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German Autumn

2011
Author:

Stig Dagerman
Translated by Robin Fulton Macpherson
Foreword by Mark Kurlansky

German Autumn

The first U.S. edition of Dagerman’s account of postwar life in Germany

First published in Sweden in 1947, German Autumn, a collection of Stig Dagerman’s articles on Germany immediately after the fall of the Third Reich, was unlike any other reporting at the time. Presented here in its first American edition, Dagerman’s essays on the tragic aftermath of war, suffering, and guilt are as hauntingly relevant today as they were sixty years ago.

Dagerman wrote with beautiful objectivity. Instead of emotive phrases, he uses a choice of facts, like bricks, to construct an emotion.

Graham Greene

In late 1946, Stig Dagerman was assigned by the Swedish newspaper Expressen to report on life in Germany immediately after the fall of the Third Reich. First published in Sweden in 1947, German Autumn, a collection of the articles written for that assignment, was unlike any other reporting at the time. While most Allied and foreign journalists spun their writing on the widely held belief that the German people deserved their fate, Dagerman disagreed and reported on the humanness of the men and women ruined by the war—their guilt and suffering. Dagerman was already a prominent writer in Sweden, but the publication and broad reception of German Autumn throughout Europe established him as a compassionate journalist and led to the long-standing international influence of the book.

Presented here in its first American edition with a compelling new foreword by Mark Kurlansky, Dagerman’s essays on the tragic aftermath of war, suffering, and guilt are as hauntingly relevant today amid current global conflict as they were sixty years ago.

German Autumn

Stig Dagerman (1923–1954) was regarded as the most talented young writer of the Swedish postwar generation. By age twenty-six he had published four novels, a collection of short stories, and four full-length plays, in addition to German Autumn.

Robin Fulton Macpherson is a Scottish poet and translator who has lived and worked in Norway since 1973.

Mark Kurlansky is a New York Times best-selling author of many books, including Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World and Salt: A World History.

German Autumn

Dagerman wrote with beautiful objectivity. Instead of emotive phrases, he uses a choice of facts, like bricks, to construct an emotion.

Graham Greene

German Autumn is one of the best collections ever written about the aftermath of war. It is on par with John Reed’s classic articles from the Soviet Union as well as with Edgar Snow’s articles about the great political revolution in China. Stig Dagerman depicts the tragic realities of post–World War II Germany with astonishing clarity and artistic skillfulness. He provides the reader with a profound insight, which ultimately is the story of every war. To anyone interested in understanding what great journalism means, German Autumn is indispensable. It should be compulsory reading for all young people who might consider becoming a journalist, and it is as alive as it was when first published in 1947. Read it.

Henning Mankell

There are some writers (Kafka and Lorca immediately spring to mind) who come to enjoy the status of saint; their lives and deaths constitute statements about existence and its proper priorities, and the words left behind are continually transfigured by our knowledge of them, indeed acquire on this account a kind of talismanic power. A saint of this type, particularly for his compatriots, is the Swedish writer Stig Dagerman.

Paul Binding, Times Literary Supplement

German Autumn is a very important book and it is a very good thing that an English language version is becoming available for Americans. We need this book.

Mark Kurlansky, from the Foreword

Worthy reading, especially for those for whom the war is mostly a distant event in black and white.

American Jewish World

German Autumn is an important addition to war reportage, and, given the ongoing civil wars and other conflicts around the world, it is also a lasting testament to the misery inflicted on civilians by military campaigns.

The Quarterly Conversation

Beyond the language and imagery, German Autumn’s shining attribute is the way it makes the reader think. Dagerman's journalism training makes for a straightforward reporting of the scenery around him, which allows readers the chance to decide for themselves what's meaningful about what is presented on the page.

Truthout.org

German Autumn

Foreword: Pitiless Fall
Mark Kurlansky
Introduction
Robin Fulton Macpherson

1. German Autumn
2. Ruins
3. Bombed Cemetery
4. Poor Man’s Cake
5. The Art of Sinking
6. The Unwelcome
7. The Rivals
8. Lost Generation
9. The Course of Justice
10. Cold Day in Munich
11. Through the Forest of the Hanged Boys
12. Return to Hamburg
13. Literature and Suffering

German Autumn

www.dagerman.us

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UMP blog - Our need for consolation: Reading Stig Dagerman (by Lo Dagerman)

Finally, the writings of Swedish author Stig Dagerman are becoming more available in the English language. Several volumes, some in new translations, are currently being published in the USA: German Autumn, Island of the Doomed, A Burnt Child (forthcoming) from the University of Minnesota Press, and a short story collection by Godine (see links below). Dagerman’s entire body of work is available in French, and a good part in Italian, German and Spanish, and the goal, as Siri Hustvedt suggested at a recent Dagerman seminar in Stockholm, is to eventually have all of his works available in English.

Read the full article.