This book undertakes a critique of Hermynia Zur Muhlen's prose fiction. It uses her biography and contemporary literature as a context for analysing the content and form of her work, and traces continuities and changes in her treatment of political, social, religious, and gender issues. To date, critics have mostly treated Zur Muhlen in terms of her sensational biography or as an author of socialist fairy tales or exile literature. A full investigation of her work in different genres has been hindered by traditional prejudices about the canon, high art and popular culture and politics. The study begins with Zur Muhlen's writing in the Weimar Republic. The first section examines her Marchen, Krimis, Madchenliteratur and autobiography in the context of left-wing literary debates and contemporary inter-war literature. It shows how Zur Muhlen viewed literature primarily as a political tool and sought to appropriate popular forms of literature to convey socialist ideas to a wide and varied audience in an entertaining fashion. The second section is devoted to Zur Muhlen's writing in exile.
It discusses Zur Muhlen's early exile fiction written on arrival in Austria, and argues that Zur Muhlen's attitudes were defined by anti-fascism and her disillusionment with Communism. By tracing continuities and changes in her treatment of social, religious, and gender issues from earlier works, we can assess how exile impacted on her writing and obliged her to experiment with new forms and genres and to recycle old material. It goes on to investigate Zur Muhlen's 'Austrian Forsyte Saga' and how her conception of it changed in the light of the collapse of central Europe at the end of the 1930s and further exile.
Publisher: Oxford University Press