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This report is taken from PN Review 33, Volume 10 Number 1, September - October 1983.

Anna Seghers Michael Hulse
On 1 June the East German novelist ANNA SEGHERS died in East Berlin at the age of 82. Anna Seghers was born in Mainz in 1900 and achieved fame in 1928 with her fiction Aufstand der Fischer von St Barbara, for which she received the Kleist Prize. In the same year she joined the Communist Party, and in 1933 was first arrested and then, upon her release, made her way to France, which remained her base until the War. The first chapters of her major work, Das siebte Kreuz, were published as early as 1939 in Moscow, and the complete novel was then issued in Mexico in 1942 after her flight the previous year. This first important novel dealing with concentration camps and anti-fascist resistance was filmed and made Anna Seghers a figure of international importance; it also marked the peak of her career. In 1947, the year in which she was awarded the Buchner Prize for Das siebte Kreuz, she settled in East Berlin, where she devoted her fictional labours with ever greater ardour to the building up of the socialist state and a socialist literature. She was for many years the president of the East German Deutscher Schriftstellerverband and received many East German awards; in the west her works were not widely published until after 1962, and as late as 1981 controversy flared when she was made an honorary citizen of the town of her birth. Her later works have not been highly thought of; nonetheless, her pre-eminence among ...


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