Else Lasker-Schüler > Literary Fate

Literary Fate

Else Lasker-Schüler published her first poems in 1899 after the birth of her son, Paul. In 1902, she published her first book of poetry, "Styx". During her early years as a writer, Lasker-Schüler also produced prose. In 1906, she published her first work of prose, "Das Peter Hille-Buch" (The Peter Hille Book), in honor of a close friend who passed away. A year later, she published "The Nights of Tino of Baghdad" and immediately afterwards, the play "Die Wupper". In 1911, she published another book of poetry, "Meine Wunder" (My Miracles). The book brought the poet, who was then 42 years old, fame and she was considered one of the most prominent artists of the German Expressionist movement.
Nevertheless, even then it was difficult to classify Else Lasker-Schüler as a typical representative of the Expressionist movement. Alongside the many love poems that she wrote and published in a startling amount of journals and books, Lasker-Schüler also wrote religious poetry, some of which were adopted as prayers. From there it was a short path to writing on Biblical and "Oriental" subjects. Her writing freely jumps between subjects and various forms, and she doesn't feel obligated to follow structural rules. Lasker-Schüler was an especially creative pioneer in terms of her use of language and her German reveals an artist who exceled in creating linguistic compounds and innovations.
 
Just like the poet felt free in the structural dimensions of her poetry, she also allowed herself the self-introspection of her personal-religious identity. The Jewish facet of her personality became stronger over the years, especially after her visits to Eretz Yisrael in 1934 and 1937. Her third visit to Israel, in 1939, became a temporary-permanent situation. She stayed there until her death in 1945. The direct, personal and intense encounter with Jerusalem and Israel/Palestine with its myriad of communities and nations and the encounter with the real East, attracted the German-Jewish artist. Her first two trips made a deep impression on her, but they were not enough to wipe away the romantic outlook regarding the land and its people that was common among the European-German Orientalists of those days. In 1937, she published "Land of the Hebrews" a spiritual-mystical journey in the imagined land of her fathers, which contains not a little bit of idealization of the real land. She encountered the country itself during the last six years of her life, as a resident of Jerusalem.
 
It seems that Else Lasker-Schüler's literary "arrival" to Eretz Yisrael and Hebrew culture, has not yet ended. During her lifetime her poems were translated into Hebrew by Uri Zvi Greenberg translations with a clear Biblical tenor and objective. However, Greenberg did not breach the wall and Else Lasker-Schüler is not well-known among Hebrew speakers. Over the years, writers such as Yehuda Amichai, Leah Goldberg, Nathan Zach and Asher Reich have translated her works. At the beginning of the 90s the writer Dani Dothan dedicated a historical novel, "On A Triangle Reflected Between Here and the Moon" which imagines her years in Jerusalem, to her.
 
It seems that Else Lasker-Schüler's literature has been sentenced, at least at this point in time, to wander between cultures. Despite the growing popularity of her work in Germany, her encroachment into the Hebrew-speaking world is hesitant and partial. There is something to be said for admitting the bitter truth regarding historical reality: The world of the Jewish-German poet was destroyed and has disappeared into the mists of history.  A central figure in the Germany of the First World War and the Weimar Republic, she was cut off from her personal, cultural and linguistic homeland. The East that she dreamed of was, indeed, only a dream dreamt by 19th century Europe, the German Expressionist movement and the Art-Deco movement. Her creative imagination bridged these gaps and united the distant fragments of culture and identity. After her death, and in time, her books have become available, some in translation and some in the original German.
 אירוע השקת היצירה "סְפָר" מאת עפרי כנעני בהשראת ארכיון אלזה לסקר שילר
אירוע השקת היצירה "סְפָר" מאת עפרי כנעני בהשראת ארכיון אלזה לסקר שילר
האירוע התקיים ביום שלישי, כ"ה בחשון תשע"ד, 29 באוקטובר 2013, בשעה 20:00 בספרייה הלאומית.
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