Born in Düsseldorf in 1956, he now lives in Göttingen. He studied German and Scandinavian studies and History at the universities of Bonn and Uppsala between 1977 and 1986. MA. 1986-92 Researcher for Modern Literature at the Scandinavian Institute of the University of Göttingen and the Collaborative Research Center of the German Research Foundation (DFG) on Literary Translation. 1992-97 DAAD-Lector for German Language and Literature at the University of Iceland in Reykjavík. Correspondent for diverse Scandinavian magazines. Return to Germany in 1998. During the time 2008-2016 longer stays in The Netherlands, The Hague, and India, Bangalore.
In 2003 Wetzig was awarded the Recognition prize of the Dialog-Werkstatt Zug, Switzerland for the translation of Hallgrímur Helgason's novel 101 Reykjavík from Icelandic.
Thyra Dohrenburg (also Thyra Jakstein-Dohrenburg), born in Berlin in 1898, died in 1972 in Silkeborg, Denmark.
She was a translator who translated numerous literary works from the Scandinavian languages into German. Since 1921 Dohrenburg has translated about 130 works into German, including, for example, fairy tales by Hans Christian Andersen, children's books such as Karlsson vom Dach by Astrid Lindgren, but also novels by Martin Andersen Nexö, Sigrid Undset or Halldór Laxness.
She was married to the famous Hamburg architect Werner Jakstein.
Israel Achatius, born around 1529 in Heilbronn, was a German Lutheran theologian and Reformer. He died in 1581 in Worms. Since 1560, about the time, when he translated Olaus Magnus' »Historia de Gentibus Septentrionalibus«, he was pastor in the Alsatian free town of Weissenburg.
Bertolt Brecht was born on 10 February, 1898, in Augsburg and already began writing while at secondary school. He was able to avoid the military draft and in 1917 began studying medicine in Munich. He experienced the collapse of the German empire and the Revolution of 1918 as a distanced observer; his disillusioned play Drums in the Night became his first theatrical success and brought him the Kleist Prize. His career as a dramaturg, dramatist and director in Munich and from 1923 in Berlin was marked by provocation and scandal. Along with plays he also wrote short prose and stories, and with the publication of Hauspostille in 1927 he also became known as a poet. He achieved international fame with the Threepenny Opera (music by Kurt Weill), which premiered on 31 August 1928 in Berlin’s Theater am Schiffbauerdamm and was subsequently performed internationally in major theatres—including in Scandinavia—and also filmed. In 1929 Brecht married the actress Helene Weigel, with whom he already had two children.
Towards the end of the Weimar republic, Brecht identified himself ever more decisively as a communist, although he never joined the party. His politics find particular expression in the Lehrstücke he produced around 1929-30, which aimed to revolutionise the theatre. Long persecuted by right-wing politicians as an Asphaltliterat and a Kulturbolschewik, Brecht fled Germany in 1933 and settled in Denmark with his family, where he was able to acquire a house near Svendborg on the island of Funen. His six years of Danish exile were characterised by unremitting agitation against the Nazi regime in essays, poems, songs and plays. His application for an entry visa for the USA and his move to Sweden in the spring of 1939 marked the end of this phase of agitation, which was followed by the “classic” historical plays and parables (Life of Galileo, Mother Courage and Her Children, The Good Person of Szechwan). In April 1940, following the German occupation of Denmark and Norway, Brecht fled to Finland and in May 1941 to the USA. However, he found no success in America’s commercialised cultural industry and in 1947 he returned to Europe. In 1949 he founded the Berlin Ensemble with Helene Weigel and spent the following years focusing on theatre work. The triumphant success of his model production of Mother Courage and Her Children in Paris in 1954 re-established him as a European author. His complete works were made available—in some cases after his death—in publications in West and East Germany. Brecht died of heart failure on 14 August, 1956, in East Berlin.
Jahnn, Hans Henny
Hans Henny Jahnn was born in 1894 in Stellingen, one of Hamburg's suburbs, and died in Hamburg in 1959. He was a German novelist, plawright, organ-builder, and even a music publisher, focusing on 17th-century organ music.
Together with his friend and lover Friedel Harms, Jahnn fled to Norway in order to avoid being enlisted to the German army during WWI. In 1919, after returning to Hamburg, Jahnn founded the Utopian community of Ugrino. In 1926, Jahnn married Ellinor Philips, and Harms Ellinor's sister, in 1928. When Harms died in 1931 Jahnn designed his gravestone. Once the Nazi period began, he fled Germany once again to escape the hostility of the Nazis, first to Zurich and then the island of Bornholm (1934-46), where he managed a farm and breeded horses. Returning to Germany after WWII Jahnn became a member of the Freie Akademie der Künste Hamburg. He was especially engaged against racism and past-war militarism.
Jahnn was awarded the Kleist-Preis in 1920 (for his play Pastor Ephraim Magnus), Literaturpreis des Landes Niedersachsen in 1954, and the Lessing-Preis der Freien und Hansestadt Hamburg in 1956.
Most famous Jahnn became for his literary scandals in Expressionist theatre during the 1920's and his boundless novels, like Perrudja (1929) and a trilogy of novels called River without Banks (Fluss ohne Ufer, 1949-50, Epilogue posthoumus ed. 1961).
Alken Bruns, born in 1942, studied Scandinavian philology in Kiel and became an archivarian in his hometown Lübeck, where he died on 13th March, 2021.
He is the author of two volumes of Lübecker Lebensläufe and Neue Lübecker Lebensläufe, of the translation critical thesis Übersetzung als Rezeption. Deutsche Übersetzer skandinavischer Literatur von 1860 bis 1900 (Neumünster 1977) and the translator of Knut Hamsun, Johan Borgen and Kjartan Fløgstad from Norwegian, August Strindberg and Carl-Henning Wijmark from Swedish.
His method of translating took a stand against a colonialistic, germanizing attitude, thus quoting Wilhelm von Humboldt: „Wenn man in ekler Scheu vor dem Fremden noch weiter geht und auch das Fremde selbst vermeiden will, so wie man wohl sonst sagen hörte, daß der Übersetzer schreiben müsse, wie der Originalverfasser in der Sprache des Übersetzers geschrieben haben würde, so zerstört man alles Übersetzen, und allen Nutzen desselben für Sprache und Nation.“ Further he wrote about his method: „Vom Übersetzer wird erwartet, daß er sich unsichtbar macht, und es gilt als Lob, wenn gesagt wird, einer Übersetzung sei nicht anzumerken, daß sie eine Übersetzung ist. Das bedeutet doch: Sie soll nichts Fremdes, Fernes, Unbegreifliches haben, keine dem Original nachgebildeten sprachlichen Neuerungen, keine Normverletzungen und Grenzüberschreitungen, alles schön deutsch und gut zu lesen. Die Spuren der Übersetzerarbeit sollen getilgt sein, und der Übersetzer wird gelobt, wenn er nicht in Erscheinung tritt. Ein zweisprachiger Automat, durch den das Original hindurchgeht. um sich gleichsam selbsttätig ins Deutsche zu verwandeln.“ (1987)
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