Concert

9780803229006: Hardback
Release Date: 1st August 1994

Dimensions: 119 x 203

Number of Pages: 164

Series European Women Writers

UNP - Nebraska

Concert

Written by
Else Lasker-Schuler
,
Translated by and Introduced by
Jean M. Snook
Hardback / £39.00

Concert was one of the last books published by a Jew in Germany before Hitler came to power. The work is autobiographical, a collection of essays and vignettes that both entertain and engage the reader at a deeper level. Like Robert Schumann's piano suites, each in itself a perfect concert, Else Lasker-Schüler's Concert contains pieces that vary greatly in theme, mood, length, and complexity, yet they are unified by the medium and by the distinct and lyrical personality of the artist. Lasker-Schüler is able to transform and transcend the everyday scenery and events that are her points of departure. She makes magical an unmagical corner of Germany, discerns the miraculous in the neglected and ignored, and finds wisdom and comfort in prayer and cosmic perspective.

Lasker-Schüler was attuned to the world and in some ways uncannily prophetic. It may come as a surprise to some readers that Concert, published in German in 1932, contains a warning about the climatic dangers of interfering 'with the merry green leaf people who give us ozone and the breath of life.' With her respect for the natural environment and her emphasis on spiritual development rather than the materialistic, Lasker-Schüler's voice remains relevant to our own times. A recent German edition of her complete works has proven immensely popular.

Prior to the Third Reich, Lasker-Schüler had a well-established reputation in her native Germany as a poet, dramatist, and prose writer, as well as for her work in the visual arts, and she received the Kleist Prize for Literature. As a Jew, though, she was increasingly threatened by 'people wearing swastikas,' and was forced to flee the country in 1933, never to return. She died in exile in Palestine in 1945.

This is the first English translation of any of Lasker-Schüler's prose: a challenging task because she includes sections in dialect, poems, numerous neologisms, witty alterations of German sayings, and structural emulations with phonetic echoes of famous German art songs.

Jean M. Snook is an associate professor of German at Memorial University of Newfoundland.