Wallstein Verlag

Hugo Ball

The Flight from Time

728 pages, 13,8 x 23,0
ISBN: 978-3-89244-744-3 (2018)


German Version

The great book of remembrance by the founder of Dada, Hugo Ball, in a new edition with detailed annotations.

Rarely has an author represented such contradictory ideological and artistic positions as Hugo Ball. He started out as a doctoral student and Nietzsche adept, but shortly before his academic degree he moved to the theatre. This was followed by a phase as a bohemian literary figure with expressionist tendencies, which came to an abrupt end with the outbreak of the First World War. Ball put himself forward as a volunteer and, when he was denied enlistment for medical issues, went to the front on his own. Just a few days of experiencing the war at first hand were enough to make him a pacifist, and he crossed the frontier to Zurich. Here, Ball joined a circle of international anarchists before founding his own cabaret and creating Dadaism. When this new Ism started to make a career for itself, Ball had already moved on: to the editorial offices of a republican newspaper that demanded democratic conditions in Germany. However, he was disappointed with the revolutions it enforced – Ball turned to religion, firstly as a mystic with gnostic orientations, then as a devout Catholic.
Even for Ball, the question of how all this could be reconciled and explained was an urgent one, and for several years he had the idea of writing an autobiographical book. This project was finally realised with Die Flucht aus der Zeit [The Flight from Time], published shortly before his early death in 1927. In this work, Ball traces his own development in numerous notes, fragments, brief records and reflections. It is the fragmentary character of this book that makes it so unique: nothing is smoothed over, and the processes of thought are visible throughout.

Hugo Ball (1886-1927) was one of the founders of the Dada movement in Zurich during the First World War, a staunch pacifist and a strong critic of his time. A close friend of Hermann Hesse, he was his own first biographer.

Ernst Teubner, born in 1939, founder of the Hugo Ball Collection in Pirmasens, published the Hugo Ball Almanac since 1977. In 1986 he compiled the exhibition and catalogue to celebrate Ball’s centenary, and in 1992 he published a Hugo Ball bibliography.
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