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Regarding the Young Lukacs or the Powers

of Love: Anna Seghers and Thomas Mann

Helen Fehervary

Thomas Mann's keen interest in the essays Georg Lukacs devoted to

him over the decades, starting with a review of Royal Highness in 1909,
is well-known. We also know of Mann's reluctance — aside from his
generous calls for safe passage on behalf of the revolutionary Lukacs —
to acknowledge his full debt to the philosopher and critic, and on a
deeper level, his hesitation to enter into a personal dialogue with Lukacs
about the Geistesverwandtschaft [intellectual affinity] that clearly
existed between them in matters of modem art and aesthetics.' In 1918
Mann notably lauded the treatment of "burgherly nature and / 'art pour
I'art" in the Storm essay ("The Bourgeois Way of Life and Art for
Art's Sake") in Soul and Form, one that "seemed to be the best that had
ever been said on this paradoxical subject, and that I feel I have a spe-
cial right to cite, since the author was perhaps thinking of me — and at
one place expressly mentioned me. Doubtless we have special claim to
the knowledge to which we ourselves have contributed by our exist-
ence, and when we accept it as our own, we are somewhat in the posi-
tion of a father who smilingly lets himself be taught by his leamed

1. Mann was a signatory to the appeal "Zur Rettung von Georg Lukics" that
appeared on 12 November 1919 in the Berliner Tageblatt; when Lukdes was threatened
with expulsion from Vienna in 1929 Mann wrote a personal letter on his behalf to the
Austrian Chancellor Ignaz Seipel. For accounts of Mann's avoidance of Lukacs during
the 1955 Schiller commemoration in Jena (their first encounter since 1922 and in fact
their last), see Lukacs, Record of a Life, ed. Istvan Eorsi, trans. Rodney Livingstone (Lon-
don: Verso, 1983) 95; and Hans Mayer, Thomas Mann (Frankfurt/Main: Suhrkamp, 1980)
82 Seghers and Mann on Young Lukacs

son."^ In her study of the Lukacs-Mann relationship Judith Marcus

argues that if Mann, "probably not unintentionally," failed to mention
here the Philippe essay "Longing and Form" that appeared (prior to its
inclusion in Soul and Form) in early 1911 in Die Neue Rundschau, of
which Mann was a "subscriber and avid reader," it was in fact this essay
that profoundly influenced the conception of Death in Venice on which
Mann began work in autumn 1911.^
Moreover there have been the speculations, meanwhile verified, that
when writing his novel of 1924 the author of The Magic Mountain
modelled the figure of his Jewish Jesuit — "Like many ingenious Jews,
Naphta was by instinct at once revolutionary and aristocrat"'' — in large
part on Lukacs whom he had read since 1911 but had met only once, in
January 1922 in Vienna. There, at the request of Lukacs's father, presi-
dent of the Hungarian National Bank and patron of the arts Jozsef von
Lukacs, whose house guests he and his wife had just been in Budapest,
Mann bade the politically exiled son come to his suite at the Hotel
Imperial. Fifty years later Lukacs recalled: "In the main, we discussed
the problematic situation of art, the mission and function of art, espe-
cially of the literary art, in that period. About the historico-philosophi-
cal particularities of that talk, I cannot say much anymore —
understandably. [...] As to the political role that I had played during the
events in Hungary in 1919 — we did not really go into that."^ Also
much later, Mann's widow Katia remembered the meeting as a long lec-
ture on Lukacs's part to which her husband listened politely.^ This fam-
ily account corresponds to the version of Leo Naphta's derivation that
was already propagated in the 1920s. Based on interviews with Mann,
the authorized biography of 1925 by Arthur Eloesser notes that for this
particular figure "inspired reality" lent the author of The Magic Moun-
tain a "symbolic physiognomy, that of an ugly little Jew, a raving the-
orist and steeled logician who, on one occasion, defended [to Mann],

2. Mann, Reflections of a Nonpolitical Man, trans. Walter D. Morris (New York:

Fredericic Ungar, 1983)72.
3. Judith Marcus, Georg Lukacs and Thomas Mann: A Study in the Sociology of
Literature (Amherst: U of Massachusetts P, 1987) 30-31.
4. Thomas Mann, Der Zauberberg (Frankfurt/Main: Fischer, 1967) 467-68. My
(literal) translation. Cf. Mann, The Magic Mountain, trans. H.T. Lowe-Porter (New York:
Knopf, 1967) 443: "Like many gifted people of his race, Naphta was both natural aristo-
crat and natural revolutionary." Unless indicated otherwise all translations are my own.
5. Lukacs in conversation with Judith Marcus, 7 May 1971; quoted in Marcus 68.
6. Katia Mann, Unwritten Memories (New York: Knopf, 1975) 72.
Helen Fehervary 83

in a dangerously ingenious combination, every absolutist and anti-indi-

vidualistic regime from the counter-reformation and Jesuitism up to
communist revolution and Leninism."
Mann was not the only public figure whose impression of the philoso-
pher-revolutionary warranted his special attention. Lenin as is well-
known upbraided Lukacs in his "Left-Wing Communism — An Infan-
tile Disorder" and again at the Third Congress of the Comintern. Nor
was Mann alone in basing a literary character on the young Lukacs
whose History and Class Consciousness of 1923 whetted the interest of
left intellectuals throughout Europe just as he was being sidelined
within his own Party, and with the advent of Stalinism and the fiasco of
the Blum-Theses of 1928/29, became virtually isolated. Instead of sup-
porting the Comintern's push for revolutionary socialism in Hungary, the
Blum-Theses advocated a "democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and
peasantry" whose "immediate concrete content [...] does not go beyond
bourgeois society."^ The Hungarian novels in which Lukacs figures in a
prominent way reflect the parameters of this very Party controversy, that
is, the split between the Lukacs-Landler and Bela Kun factions that was
already nascent during the Council Republic on whose Revolutionary
Council Lukacs served as Peoples' Commissar for Education.^
But it was left to the German writer Anna Seghers to take up the
cause of Lukacs and his fellow emigres in the wake of the scandal
incurred by The Magic Mountain. In 1925 Seghers had married the
Hungarian philosopher Laszlo Radvanyi who was one of the youngest
members of the Budapest Sunday Circle and a devoted follower of
Lukacs; in 1927 he became the director ofthe Marxist Workers School
in Berlin. If Lukacs remained diplomatically silent about his humiliation

7. Arthur Eloesser, Thomas Mann: Sein Leben und Werk (Berlin: S. Fisciier, 1925)
8. Quoted in Michael Lowy, Georg Lukacs: From Romanticism to Bolshevism,
trans. Patrick Camiiler (London: New Left Books, 1979) 198.
9. E.g. Ervin Sinko, Optimistdk: Tortenyelmi regeny 1918/19-bdl (Optimists: An
historical novel of 1918/19), 2 vols. (Novi Sad: Forum, 1965); Bela Illes, Die Generat-
probe: Der Roman der ungarischen Revolution [trans, of Eg a Tisza; later published in
German as Brennende Theifi] (Berlin: Intemationaler Arbeiter-Verlag, 1929). For Lukacs's
positive assessment of Sinko's novel, see Record of a Life, 55. Sinko wrote his novel fairly
early but failed to find a publisher until after 1945. On this see his Roman eines Romans:
Moskauer Tagebuch 1935-37 (Berlin: Das Arsenal, 1991). Two later novels also cast the
Lukacs of 1918-19 as a fictional figure, the one by Lukacs's sister "Sundayer" and life-
long friend Anna Leznai: Spatherbst in Eden (Karlsruhe: Stahlberg, 1965); the other by his
adversary JozsefLengyel: f^.segra^;'wfca (Budapest: Magveto, 1972).
84 Seghers and Mann on Young Lukdcs

by the elder German writer (whose stature he elevated in each subse-

quent essay he devoted to him), Seghers was undeterred in her lifelong
disdain for the man and her indifference to his work.
"That Doktor Faustus, that's just elevated colportage,"'^ she once
remarked to Stephan Hermlin who happened to be an admirer of Mann.
(Se;ghers's own novel of this time. The Dead Stay Young, written in
Mexican exile just before her return to Germany in 1947, is a political
reckoning with National Socialism that traces its origins to Freikorps
activities in 1918-19 and the murders of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Lie-
bknecht.) Seghers' antipathy for Mann nonetheless may have struck a
chord in Hermlin as these two writers, neither of them due to their Jew-
ish heritage entirely comfortable in the GDR (nor possibly elsewhere in
Germany for that matter), exchanged private views over the years. As
Hermlin recalled in 1994, shortly before his death, Seghers harbored "in
her soul a deep hate for Thomas Mann," one that "may have had to do
witli Mann's difficuh relationship to Jews" since he "had a Jewish wife,
and thus had half-Jewish children, and he was homosexual."''
Seghers, like Mann, was influenced by late nineteenth-century tradi-
tions of prose — Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Flaubert, and particularly in her
case Joseph Conrad. Politically and philosophically, however, they were
worlds apart. Given her Jewish heritage, identity and interests, like
many of her contemporaries she would have noted the stereotyping of
Jews in Mann's early "family" stories,'^ as well as the allusions to
Arthur Holitscher and Gustav Mahler suggested respectively by Detlev
Spinell and Gustav Aschenbach in "Tristan" and "Death in Venice." But
his depiction of Leo Naphta as a malevolently ugly "Eastem" Jew
whose "instinctive" ingenuity spawns fanatical fantasies of terror must
surely have outraged her since it struck a personal blow not only at
Lukacs whom she admired, but by implication at all those who shared
in his fate, among them her own husband.
As is well-known, a significantly large number of the leaders of the
Hungarian Council Republic, as well as practically all the members of
the Sunday Circle, were Jews. In response to the wave of anti-Semitic
retaliations under the Horthy regime against the so-called "Jewish Red

10. Eberhard Rohner, "Nicht gleichwertig, aber verwandt: Gesprach mit Stephan
Hermlin," Argonautenschiff: Jahrbuch der Anna-Seghers-Gesellschaft 4 (1995): 159.
11. ROhner, "Gesprach mit Stephan Hermlin" 158-59.
12. E.g. "Der Wille zum Gluck," "Luischen," "Walsungenblut" as well as "Konig-
liche Hoheit."
Helen Fehervary 85

terror," the flight of up to 100,000 people from Hungary after August

1919 marked the exodus of the greater part of its progressive Jewish
population, and with it the demise of what had been a vibrant Hungar-
ian avantgarde. The subsequent careers of a Laszlo Moholy-Nagy or an
Alexander Korda hardly compensated for the fate of the majority that
lived for years from hand to mouth, many having to abandon their intel-
lectual or artistic pursuits altogether. Seghers's husband Radvanyi, for
instance, having obtained his doctorate at Heidelberg under Karl Jas-
pers with a dissertation on chiliasm awarded summa cum laude, admit-
ted in a letter to a former teacher in Hungary that "my Hungarian-ness
and Jewish-ness alike prevent my success [in finding academic employ-
ment in Germany]."'-' His friend and fellow "Sundayer" Karoly (Karl)
Mannheim may have been the exception here — notwithstanding the
controversy surrounding his professorship at the University of Frank-
furt which after strenous efforts at accommodation he was able to
assume in 1930, only to have it revoked three years later.
Anna Seghers, nee Netty Reiling, was bom — like Katia Pringsheim
Mann — into a prominent Jewish family in Wilhelmine Germany. Her
father Isidor Reiling was an art and antiquities dealer in Mainz whose
patrons included the Hessian, Prussian and Russian courts. Her great-
uncle Julius Goldschmidt headed the renowned Frankfurt jewelry and
antiquities firm J. & S. Goldschmidt which had subsidiaries in Berlin,
Paris and New York and was the sole agent for the Rothschilds world-
wide. In marrying a Hungarian Marxist and, seen from the Rhineland,
an "Eastem" Jew, she expressly went against the wishes of her family
in Mainz-Frankfurt where as an only child she would have been
expected to many in kind and one day assume responsibility for the
family legacy. Instead, having already found her metier as a writer dur-
ing her studies in Heidelberg where she joined the circle around Radva-
nyi, Mannheim and other political exiles, she henceforth set herself the
task of acting as the chronicler of the stories she heard and embedding
them within literary narrative.
Seghers's prose, like Kafka's, is steeped in Jewish tradition and his-
tory — in her case especially Old (and New) Testament chronicle and
parable, Midrash, mysticism and messianism, folktales as rendered by
bin Gorion and Buber. Given her tendency to allegorical representa-
tion, both similar to and different from Kafka's, her preoccupation with

13. Letter of 8 July 1924 to Gyula Foldessy; Petofi Irodalmi Muzeutn, Budapest.
86 Seghers and Mann on Young Lukacs

Jewish material is more obvious to the interested and informed reader

than it has been to some of her critics. The intensity of this preoccupa-
tion is evident in her work before 1933 when, having been raised within
a devout family that belonged to the orthodox community in Mainz, she
grappled with her religious heritage vis-a-vis her new-found interest in
revolutionary messianism and communism. As an antiquities dealer Segh-
ers's father specialized in Rembrandt, and in 1924 she eamed her doctor-
ate from the University of Heidelberg with a dissertation entitled "Jews
and Judaism in the Works of Rembrandt." The history and art of seven-
teenth-century Holland — place of refuge for Jews over the centuries —
inspired the topographical settings in many of the works of this woman
writer who took her pen name from one of Rembrandt's most radically
"modem" contemporaries, the painter and engraver Hercules Seghers.
In December 1924 she published her first story in the Frankfurter
Zeitung, "The Dead on the Island Djal — A Tale from the Dutch Retold
by Antje Seghers." Set on the coast of more or less seventeenth-cen-
tury Holland, the story recounts the "tale" of an ecstatic island pastor,
himself "dead," ministering to an unruly flock of dead and buried "sea-
farers who traversed all the waters until they shipwrecked on the rocky
shores of Djal."''* So much for the outlines of the plot. Already the
name of the island — Djal — suggests its Hungarian phonetic equiva-
lent gyal that serves as the root for the words gyaldz [to abuse, revile,
vilify] and gyaldzat [dishonor, ignominy, shame]. On this hermetic level,
then, no doubt meant to amuse the Hungarian readers of the Frank-
furter Zeitung spread far and wide, this is a story about the diasporic
troubles and torments of the "Sundayers" once happily gathered in
Budapest around their "philosopher king" (familiarly "Gyuri," as in Ger-
man: "Djuri"), himself now "dead" to philosophy as he once knew it,
who despite the "ignominy" of their collective fate continues his messi-
anic pursuits in his more or less underground existence in Vienna.
The infiuence of the young Lukacs's ethics and aesthetics is evident
throughout Seghers's early work.'^ She was introduced to his thought in
Heidelberg in the early 1920s, largely by Radvanyi, but also Mannheim
who will have told her about Sunday Circle discussions in Budapest and

14. Seghers, Der lelzte Mann der Hohle: Erzahlungen 1924-1933 (Berlin: Aufbau,
15. For an extended discussion of her relationship to Lukdcs and the Sunday Circle,
see Helen Fehervary, Anna Seghers: The Mythic Dimension (Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P,
Helen Fehervary 87

the revolutionary events of 1918-19 in which most "Sundayers" were

active. As she later wrote on the occasion of his seventieth birthday:
"Georg Lukacs had a great impact on me — long before I met him or
had read anything by him. [...] What first drew me to him was a sort of
legend that had developed around his name. His image arose from the
stories I heard about him from Hungarian emigres who had fled the
White Terror. If I ask myself today what kind of image that was, I know
it showed a man who was brave and clever. These two attributes at
once, and each in high measure, not side by side but both intertwined —
that was the stuff of which the legend was made. [Here was an] intellec-
tual, one who defends our world of ideas with passion, by hazarding his
very existence. [...] In time hearsay turned into friendship and love."
Inspired by the reflections on aesthetics in Soul and Form, the nostal-
gia for the epic in Theory ofthe Novel, the revolutionary messianism of
History and Class Consciousness — and the topography of Jesus's wan-
derings on the shores of the Sea of Galilee (and later those of his apos-
tles) —, Seghers's premier long narrative Uprising of the Fishers of St.
Barbara (1928) relates the story of a failed uprising in a coastal com-
munity that, as she later put it, "swims somewhere between Brittany
and Holland" — "it is, after all, a tale [eine & g e ] . " " In its isolation
from the mundane workings of modem life, the setting of St. Barbara is
curiously akin to that of the "Magic Mountain" in Mann's novel. Yet
whereas the novel is driven by the rarified exchange of ideas, Seghers's
depiction of a community of impoverished fisher folk unfolds in a
series of topographies, the virtual silence of age-old longing, intermit-
tent hope and expectation, and ultimately failed action. Here the line
separating life and death is trod not between health and infirmity or
"above" and "below," but on the soul's path between the confines of
land and the boundlessness ofthe sea.
This path is embodied by the intellectual protagonist of Uprising of
the Fishers, the revolutionary Johann Hull, his patronymic linking him
to the Jewish Apostle, his last name evoking the Hungarian noun hulla
[corpse] or the verb hull suggesting a shedding of tears or leaves, meta-
phorically: a dying. Metaphors of this kind abound in the writings ofthe
exiled members of the Sunday Circle in reference to themselves, each

16. Seghers, "Georg Lukacs," in Uber Kunstwerk und Wirklichkeit, vol. 3, ed. Sigrid
Bock (Berlin: Akademie-Verlag, 1971) 162-63.
17. Seghers to Inge Diersen (n.d.), quoted in Diersen, Seghers-Studies: Interpreta-
tionen von Werken aus den Jahren 1926-1935 (Berlin: Rutten & Loening, 1965) 316, n. 5.
88 Seghers and Mann on Young Lukacs

other, and notably Lukacs.'^ Indeed for some, as in Seghers's depiction,

he evokes the first-century Jewish apostle in the diaspora — soul of a
failed revolution, melancholy captain of a tiny craft navigating cau-
tiously to avoid shipwreck as it sails toward the horizon on rough seas.
Not only in this sense does Seghers's characterization of Johann Hull
render him a counter-figure to Leo Naphta in The Magic Mountain. In
contrast to Mann's habit of endowing his characters with select,
minutely delineated features and gestures, Seghers's work restricts phys-
ical, especially facial, description to a minimum. For her protagonist in
Uprising of the Fishers she eschews physical characterization alto-
gether. As readers we have no idea of what kind of man Hull is physi-
cally or how he appears. Importantly, we never his face, that is to say,
his image. This is not simply because his "essence" may not be cap-
tured physically, but because such description here or elsewhere would
go against the virtual absence of facial characterization in biblical (as
well as other epic) tradition. In this sense Mann's explicitly physical (ste-
reotypical) depiction of a Jewish figure such as Naphta would be not
only a breach of propriety against a particular person or group, but a fia-
grant misrepresentation of what Seghers in her dissertation on Jews and
Judaism in Rembrandt never defines outright but nonetheless affirms as
"the reality of Jewish being" ["die Realitdt des Judischen fVesens"].^^
Her novel Die Gefahrten [The Wayfarers] of 1932 sets the Hungarian
thematic within a larger framework of developments between 1919 and
1931 — from Luxemburg-inspired avantgarde movements to Leninism,
and finally Stalinism. Here Seghers at once laments the demise of the
avantgarde and acknowledges the "reality" of later events — her posi-
tion more or less coinciding with that held at the same time by Lukacs.
And once again in this work he figures in a central way, now not as
"legend," but as one to whom after his move to Berlin in mid-1931 she
became tied in "friendship and love." As one of the novel's five inter-
woven narratives — the others pertaining to events in (and exile from)
Italy, Poland, Bulgaria and China — the Hungarian narrative is both the
longest and most complex. It opens the novel with the depiction of a
pogrom at the time of the Commune's defeat in the summer of 1919,

18. See Karl Mannheim's "Heidelberger Briefe" (1921/1922) and B6la BalSzs's
diary entries of 1919-1922 in Lukacs, Mannheim und der Sonntagskreis, ed. Eva Karddi
and Erzsebet Vezer (Frankfurt/Main: Sendler, 1985) 73-91, 120-28.
19. Netty Reiling (Anna Seghers), Jude und Judentum im Werke Rembrandts
(Leipzig: Reclam, 1981)44.
Helen Fehervary 89

then traces the lives in exile of survivors of the White Terror, among
them four intellectuals based in a by and large historically accurate but
by no means naturalistic way on Lukacs, Karl Mannheim, Bela Balazs
and Laszlo Radvanyi.
The Lukacs figure, the former university professor Bato, is cast as a
vulnerable but quietly persistent man who on his return from Moscow
(to where, in an effort to "control" him, Lukacs was summoned in
1930), takes up his work in Berlin with no hope of having significant
political infiuence or effect. The Radvanyi figure Bohm, whose teacher
and mentor Bato was in Budapest, is contrasted to the elder man in that
despite their common disppointments, he has found new meaning in his
political work — an oblique reference to Radvanyi's enormous success
as director of the Greater-Berlin Marxist Workers School and its affili-
ates elsewhere in Germany.^*' Now married to a German woman, Bohm
feels momentarily nostalgic but soon out of place at a gathering of
exiles where conversation revolves around the specially ordered Mag-
yar cuisine and memories of shared adventures during the heady months
of the Council Republic. The effusive raconteur at this gathering is
Faludi — based largely on Bela Balazs, whose assistant Radvanyi was
at the Division of Drama and Theater in the Council Republic's Com-
missariat of Education —, a man whose personal warmth and cheerful
demeanor belie the precipitous course his life has taken in exile. At first
determined to fan the revolutionary momentum in meanwhile White
Hungary by traveling as an agitator to the Carpathian region of the
short-lived Council Republic of Kassa (Kosice), he subsequently works
in more conventional spheres while trying unsuccessfully to maintain his
standing within the Party. Indeed Bela Balazs's political adventurism and
often erratic behavior incurred not only the Party's rancor but eventually
caused the rift between him and his oldest and closest friend Lukacs.
In the novel's first chapter we read of Faludi's escape from Hungary
inside a stowage crate on a Danube night steamer traveling from
Budapest to Vienna. He shares the crate with the university professor
Dr. Steiner — modelled on Karl Mannheim — who has also been
smuggled on board. Unlike Faludi, who calmly observes their situation
as the final stretch of a journey involving things far more dangerous,
and absurd; Steiner experiences this voyage (into the diaspora) as the

20. See Gabriele Gerhard-Sonnenberg, Marxistische Arbeiterbildung in der Weima-

rerZeit (MASCH) (Cologne: Pahl-Rugenstein, 1976).
90 Seghers and Mann on Young Lukacs

catastrophic reversal of his entire existence and identity.^' While Steiner

anxiously tries to reason his way through the night, Faludi at one point
simply curls up, puts his head on Steiner's knee and drops into a sound
sleep. Here the characterization of Faludi affords us a faint glimmer of
the poet, fabulist and free spirit Balazs was at heart, but had to aban-
don when faced with the need to change the language as well as the
media in which he wrote. The characterization of Steiner as tortured and
ambivalent prefigures later sections of the novel. There he is cast as a
painfully lonely man who despite the promise of a brilliant academic
career feels trapped in a provincial German university town, and misses
every chance to take the next train that might reconnect him with his
former comrades. From these he has distanced himself both politically
and philosophically (the stance of the "free-floating" intellectual Mann-
heim himself advocated and maintained), but for their company and
conversation he nonetheless continues to yearn. Indeed as Mannheim
once admitted to another "Sundayer," he "never and nowhere found
anything that equalled the 'Sundays.'"^^
Surely it was not only the depiction of revolutionaries tortured and
slain in other sections ofthe novel, but also Seghers's portrayal of these
Hungarian intellectuals that inspired Siegfried Kracauer to entitle the
review of the novel he wrote for the Frankfurter Zeitung "a martyr
chronicle of today."'^^ Although Seghers never again created such close-
to-life portraits, Lukacs is allegorized in her later narratives concerning
Stalinist betrayals of intellectuals such as "Die schonsten Sagen vom
Rauber Woynok" ["The Most Splendid Tales of Woynok the Brigand"]
of 1938, "Das Argonautenschiff' ["The Ship of the Argonauts"] of
1949, and "Das Licht auf dem Galgen" ["The Light on the Gallows"] of
1960. The first of these narratives ends with an intertextual reference to
Naphta's death in The Magic Mountain. During his duel with Settem-
brini Naphta famously shoots himself in the head in a moment of hys-
tericapassio; then "he staggered, or tottered, [...] a few steps backward,
flinging out his legs jerkily; executed a right tum with his whole body,
and fell with his face in the snow."^'* In Seghers's narrative, set in a

21. As Mannheim wrote in his first "Heidelberg Letter": "The Hungarian jug has
been smashed and its hundred shards are scattered in a hundred directions." In Lukacs.
Mannheim und der Sonntagskreis 73.
22. Quoted in Lukacs, Mannheim und der Sonntagskreis 10.
23. Siegfried Kracauer, "Eine Martyrer-Chronik von heute," Frankfurter Zeitung
und Handelsblatt 13 Nov. 1932.
24. Mann, The Magic Mountain 705.
Helen Fehervary 91

vaguely Balkan-Carpathian forest scape, Woynok the greatest hunter of

them all seeks his way alone while the robbers in Gruschek's gang
swagger around a blazing campfire. But Woynok who grows cold
retums more than once to the camp, only to be driven away again:
"Why did I even come back here?" he asks himself. "I could have
found my peace long ago. I could be snowed under by now."^^ The
next moming the robbers follow his fresh tracks and find him not far
from the camp: "He had burrowed himself headfirst into the snow."-^^
Their reaction is as disinterested as that of the witnesses to Naphta's
death. While these, having "tum[ed] the body over [...] looked into a
face that one would do well to cover with the silk handkerchief [in]
Naphta's breast pocket,"^^ Gmschek's men, quite indifferent to matters
of taste, ask a more political-pragmatic question: "Should we bury him
in the camp?" "That goes too far," says their leader, and so they "sim-
ply laid Woynok with his head up and covered him with snow. That
was quickly done."
Published in the June 1938 issue of Das Wort, "Woynok the Brig-
and" appeared at the height of the realism debate in which Seghers like
others defended modemism against Lukacs's definitions of realism up
to and including Thomas Mann. Her public exchange of letters with
Lukacs at this time contains one of her rare references to this German
writer whom she so "hated." His mention here diplomatically supports
her argument that while he (Mann) and Romain Rolland, whom Lukacs
"pits against the 'Dos Passoses'" of modemism, are "certainly great
writers, and certainly in the vanguard," one cannot assign them a place
(as Lukacs does) next to the great realists, for "even if Shakespeare,
Homer and Cervantes were to rise from the dead, they still could not
render to the new writers the immediacy of their defining experi-
ence."^^ As we know, Lukacs's letters in response to Seghers's were
unremitting. More disarming, perhaps, as he read them in his Moscow
apartment in 1938 were her "tales" of Woynok the Brigand — and the

25. Seghers, Reise ins Elfte Reich: Erzahlungen 1934-1946 (Berlin: Aufbau, 1994)
26. Seghers, Reise ins Elfte Reich 46.
27. Mann, The Magic Mountain 706.
28. Seghers, Reise ins Elfte Reich 46.
29. Lukacs, "A Correspondence with Anna Seghers (1938/9)," in GL., Essays on
Realism, ed. Rodney Livingstone, trans. David Fembach (London: Lawrence and Wishart,
1980) 175. Translation modified, HF.
92 Seghers and Mann on Young Lukacs

remarkable words with which she prefaced them evoking longings of

the soul of earlier days that, among other things, sought an interactive
understanding of art and life: "And don't you ever have any dreams,
wild ones and tender ones, in a sleep 'twixt one hard day and the next?
and do you know why sometimes an old tale, a little song, even the bar
of a song, easily penetrates the hearts at which we knock our fists
bloody? Yes, the whistle of a bird tugs easily at the bottom of the heart
and so, too, at the roots of all stories and actions."^^

30. Seghers, Reise ins Elfte Reich 26.