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Not one of them: The Audacious World of Irmgard Keun

Tuesday, October 25, 2011, 6:30 p.m.

Panel discussion

Not one of them: The Audacious World of Irmgard Keun

A bestselling author of the Weimar Republic and a glamorous figure of 1920s Berlin, Irmgard Keun established the concept of modern “girl culture” – with a heroine who is part of the workforce, sexually emancipated, with a strong personality, hunger for life and not enough money to pay rent – in German literature. She was blacklisted after the Nazis rose to power and forced into exile and would later fake her own suicide and sneak back into Nazi Germany under an assumed identity. Mostly forgotten after the war she experienced a literary renaissance in Germany before her death in 1983. In an attempt to introduce her work to American audiences, three of her books (The Artificial Silk GirlChild of All Nations, and After Midnight) have recently been published in the U.S. by the independent publishers Other Press, Overlook, and Melville House. 


Ruth Franklin, Michael Hoffmann, and Maria Tatar will discuss the artistic, political, and cultural significance of the German author Irmgard Keun. A video interview with Keun's daughter TK, and film clips from adaptations of Keun's novels will also be screened.

Read what one of the participants, Ruth Franklin, thinks about Irmgrad Keun and her relationship with literature and politics.


Ruth Franklin is a literary critic and a senior editor at The New Republic. Her writing also appears in The New YorkerThe New York Review of BooksThe New York Times Book Review, and other publications. Her book A Thousand Darknesses: Lies and Truth in Holocaust Fiction, which investigates work by writers such as Elie Wiesel, Primo Levi, Imre Kertész, and W.G. Sebald, was published in November 2010 by Oxford University Press. Before joining The New Republic, she was an editor for the Let's Go travel guide series and a researcher in the Warsaw bureau of The New York Times. She lives in Brooklyn, New York. 


Maria Tatar is the John L. Loeb Professor of Germanic Languages & Literatures and Folklore & Mythology at Harvard University, where she teaches courses in the fields of German Studies, Folklore, and Children’s Literature.  She is the author of Classic Fairy Tales, Annotated Peter Pan, Enchanted Hunters, Lustmord, among other volumes, as well as of the introduction to The Artificial Silk Girl.

Poet and translator Michael Hofmann has translated some sixty books from the German, mainly novels, including works by Ernst Junger, Franz Kafka, Wolfgang Koeppen, Joseph Roth, and Wim Wenders. His criticism appears regularly in the London Review of Books and Poetry (Chicago). Michael Hofmann currently teaches poetry workshops and seminars on European poetry and translation at University of Florida.

DAAD sponsored Panel

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