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A new translation of the best and most provocative short stories by the author of Transit and The Seventh Cross.
Best known for the anti-fascist novel The Seventh Cross and the existential thriller Transit, Anna Seghers was also a gifted writer of short fiction. The stories she wrote throughout her life reflect her political activism as well as her deep engagement with myth; they are also some of her most formally experimental work. This selection of Seghers’s best stories, written between 1925 and 1965, displays the range of her creativity over the years. It includes her most famous short fiction, such as the autobiographical “The Dead Girls’ Class Trip,” and others, like “Jans Is Going to Die,” that have been translated into English here for the first time. There are psychologically penetrating stories about young men corrupted by desperation and women bound by circumstance, as well as enigmatic tales of bewilderment and enchantment based on myths and legends, like “The Best Tales of Woynok, the Thief,” “The Three Trees,” and “Tales of Artemis.” In her stories, Seghers used the German language in especially unconventional and challenging ways, and Margot Bettauer Dembo’s sensitive and skilled translation preserves this distinction.
German writer Seghers (1900 1983) was among the first writers to address the rise and aftermath of Nazism with works such as Transit, a legacy well documented in this clear-eyed collection. The stories straddle history "The Square" follows the family of communist leader Ernst Th lmann after he was arrested by the Gestapo and myth "Tales of Artemis" features an old hunter sharing stories of seeing a goddess in the woods and of a boy who strayed fatally into their hunting ground. "The Ship of the Argonauts" combines both themes, describing a man's return home with his Golden Fleece to a land made strange, a clear metaphor for survivors of the Holocaust. In the explicit "A Man Becomes a Nazi," a desperate outsider is seduced by the promise of power, and "The End" follows two men one a survivor of the concentration camps, the other his jailer as they reencounter each other in the countryside. Seghers's masterly title story, written near the end of the war, casts an idyllic school outing in a dark pall, anticipating the fates of the innocent children. The result is classic European storytelling at its most potent.