Additional Book Information
Series: NYRB Classics
Publication Date: June 15, 2021
The Dead Girls' Class TripSelected Stories
by Anne Seghers, translated from the German and edited by Margot Bettauer Dembo, introduction by Ingo Schulze
An NYRB Classics Original
June 2021 selection of the NYRB Classics Book Club
Best known for the anti-fascist novel The Seventh Cross and the existential thriller Transit, Anna Seghers was also a gifted writer of short fiction. The stories she wrote throughout her life reflect her political activism as well as her deep engagement with myth; they are also some of her most formally experimental work. This selection of Seghers’s best stories, written between 1925 and 1965, displays the range of her creativity over the years. It includes her most famous short fiction, such as the autobiographical “The Dead Girls’ Class Trip,” and others, like “Jans Is Going to Die,” that have been translated into English here for the first time. There are psychologically penetrating stories about young men corrupted by desperation and women bound by circumstance, as well as enigmatic tales of bewilderment and enchantment based on myths and legends, like “The Best Tales of Woynok, the Thief,” “The Three Trees,” and “Tales of Artemis.” In her stories, Seghers used the German language in especially unconventional and challenging ways, and Margot Bettauer Dembo’s sensitive and skilled translation preserves this distinction.
Anna Seghers was an admirable woman in many ways, but above all she was a remarkable humanist: she became a model of cultural resistance and ideological struggle who cut across borders, and who, still today, thanks to her work, transcends time and lives on in our memory.
Seghers was concerned with major questions, and she pursued those questions in her fiction relentlessly. What does fascism do to a person’s soul? she asks again and again. . . . Seghers’ stories are also moving and deeply intelligent.
Seghers's masterly title story, written near the end of the war, casts an idyllic school outing in a dark pall, anticipating the fates of the innocent children. The result is classic European storytelling at its most potent.
Although they were penned between 1925 and 1965, there is an immediacy to these tales that cannot be ignored. . . Translator Margot Bettauer Dembo is an excellent guide through the twists and turns and small delights of language on every page.
—Katie Yee, Lit Hub