By Anna Seghers
Translated by Douglas Irving
ISBN: 978-1-935084-94-5 (pbk.)
ISBN: 978-1-935084-96-9 (ebook)
166 pages: $16.00
October 15, 2016
Aboard a cargo ship sailing from Brazil to the German Democratic Republic in the mid-1950s, two men strike up a conversation: newly-qualified doctor, Ernst Triebel, and engineer Franz Hammer, two GDR citizens of contrasting character, brought together by chance on an Atlantic crossing. During the next three weeks Triebel will relate to Hammer what amounts to his life story. Hammer, a reluctant sea passenger, is initially uninterested, but once the love interest of the story’s subtitle enters the fray he is gripped until the memorable climax to Triebel’s narrative.
With loving attention to detail Anna Seghers describes people and events aboard the ship as the realistic backdrop to an epic yet deeply human story about individual struggle for identity and belonging. Seghers’s carefully crafted and controlled narrative is a paean to the art of storytelling.
The reader is invited aboard Seghers’s borderless maritime community from the first page to share in this timeless meditation on the joy and pain of human existence.
At the time of its publication in 1971, Crossing was described as the culmination of Anna Seghers’s creative endeavors. A committed activist and writer who lived through many of the twentieth century’s most horrific political and historical events and tackled them in deeply humanist writing, Seghers’s exile literature from the 1940s, in particular The Seventh Cross (1942/46) and Transit (1944), have been widely translated and received international acclaim. But her later work, written as a citizen of the German Democratic Republic, remains largely overlooked in English translation, until now. While the earlier work was set in the horror of World War II, this immaculately crafted novel seeks to counter global polarity during the Cold War era and demonstrates Seghers’s firmly internationalist outlook.
“When I speak of Anna Seghers I cannot but think of those who, alongside her, belong to the great writers who have come together out of love for truth, freedom, culture, peace and socialism, yes out of love for the fate of humanity.”
“… in terms of the quality of her narrative style and scope of her narrative vision, Seghers was the greatest German woman writer of the twentieth century.”
“Your eyes are used to seeing, perceiving and understanding things unseen, things distant or lost. You capture them in your stories…”