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Gertrud Kolmar: A Literary Life

Gertrud Kolmar: A Literary Life

By Dieter Kühn
Edited by Linda Marianiello and Franz Vote

Linda Marianiello here translates into English for the first time Dieter Kühn’s highly praised and definitive biography of one of Germany’s greatest poets, Gertrud Kolmar. Kolmar carried German-language poetry to new heights, speaking truth in a time when many poets collapsed in the face of increasing Nazi repression. Born Gertrud Käthe Chodziesner in Berlin in 1894, she completed her first collection, Poems, in 1917. She took her pen name, Kolmar, from the name of the town where her family originated.

Kolmar’s third collection of poems appeared in 1938 but soon disappeared in the wake of the overall repression of Jewish authors. At the time, she served as secretary to her father, Ludwig Chodziesner, a prominent lawyer. In 1941, the Nazis compelled her to work in a German armaments factory. Even as a forced laborer, the strength of her poetic voice grew, perhaps reaching its highest level before her deportation to Auschwitz. From gentle nature verses to stirring introspection, these are poems in which we can still find ourselves today. Both she and her father died in Nazi concentration camps, he in 1942, she the following year. The translation of Dieter Kühn’s biography conveys the tragic, yet courageous, life of a great poet to an English-speaking audience.

Hardcover
284 pages
6.1 x 1.5 x 9.2 inches
Northwestern University Press
ISBN 9780810128798

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