Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Nora hat eine famose Idee

She was one of the best known women writers of the Weimar Republic and…retained her readership during her years of exile in Austria, in Czechoslovakia, and even in England." (Beate Frakele, "Reise durch ein Leben. Zum 40. Todestag Hermynia Zur Mühlens," in Siglinde Bolbecher, ed., Literatur in der Peripherie [Vienna: Verlag für Gesellschaftskritik, 1992], p. 208; all translations from German are by L.G. unless otherwise indicated). Karl Markus Gauß provides a somewhat darker view: "She was born to fabulous wealth, and died in bitter poverty. Her novels, short stories, novellas, and children's books went through many editions, and she was forgotten in her own lifetime. A great number of admirers showed respect for her literary achievement and testified to her stylistic sensitivity and personal courage. Greater still, however, has been the ignorance that caused the work of this important woman writer to be disregarded and the author herself abandoned to the oblivion into which she was cast by the cultural devastation of fascism." (Introduction to a re-edition of Zur Muhlen's short story collection Fahrt ins Licht [Klagenfurt: Sisyphus Verlag, 1999], p.7.) In the late 1940s and in the 1950s, however, short sketches ("Humoresken") – of varying quality – by Zur Mühlen continued to appear from time to time, alongside brief pieces by writers like Gottfried Benn (strange company for her!) and Jean Cocteau (e.g. April 18, 1953), in the feuilleton pages of the newspaper Frankfurter Rundschau. The last of these was published on May 1, 1961, ten years after her death. For a list of Zur Mühlen's writings in Austrian newspapers and magazines, see Deborah J. Vietor-Engländer, Eckart Früh and Ursula Seeber, eds., Nebenglück: Ausgewählte Erzählungen und Feuilletons aus dem Exil von Hermynia Zur Mühlen (Bern: Peter Lang, 2002), pp. 259-73. Aside from a few occasional mentions of her, the only study of her work in English is the short essay by Lynda J. King, "From the Crown to the Hammer and Sickle: the Life and Works of Austrian Interwar Writer Hermynia zur Mühlen," in Marianne Burkhard and Jeanette Clausen, eds., Women in German Yearbook, vol. 4 (Boston: University Press of America, 1988), pp. 125-54.

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