust Related Papers

Helen Fehervary

The three tales in this issue of American Imago are brought together here for the first time in English. They were first published in 1946 by the German exile press Aurora Verlag in New York under the title: Der Ausflug der toten Mädchen und andere Erzählungen. By this time Anna Seghers, still living in political exile in Mexico, had become internationally renowned. In the United States, her novel, The Seventh Cross, about the antifascist resistance in Germany, published by Little, Brown in Boston in 1942, had been a Book-of-the-Month-Club bestseller and in 1944 was made into a successful Hollywood film directed by Fred Zinnemann and starring Spencer Tracy, Hume Cronin, and Jessica Tandy. That same year, her novel, Transit, about the plight of refugees fleeing Europe in 1940—many trapped without transit papers in Marseille—was also published by Little, Brown. Thus the forthcoming publication of three tales by Seghers was met with interest. Two of them were quickly translated and appeared even before the German volume, the first, “The Excursion of the Dead Girls” (under the title “The School Excursion”) in The Yale Review (June 1945), and the third, “The End,” in The Saturday Evening Post (March 16, 1946). Considered the most poignant and provocative of Seghers's many tales and novellas, “The Excursion of the Dead Girls” has meanwhile been published in at least three more English translations, while “Post to the Promised Land” has never before appeared in English. If previous translators of the tales presented here have tended to smooth over the idiosyncracies of Seghers's prose by relying on conventional phrasing and syntax, Amy Kepple Strawser and I have tried, without being overly literal, to remain as true as possible to the language and rhythm of the original in order to convey the underlying poetic texture and complexity and the psychological nuances of each work.

Anna Seghers, née Netty Reiling on November 19, 1900 in Mainz, was the only child of Isidor Reiling and his wife Hedwig.

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