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Sunday, November 11, 2018

DEVELOPING UWE JOHNSON PAGE

 

If interested in the work of Uwe Johnson I suggest first reading his first three absolutely first rate POLITICAL novels

SPECULATIONS ABOUT JACOB ;
https://tinyurl.com/y8zzqhbv

THIRD BOOK ABOUT ACHIM https://tinyurl.com/y7xrjll2.

and TWO VIEWS https://tinyurl.com/yac2j868.

before becoming involved in his huge ANNIVERSARIES https://tinyurl.com/y988jq3o



I can send you a PDF of my 1961 Johnson interview if you like. Lots of myths being spread by U.S. reviewers. Johnson died of the consequences of his alcoholism which failed to allay his profound depression. A good source of information is his correspondence with his publisher Siegfried Unseld. His Suhrkamp editor Raimund Fellinger, too, is in a position to allay rumors and errors. michael roloff, dec 2018




https://www.nyrb.com/collections/uwe-johnson


 

Uwe Johnson (1934–1984) grew up in the small town of Anklam in the German state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. At the end of World War II, his father, who had joined the Nazi Party in 1940, disappeared into a Soviet camp; he was declared dead in 1948. Johnson and his mother remained in Communist East Germany until his mother left for the West in 1956, after which Johnson was barred from regular employment. In 1959, shortly before the publication of his first novel, Speculations About Jakob, in West Germany, he emigrated to West Berlin by streetcar, leaving the East behind for good. Other novels, The Third Book About AchimAn Absence, and Two Views, followed in quick succession. A member of the legendary Gruppe 47, Johnson lived from 1966 until 1968 with his wife and daughter in New York, compiling a high-school anthology of postwar German literature. On Tuesday, April 18, 1967, at 5:30 p.m., as he later recounted the story, he saw Gesine Cresspahl, a character from his earlier works, walking on the south side of Forty-Second Street from Fifth to Sixth Avenue alongside Bryant Park; he asked what she was doing in New York and eventually convinced her to let him write his next novel about a year in her life. Anniversaries was published in four installments—in 1970, 1971, 1973, and 1983—and was quickly recognized in Germany as one of the great novels of the century. In 1974, Johnson left Germany for the isolation of Sheerness-on-Sea, England


https://www.nytimes.com/1984/03/14/obituaries/uwe-johnson-novelist-dies-wrote-about-east-germany.html



a fine guardian review of ANNIVERSARIES

 https://tinyurl.com/yb6fr6vy


's interesting piece on ANNIVERSARIES


https://tinyurl.com/y87mnwdo

 =


https://www.newyorker.com/books/under-review/a-new-translation-of-an-anti-heroic-german-doorstopper-of-1968?mbid=nl_Daily%20112618&CNDID=7634537&utm_source=nl&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Daily%20112618&utm_content=&utm_brand=tny&utm_mailing=Daily%20112618&hasha=248b0f815c8953df65b217e2055c2d79&hashb=99eb866ca00b5e7f158a19392871248ccb1fa627&spMailingID=14683457&spUserID=MTMzMTg1NTY1MDQwS0&spJobID=1522011946&spReportId=MTUyMjAxMTk0NgS2


Dear Professor Blaustein,
Thanks for your review of Jahrestage which I wish had included deserved praise for Johnson’s first three amazing tightly composed novels Speculations about Jakob, The Third Book about Achim, and Two Views which Johnson thought about for a year and then wrote down, as compared to Anniversaries which took 20 years to complete – and most likely would not have been if Johnson’s publisher Siegfried Unseld [vide the correspondence] had not given the then reculse a kick in the pants in the form of the threat to withdraw the monthly stipend.
   I think that JAHRESTAGE is a mistake, for one compared to the first three novels, and also to the New York of 1968, for which Johnson’s was too puritanical – I can be if needed just as puritanical in every which way but also the opposite and learn to have a marvelous time both upper and lower class and multi-ethnically in the swinging New York of the time. Anniversary is too monotonous for that reason. Johson, and advisor to Suhrkamp and what authors to accept as authors blackballed Susan Sontag = a big mistake.  

I got to know Uwe via Fred Jordan at Grove Press for whom I was doing outside work in the early 60s and then did an interview with him in  New York and in Boston at my fellow Metamorphosis editor Fred Jameson ‘s place and published the interview in Issue # 3, it has been translated into German and published by Suhrkamp; I myself have a PDF that Tom McGonogel made for me from the Issue # 3 in the NY Public Library.

 I saw Uwe then in Berlin and he was helpful in apprising me of the lay of the land of East German Lit circa 1970 where I was the first American Scout [for Sam Lawrence at Atlantic Monthly, and then for him at Knopf] to venture , Aufbau Verlag, a Herr Kaspar who told me had become a communist, not as so many did as Russian POWs, but as an American prisoner of war picking cotton in Arizona with what he described as American black slaves’ one of the more memorable days I must say in every respect. And Aufbau then sent me all the books I wanted and I read them at my German haven that year, Villiprott, outside Godesberg, while my retired OSS/CIC/CIA CORS OF ENGINEERS stepfather was memorably once once again engaged in spy work amongst all bevy of spies that circles the US First Secretaries abode, while getting himself a masters in German lit. What I got out of the venture to East Berlin was Christa Wolf whom I was the first to publish in the U.S. at Farrar, Straus in the late 70s/

In Berlin Uwe was a severely depressed alcoholic and I always regretted, once I did a psychoanalysis that Suhrkamp had not put him in contact with their own great author analyst Mitcherlich - [Inability to Mourn, the Fatherless Generation ]- and once more memorably in New York, early 70s, I gave him a ride back from a reading from TWO VIEWS at Columbia to the Iroquis Hotel, [for those who don't like the stiff Algonquin fees yet like to stay near other writers]. TWO VIEWS made me think about the spy business in Berlin, my mother had been such for the German 20th of jury resistance as of 1933,
 and finally been entrapped




 and fortuitously survived the siege of Berlin in her Gestapo prison; through her and my OSS stepfather I had made early acquaintance with Rainer Hillebrandt of the Kampgruppe gegen Unmenschlichkeit, a concentration camp survivor who had founded a group to fight their now operation by the Soviets, whom OSS/now CIA was turning into a terrorist organization to blow up East German infrastructure


- and Rainer later ran the Checkpoint Charlie museum - and I - who had declined a CIA invitation in Berlin  in 1957 - wanted to talk a bit about all that with Uwe who - judging by TWO VIEWS he knew his way around these matters in Berlin - however, upon the mere mention of Rainer Hillenbrandt Uwe leapt out of my Pontiac Firebird convertible, top up, and lumbered, his alcohol fattened being, just like a Rhino was my impression, toward the Iroquois. Deeply paranoid, and for reason judging by Kaspar's reaction when I divulged to him that his list of writers matched the one that Uwe had provided me: I also returned with a threat from East Berlin that day.  No wonder of course that his wife might have an affair, writers are problematic husband and wives, but if they come home drunk at night... Also re-wrote Ursule Molinaro's pretty good translation of that extremely demanding text THIRD BOOK ABOUT for Fred, and it would be great if maybe the NYRB could do those first perfect novels as a boxed set???   



https://lithub.com/uwe-johnson-a-chapter-a-day-for-a-year/

"

den Uwe hab ich durch seinen damaligen Lektor bei Grove Press, Fred Jordan kennen gelernt und fuer Metamorphose inteviewt, -

das Interview hab ich als PDF und versuch es separat hochzulotzen -

gibts auch bei Suhrkamp, auch die Ursula Molinaro Uebersetzung vom DRITTEN BUCH ueberarbeitet. Die eresten Buecher waren zu demanding allgemein, und Jahrestage mit dem NY Times Zeug las sich als zu zeitgemaes. Ausser dem war der Uwe dem Suff verfallen und extrem paranoid. Da kommt nichts mehr war die Helen Wolf Meinung als Uwe ihr Autor und als Harcourt Brace Lektor arbeitet.



HERE THE LINKS TO SOME AMERICAN REVIEWS OF HIS BOOKS 

http://www.complete-review.com/reviews/brd/johnsonu.htm

https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/uwe-johnson/anniversaries/

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00168890.2018.1441114

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/18/books/review-anniversaries-uwe-johnson.html

http://www.faz.net/aktuell/feuilleton/buecher/themen/amerika-entdeckt-uwe-johnsons-jahrestage-15875468.html


    Uwe Johnsons Roman „Jahrestage“ wurde 48 Jahre nach Erscheinen ins Englische übersetzt, und das Goethe-Institut macht großen Bahnhof in New York. Eine Figur wie Gesine Cresspahl kommt dort gerade zur rechten Zeit.
  •  







Gute Bücher haben immer ihre Zeit. So sollte es jedenfalls sein. Der Markt für sie aber ist weniger unbestimmt. Da ist die Zeit für ein gutes Buch möglicherweise schnell vorbei. Oder noch gar nicht angebrochen. Und so ist es nicht ganz müßig zu fragen, warum Uwe Johnsons „Jahrestage“ erstmals jetzt vollständig ins Englische übersetzt wurden, 48 Jahre nach Erscheinen des ersten Bandes, 35 nach Erscheinen des letzten und fünfzig Jahre nach der Zeit, in der dieser Roman spielt – zwischen dem 21. August 1967 und dem 20. August 1968. Was hat es damit auf sich?
Verena Lueken
Redakteurin im Feuilleton.
Die Amerikaner haben, was Bücher angeht, immer schon einen immensen Exportüberschuss zu verzeichnen, während die Deutschen auf diesem Gebiet eher im unteren Mittelbereich liegen. Aus der aktuellen belletristischen Produktion wird sehr wenig für den englischsprachigen Markt übersetzt. Aus Gründen, die nicht immer durchschaubar sind, entdecken die Amerikaner dann aber plötzlich einen deutschsprachigen Klassiker für sich und sind selbst erstaunt, warum es so lange gedauert hat. Vor einigen Jahren war das Stefan Zweig. Davor Joseph Roth. Davor W.G.Sebald. Jetzt ist es Uwe Johnson.

Großer Bahnhof, aber wer wird es lesen?

Seine späte Würdigung durch die Amerikaner ist besonders rätselhaft, spielen doch seine „Jahrestage“ in New York. Die „New York Times“ hat eine der Hauptrollen. Vermutlich war einiges, wenn nicht vieles – die Schlagzeilen aus der „Times“ sicher, die Dialoge wahrscheinlich – ursprünglich Englisch und wurde von Johnson ins Deutsche gebracht. Es nützte offenbar nichts, obwohl sich das Ganze deutlich kurzweiliger liest, als die Länge von mehr als zweitausend deutschen Seiten, die im Englischen auf 1720 schrumpften, vermuten lässt. Es gab Versuche, in den siebziger Jahren, in einer längst vergriffenen Ausgabe. Übersetzer und Verlag gaben damals auf, als Uwe Johnsons Schreibblockade das Erscheinen des letzten Bandes um mehr als ein Jahrzehnt verzögerte. Umso heroischer das Engagement des Verlags der „New York Review of Books“ und aller Beteiligten für den neuen Anlauf und die vollständige Fassung. Immerhin neunhundert Seiten, so der Übersetzer Damion Searls, waren bisher nicht übersetzt, der Rest wurde gründlich überarbeitet.
Bei der Buchvorstellung im New Yorker Goethe-Institut wurde die Frage „warum jetzt?“ weder gestellt noch beantwortet. Wahrscheinlich gibt es auch keine Antwort außer dieser: Der Verlag hat es eben jetzt gewagt. Damion Searls hat, neben vielen anderen Dingen, die er tat, eben jetzt die Übersetzung des Riesenwerks abgeschlossen, das am Abend in zwei broschierten Bänden im Schuber für dreißig Dollar verkauft wurde. Ein Schnäppchen. Dazu gibt es bis zum Ende des Monats ein Filmprogramm, unter anderem mit Margarethe von Trottas Verfilmung, eine Zeitung, eine Installation, eine Playlist mit Songs der Zeit, eine interaktive Wanderung durch das New York der Gesine Cresspahl, der Hauptfigur, alles produziert, arrangiert, organisiert vom Goethe-Institut. Großer Bahnhof also, aber doch – wer wird das Buch lesen, das hier „Anniversaries“ heißt und von einem Autor stammt, den selbst in New York niemand kennt?









Die etwa sechzig Menschen, die ins Goethe-Institut gekommen waren, um den Übersetzer im Gespräch mit der Schriftstellerin Renata Adler und der Literaturwissenschaftlerin Liesl Schillinger zu hören, kauften zurückhaltend, aßen und tranken aber gern, was danach geboten wurde. Auch dafür wird das Goethe-Institut in New York geschätzt: Es gibt immer freie Drinks.















Dass niemand nach Sinn und Zweck, dem öffentlichen Interesse und dem Zeitbezug fragte, sondern sich alle damit zufriedengaben, über ein Buch informiert zu werden, das in seiner Anlage einmalig und seiner Zeit voraus war, das von Deutschland, und zwar von beiden Teilen, ebenso handelt wie von New York in jener Zeit und von seiner stolzesten Zeitung und den Nachrichten dort, immer wieder aus dem Vietnam-Krieg – es spricht nichts dagegen, das für ein Zeichen der Reinheit des literarischen Interesses zu nehmen. „Auf Augenhöhe“ mit Tolstoi nannte Searls das Kapitel, das während der Heuernte in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern spielt.








Und dann gab er den Zuhörern doch noch einen Hinweis darauf, was dieses Buch so wertvoll für einen Zeitgenossen macht – dass Gesine Cresspahl eine alleinerziehende Frau ist, eine Immigrantin, berufstätig und ständig aktuell über die Zeitläufte informiert und nachdenkend: Das ist eine großartige Frauenfigur, ein Vorbild, so Searls, umso mehr, als sie von einem Mann erfunden wurde. Das alte New York ersteht dadurch nicht wieder. Aber der Geist der Gesine Cresspahl ist angekommen.
-------------------------


I got to know Uwe via Fred Jordan at Grove Press for whom I was doing outside work in the early 60 and then did an interview with him in  New York and in Boston at my fellowMetamorphosis place and published the interview in Issue # 3, it has been translated into German and published by Suhrkamp; I myself have a PDF that Tom McGonigel made for me from the Issue # 3 in the NY Public Library. I saw Uwe then in Berlin and he was helpful in apprising me of the lay of the land of East German Lit circa 1970 where I was the first American Scout [for Sam Lawrence at Atlantic Monthly, and then for him at Knopf] to venture , Aufbau Verlag, a Herr Kaspar who told me had become a communist, not as so many did as Russian POWs, but as an American prisoner of war picking cotton in Arizona with what he described as American black slaves. One of the more memorable days I must say in every respect. And Aufbau then sent me all the books I wanted and I read them at my German haven that year, Villiprott, outside Godesberg, while my retired OSS/CIC/CIA CORS OF ENGINEERS  stepfather was memorably once once again engaged in spy work amongst all bevy of spies that circles the US First Secretaries abode, while getting himself a masters in German lit.

In Berlin Uwe was a severely depressed alcoholic and I always regretted, once I did a psychonalyis that Suhrkamp had not put him in contact with their own great author analyst Mitcherlich - [Inability to Mourn, the Fatherless Generation ]- and once more memorably in New York, early 70s, I gave him a ride back from a reading from TWO VIEWS at Columbia to the Iroquis Hotel, for those who don't like the stiff Algonquin fees. TWO VIEWS made me think about the spy business in Berlin, my mother had been such for the German 20th of jury resistance as of 1933, and finally been entrapped and fortuitously survived the siege of Berlin in her Gestapo prison; through her and my OSS stepfather I had made early acquaintance with Rainer Hillebrandt of the Kampgruppe gegen Unmenschlichkeit, a concentration camp survivor who had founded a group to fight their now operation by the Soviets, whom OSS/now CIA was turning into a terrorist organisation to blow up East German invfrastructure - and Rainer later ran the Checkpoint Charlie museum - and I - who had declined a CIA invitation in Berlin  in 1957 - wanted to talk a bit about all that with Uwe who - judging yby TWO VIEWS knew his way around these matters in Berlin - however, the mere mention of Rainer Hillenbrandt and Uwe leapt out of my Pontiac Firebird convertible, top up, and lumbered, his alcohol fattened being,  just like a Rhino was my impression,  toward the Iroquois. Deeply paranoid, and for reason judging by Kaspar's reaction when I divulged to him that his list of writers matched the one that Uwe had provided me.  No wonder of course that his wife might have an affair, writers are problematic husband and wives, but if they come home drunk at night... Also re-wrote Ursule Molinaro's pretty good translation of that extremely demanding text THIRD BOOK ABOUT for Fred, and it would be great if maybe the NYRB could do those first perfect novels as a boxed set???  Michael Roloff

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