Wallstein Verlag

Emmy Hennings

The Branding / The Eternal Song

Edited by Nicola Behrmann and Christa Baumberger, with the cooperation of Simone Sumpf

508 pages, 12 x 19
ISBN: 978-3-8353-3040-5 (2017)


German Version

Two moving texts about the fates of women at the beginning of the 1920s which, a century later, have lost nothing of their disturbing effect.

Following the publication of her second novel »Das Brandmal« (The Branding) in the year 1920, Hennings was considered one of the most significant women writers of her generation. The ­radical and self-destructive honesty of the girl Dagny, who wanders restlessly from one German town to another, sometimes finding herself forced into prostitution, was compared with the novels of Hamsun and Dostojewskij, as well as the »Confessions« of Augustinus and Rousseau. Even today, the novel reads like the haunting testimony of a life of oppression, having lost none of its relevance. The short story »Das ewige Lied« (The Eternal Song), published in 1923, is a feverish monologue rendered by a dying woman; in many ways it is a continuation of »Das Brandmal«. Almost forgotten by literary history, this work is republished here. The second volume of the annotated student edition contains both texts, edited since their first publication, with the addition of a detailed commentary. A comprehensive collection of reviews documents the impressive literary influences, especially relating to »Das Brandmal«. The ­epilogue provides a well-founded appraisal of the biographical background of both works, along with the history of their reception.

Emmy Hennings (1885 –1948), born in Flensburg, was originally an actress and elocutionist at variety and cabaret performances; later she became a lyricist and authoress. After the death of her husband Hugo Ball, she became his biographer and living inheritance. Many of her texts were published in various newspapers, or have been out of print for a long period of time. With this volume, they can now be rediscovered.
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