Irmgard Keun (1905–1982)

Autor von Das kunstseidene Mädchen

10 Werke 1,247 Mitglieder 37 Rezensionen Lieblingsautor von 1 Lesern

Werke von Irmgard Keun



Gebräuchlichste Namensform
Keun, Irmgard
Andere Namen
Tralow, Charlotte
Melaten-Friedhof, Köln, Deutschland
Berlin, Deutschland
Köln, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Deutschland
Berlin, Deutschland (Geburt)
Köln, Deutschland
Greifswald, Deutschland
Hamburg, Deutschland
Ostend, Belgien (Flucht aus Deutschland)
Niederlande (Flucht aus Deutschland)
Tralow, Johannes (Ehemann|Geschieden)
Roth, Joseph (Liebhaber)
Zweig, Stefan (Freund)
Preise und Auszeichnungen
Marieluise-Fleißer-Preis (1981)
Irmgard Keun was born in Berlin and attended a Lutheran girls' school in Cologne. She supported herself as a stenographer while originally pursuing an acting career. In 1931, at age 26, she burst onto the German literary scene with two radical novels that became bestsellers: Gilgi--One of Us, and The Artificial Silk Girl. They portrayed young women shedding conventional roles and adopting more modern and urban lives. The Nazi regime called the books "anti-German" and blacklisted them. After a fruitless lawsuit against the Gestapo for lost royalties, Irmgard Keun was forced into a wandering exile around Europe. She befriended a number of fellow German émigré writers and intellectuals including Stefan Zweig and Heinrich Mann, and was romantically involved with Joseph Roth. In 1940, she arranged for a newspaper to report that she had committed suicide. Using a false passport in the name of Charlotte Tralow, she then managed to smuggle herself back into Germany, where she survived the war. During this turbulent period, she produced two masterworks: After Midnight (1937), now considered one of the most powerful first-hand portrayals of life under Nazism, and Child of All Nations (1938). In the 1960s, she spent several years in a psychiatric hospital in Bonn. At the end of her life, she was finally recognized as one of Germany's groundbreaking and most courageous authors.



I followed up on [The Seventh Cross] by reading this slim novel. Again, this is set in 1930s Germany, as Hitler is in power and life is changing for everyone. Told through the eyes of a young woman, Sanna begins the novel interested in hanging out with her friends and flirting with men and giving sharp, pointed, sometimes humorous commentary on the new political regime. She obviously doesn't support Hitler, but she also isn't yet seeing the ramifications that the changes in Germany will have on her life. By the end of the book, that has changed. Friends of hers are getting denounced and turned in, she is pulled in for questioning, people are dying, and she is fleeing.

A moving and important novel that is also enjoyable and quick to read. I definitely recommend and appreciate the LTers who brought it to my attention.
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1 abstimmen
japaul22 | 12 weitere Rezensionen | Jan 15, 2024 |
Berlin, late 1930's. Hitler is in power, adored by the masses. 19 year old Sanna lives with her brother in Berlin and is "finding herself." She narrates the story of her life about town in a sort of innocent way, and through a lens of perhaps willful ignorance we glimpse through her eyes some of the oppression and horrors that are beginning to unfold. Her best friend Gerti loves a Jewish man, but cannot be open about it. Her bother, who is a writer, has his books banned.

The book really captures the feel of what it must have been like to be in the midst of a society caught in the mass hysteria of worshipping a cult figure.

I would like to read more by this author.


4 stars
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arubabookwoman | 12 weitere Rezensionen | Dec 31, 2023 |
[Bonjour tristesse] dans les années 30 en Allemagne, c’est un peu ce que j’ai pensé pendant toute la lecture de ce livre. Je n’ai pas beaucoup aimé Bonjour tristesse, et je ne suis pas sûre d’avoir d’avoir éprouvé beaucoup d’empathie pour cette Suzon qui semble ne souhaiter qu’une chose, à savoir grandir dans l’insouciance d’un milieu privilégié, qui ne serait fait que de fêtes, de sortie dans toutes les tavernes possibles de Francfort, de belles robes et d’éternelles questions sur les hommes et sur l’amour. Certes, lorsque tout cela se passe alors que le Führer visite la ville et que, dans cet ordre nouveau chacun cherche soit à se faire sa place au soleil soit à se faire oublier, l’histoire devient tout de suite moins frivole. Car la question est là : comment faire les expériences de la jeunesse et devenir adulte dans une société qui ne connaît qu’une seule vérité.
J’ai cru pendant toute ma lecture que ce livre avait été écrit dans les années 70, l’édition de ma traduction française datant de 1981, et ce n’est qu’au moment d’écrire cette note de lecture que je m’aperçois de mon erreur, puisque ce livre a été publié en 1937 par une autrice allemande en exil, ayant eu un certain succès avant d’être mise au pilori par le nouveau régime (ce qui lui donne plus d’un point commun avec le personnage d’Algin dans le roman).

C’est donc un livre que je n’ai pas beaucoup apprécié au cours de ma lecture mais qui, par son histoire et sa singularité (celle d’être un des rares livres témoignant à chaud du climat délétère des années d’immédiate avant-guerre en Allemagne), devient intéressant pour lui-même. J’ai en particulier été marquée par le fait qu’Irmgard Keun ne laisse pas beaucoup d’espoir quand à la façon d’échapper à ce contrôle grandissant des vies et des esprits : la fuite semble la seule alternative possible. Les moyens de fuir sont divers, mais le résultat est le même, quitter cette Allemagne qui étouffe l’insouciant, atrophie l’artiste et muselle l’intellectuel.
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raton-liseur | 12 weitere Rezensionen | Dec 26, 2023 |
After Midnight was originally published in German in Amsterdam in 1937. Keun was by this time on the Nazi's black list and it was by no means easy to get her book published in Holland. It is not a political book in that it is written in the first person by a nineteen year old girl who has little interest in politics. It tells the story of Sanna; a pretty girl living amongst middle class German citizens of Frankfurt, who are by this time all politicised by the Third Reich led by Hitler. He has become a god-like figure and all life centres around him highlighted by his cavalcades through German towns and his speeches broadcast everywhere on the Radio.

It is a love story; Sanna is in love with Franz who has had to leave the city to escape possible arrest after being denounced by a rival shopkeeper and now his letters have stopped arriving. Her friend Liska is married to Algin, but Liska has set her cap at Heini who is a member of the SA. Gerti is in love with Dieter Aaron, who has been designated as a third class citizen due to his being of mixed race and Gerti must be careful not to show him affection in public. Sanna is not a well educated girl, but has learnt after being denounced for making off hand remarks about Hitler, that it is not a pleasant experience to be summoned to the local offices of the Gestapo, she was lucky in getting away with a caution. Many of her friends and acquaintances belong to the National Socialist party and she knows now to be careful about what she says. She is disparaging about some of them, who try to be super patriotic by claiming to have read Mein Kampf; Sanna says they are probably all like her; having a copy in the house, but rarely opening it. It is a world of intrigue that ordinary citizens have by and large accepted.

"Everyone has got power over everyone else. Everyone can get everyone else locked up. There are not many who can withstand the temptation to make use of that kind of power."

Sanna is one of the few who does not use this power, she has her own set of values and she tries to do good by others.

The adulation towards Hitler is demonstrated, when he makes a visit to Frankfurt and Sanna describes the event. She is annoyed that she cannot cross the square, but a friend takes her in hand and she is led up to a crowded balcony with a good view of the cavalcade. The book builds towards a climax with a party organised by Liska; who is desperate to attract the attentions of Heini, Sanna helps her with the preparations and her lover Frantz arrives unexpectedly.

The circle of people milling around the young women, Sanna, Liska, Gerti and others spend much of their leisure time in the local beer halls, there are always Party members, soldiers belonging to the SA or the SS in abundance willing to spend their money. There are a few Jewish people who are still tolerated, because of their usefulness, but they tend to congregate in one of the few beer halls designated for them. Some are making preparations to leave Germany; all are living a ghost like lifestyle, trying not to get noticed. It is a warped and crazy world, but many have adapted and are using it to their own advantage. Sanna is slowly being suffocated.

Sanna's easy going telling of her story, skates over the difficulties for many people at that time, but they are there, under the surface. The patriotism generated by Hitler and the National Socialist Party has swept many people along and changed their view of the world, those that criticise are denounced and become collateral damage. If you ever wondered what it would be like living in a fascist state, then this book would give you a glimpse into the reality.

This is a book from the LRB's list of books to read and it was recommended by Ali Smith - 4 stars.
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1 abstimmen
baswood | 12 weitere Rezensionen | Dec 14, 2023 |



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