Wir werden es schon zuwege bringen, das Leben: Briefe an Erika und Klaus Mann

Wir werden es schon zuwege bringen, das Leben: Annemarie Schwarzenbach an Erika und Klaus Mann : Briefe, 1930-1942 (German Edition) - Annemarie Schwarzenbach

"I want no relapses to the days when I always needed Eri: to get away from my mom, to get a divorce from Claude, to have a focus in life, to overcome the morphine, to heal the leg, to establish Sils, to legitimize me to myself, ... I want to be useful, mature, reliable, to be a friend to Eri instead of a problem child." 

 

(Original text: "Ich will keine Rückfälle, in jene Zeit, als ich Eri immer nur brauchte: um von meiner Mama wegzukommen, um mich von Claude scheiden zu lassen, um einen Lebens-Mittelpunkt zu haben, um das Morphium zu überwinden, um das Bein zu heilen, um Sils zu gründen, um mich vor mir selbst zu legitimieren,... ich will brauchbar, erwachsen, zuverlässig, für Eri ein Freund sein statt eines Sorgenkindes.")

 

Much of the content of the letters from Schwarzenbach to Erika and Klaus Mann focuses on day to day activities of Schwarzenbach's life between 1932 and 1942 - her studies, her travels, her writing routine, making plans for meeting up, etc. All in all quite mundane and not that interesting - just as you would expect from a regular exchange of messages between friends.

 

However, the letters also contain those snippets of information that reveal more about the internal thoughts and ideas of both the sender and the recipient: their disgust with the rise of fascism, their struggle to find acceptance - an audience even - in a world that is slowly turning towards catastrophe. 

 

What the collection also shows is Schwarzenbach's personal journey from a conflicted young person to a thoughtful adult who finally seems to have found her calling. 

 

Many events in her life and people surrounding her are only hinted at, and if unfamiliar with the biographies of AS and the Mann siblings or the historical background, the letters will be tough to make sense of. On the other hand, for readers who have been captivated by her books and want to know more about the thoughts and ideas of AS, even the duller parts of this collection are a treat. I'd still recommend to have a Schwarzenbach biography at hand as there are no footnotes or other explanations to the letters.

 

For example, in one of the letters to Klaus, AS warns him to be careful of "the devil-worshipper". I presume this is a reference to Gustav Gruendgens (Erika's actor husband who became famous for his portrayal of Mephisto), whom Klaus would later base his novel "Mephisto" on. This is one of the more obvious references.   

 

What really irked me about this edition, tho, is that there were so many spelling and typesetting mistakes. It really needed proofreading.