A collection of vital autobiographical pre-WWI prose from the great German-Jewish writer
Never before translated into English, this trio of works finds one of the greatest German writers of the 20th century mythologizing her own pursuit of freedom in captivatingly original fiction. In The Peter Hille Book (1906), Else Lasker-Schüler offers an elegy for her arch-bohemian mentor. But this hypnotic blend of Nietzsche, fairy tale and paganism also celebrates the one Hille called ‘Tino’ – the author herself – and the electrifying uncertainties of the creative life. In the 1907 text The Nights of Tino of Baghdad she sends her alter ego on a heady voyage through an imagined ‘Orient’. From the banks of the Nile the narrative advances across a wide emotional landscape, using Muslim and Jewish motifs to explore the commonalities of Semitic identity. Finally, Lasker-Schüler’s avatar encounters dervishes, biblical figures and a 20-year-old foetus in The Prince of Thebes. Issued on the eve of World War One, this sequence of dark fables seethes with violence and eroticism, culminating in a great clash of civilizations in which Tino leads the charge. An insightful afterword details the genesis of these THREE PROSE WORKS in the context of the author’s tumultuous life.
Review @ My Crash CourseQ&A with James J. Conway @ SlowTravel BerlinReview @ SlowTravel BerlinElse Lasker-Schuler in 3 minutes
Most readily identified with the Expressionist movement, German-Jewish writer and artist Else Lasker-Schüler (1869-1945) was a major figure of early modernism. She claimed dual citizenship of Wilhelmine Germany and an invented poetic dominion in which she identified as `Tino' or the `Prince of Thebes' and refigured her bohemian associates as compatriots. Lasker-Schüler's creativity was an uninterrupted continuum of verse, prose, drama, art, performance, costume, correspondence and everyday life. The Weimar Republic offered a more sympathetic setting for her bold work and singular character, and in 1932 she won the country's top literary prize. But once the Nazis took power she was forced to flee, living in fraught circumstances in Zurich before settling in Jerusalem, where she died in 1945. While Else Lasker-Schüler's timeless poetry continues to win new devotees in English translation, her prose works are less known outside her native Germany.