Anna Seghers

The Challenge of History


Anna Seghers: The Challenge of History features essays by leading scholars devoted to this most important German writer whose novels and stories have been read by millions worldwide. The volume is intended for teachers and students of literature and for general readers. The contributions address facets of Seghers’s large body of work which is characterized by reflections on political events shaping world history and written in a highly imaginative array of narrative styles. The first section focuses on the author’s famous novel The Seventh Cross. Articles in the next two sections analyze her reactions to crises that marked the twentieth century and her connections to other relevant thinkers of her time. The last section features new translations of Seghers’s works.

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Helen Fehervary, Professor Emerita/Academy Professor of German Studies, Ohio State University, has published widely on German literature, theatre, and intellectual history, is author of Anna Seghers: The Mythic Dimension, and editor of the text-critical Anna Seghers Werkausgabe published by Aufbau-Verlag, Berlin.
Christiane Zehl Romero, Professor Emerita of German, International Literary/Cultural Studies, Goldthwaite Professor of Rhetoric, Tufts University, has authored articles on German and comparative literature, a two-volume biography of Seghers, and coedited two volumes of her letters in the Anna Seghers Werkausgabe.
Amy Kepple Strawser, Lecturer, Ohio State University, has published on German poetry and women writers. She translated Ursula Krechel’s Voices from the Bitter Core (2010) and with Helen Fehervary tales by Seghers including “The Excursion of the Dead Girls” (2017).
Note on Translations
Note on Orthography
Chronology of Seghers’s Life and Works
Notes on Contributors

Part 1: The Seventh Cross: Origins, Relevance, Adaptations

 1 Topographies of Escape, Flight, and Migration in Seghers’s Prose
Helen Fehervary
 2 Heroes: The Seventh Cross and Seghers’s “Heldenbuch”
Christiane Zehl Romero
 3 Allusions to the Hebrew Bible and the Jewish-Christian Gospel and Apostolic Narratives in The Seventh Cross
Helen Fehervary
 4  The Seventh Cross: Dignité humaine and Human Rights
Birgit Maier-Katkin
 5  The Seventh Crossand Fred Zinnemann’s Cinematic Adaptation
Peter Beicken
 6 Expressionism in Pictures: Exploring William Sharp’s Comic Adaptation of The Seventh Cross
Kristy Boney

Part 2: From the Historical Avant-Garde to Socialism and Antifascism

 7 Netty Reiling’s Student Years at the University of Heidelberg
Christiane Zehl Romero
 8 Die Gefährten: Poised Aesthetically between Modernism and Lukácsian Socialist Realism and Politically between Rosa Luxemburg and Lenin
Katerina Clark
 9 Narrative Approaches to the Holocaust: A Pivotal Decade in Seghers’s Oeuvre
Helen Fehervary
 10 The French Connection: Seghers’s Friendships and Work Relationships in and with France
Christiane Zehl Romero
 11 Seghers’s Efforts to Write about Postwar Germany
Ute Brandes
 12 Anna Seghers, Walter Janka, Wolfgang Harich, and the Events of
Stephen Brockmann

Part 3: Seghers and her Contemporaries

 13 Visual Encounters: Seghers, Kafka, and Benjamin
Peter Beicken
 14 Notes on Seghers and Adorno: Marxism, Post-Fascism, and the Question of Culture
Hunter Bivens
 15 “Die herrliche Anna Seghers”: Her Role for Christa Wolf and Brigitte Reimann
Christiane Zehl Romero
 16 “… diese unerträgliche Sehnsucht”: Life Journeys and Longing in Reimann, Seghers, and Wolf
Jennifer Marston William
 17 Heiner Müller’s Three Confessions: Late Letters to His Father, His Grandfather, and His Literary Mother Anna Seghers
Janine Ludwig

Part 4: Seghers in Translation

 18 Introduction to The Wayfarers: Chapter One
Hunter Bivens
 19 Introduction to “Shelter”
Helen Fehervary
 20 Introduction to “The Reed”
Amy Kepple Strawser
General readers and scholars of German literature and intellectual/political history, German-Jewish studies, exile studies, GDR studies; academic libraries.