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Literati is excited to host a discussion of German author Siegfried Kracauer's novel Georg. We will be joined by the translator Carl Skoggard, publisher Patrick KIley, and Chair of the Department of German Languages and Literature at the University of Michigan, Johannes von Moltke.
Best remembered today for his brilliant study of early German cinema, From Caligari to Hitler: A Psychological Study of the German Film, and for his involvement with the Frankfurt School (he mentored Theodor Adorno), Siegfried Kracauer (1889-1966) was the editor for cultural affairs at Germany's leading liberal newspaper, the Frankfurter Zeitung, during the Weimar Republic until its disastrous end.
His novel Georg is a panorama of those years, as seen through the eyes of a rookie reporter working for the fictional Morgenbote (Morning Herald). In a defeated nation seething with extremism right and left, young Georg is looking for something to believe in. For him, the past has become unusable; for nearly everyone he meets, paradise seems just around the corner. But which paradise? Kracauer's grimly funny novel takes on a confused and dangerous time which may remind us of our own.
Carl Skoggard was trained as a musicologist and for many years served as an editor for the music bibliography Repértoire International de la Littérature Musicale (RILM), New York, where he was responsible for German materials. His translation of Ein Jahr in Arkadien, an 1805 gay fiction by Duke August of Saxe-Gotha and Altenburg, appeared in 1999 as Year in Arcadia. More recently he was also the staff writer for Nest: A Quarterly of Interiors, an award-winning magazine created by his partner Joseph Holtzman. Over the last decade Skoggard has prepared translations with extensive commentary for the three major autobiographically-oriented writings of the German-Jewish philosopher and cultural theorist Walter Benjamin. These include Berliner Kindheit um 1900 (Berlin Childhood circa 1900), Berliner Chronik (The ‘Berlin Chronicle’ Notices), and a bilingual edition of Benjamin’s Sonnets, which has made this little-known but important body of poetry available to readers of English for the first time. Skoggard’s latest project, is a translation of Siegfried Kracauer’s Weimar novel Georg. This is a brilliantly cinematic, darkly comic evocation of that troubled era. Skoggard lives in Valatie, New York, with Holtzman and assorted animals.
Patrick Kiley is a UofM Grad (English, '02) and has served as a research curator and writer for books and exhibitions at Yale's Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library and the New York Public Library. In 2014 he opened Publication Studio Hudson, one of several in a network of on-demand book publishers in the Americas and Europe. PS Hudson focuses especially on prose, poetry, artist books and translation. PS Hudson and Patrick have since moved slightly north to Troy, New York.
Johannes von Moltke is the Chair of the German Department at U-M and the author, most recently, of The Curious Humanist: Siegfried Kracauer in America.