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Writing History, Writing Biography: Capturing H.G. Adler’s Many Worlds

Tue, October 22nd, 2019
4:15 pm
- 5:30 pm

H.G. Adler (1910 – 1988) lived at the center of his times and on their margin. A survivor of Theresienstadt, Auschwitz, and two other concentration camps, he chronicled his experience and the loss of others in two dozen books of seminal history, modernist fiction, formally intricate poems, and insightful essays. Yet, despite close friendship with Leo Baeck, Elias Canetti, and Heinrich Böll, he remained  a writer’s writer, largely unknown and neglected. Thus, unlike with better known figures, the story of his life must be told through the times in which he lived, as well as how the same lived through him. On the publication of H.G. Adler: A Life in Many Worlds, biographer and translator Peter Filkins discusses the intersection of biography and history in shaping the story of Adler’s life and work with questions and discussion to follow.

Peter Filkins is the Richard B. Fisher Professor of Literature at Bard College. His biography, H.G. Adler: A Life in Many Worlds was published by Oxford University Press in March 2019. He has translated three of Adler’s novels — Panorama, The Journey, and The Wall — as well as the complete poems of Ingeborg Bachmann, Darkness Spoken. He has been awarded prizes and fellowships from The American Academy in Berlin, Österreichische Gesellschaft für Literatur, Österreichisches Bundesministerium für Bildung und Kunst, and the Deutsches Literaturarchiv – Marbach.

Sponsored by the Program in Jewish Studies, the Bronfman Fund, and the Wiener Lecture Fund.

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