108 Seiten, Note: 1,3
Information on Referencing of Archives
1.1 Preliminary Remarks
2. Cultural Appropriation and Canon-formation
2.1 Polysystem Theory
3. The Role of Literature in the GDR and in International Context
3.1 The Tradition of English Language Editions in Germany
3.2 Literature in the GDR
3.3 Translation in the GDR
3.4 Foreign Policies of Culture – The East-West-Antagonism and the English-speaking World
3.5 Development Aid – The Two Germanies and the Third World
4. Seven Seas Publishers
4.2 The Agenda
4.3 Organisational Structures
4.4 Marketing and Sales – Target Groups
4.5 Ideology and Economy – The End of SSP
5. The Programme
5.1 English Originals
5.1.1 The “Other America” – Canon-formation and Appropriation
220.127.116.11. A Critical Realist - Editing and Appropriation of Walt Whitman
18.104.22.168.1. The Anthology
22.214.171.124.2. Song of Myself
126.96.36.199. Acceptable Naturalists – Editing and Appropriation of Norris, Garland, and Crane
188.8.131.52.1. Editing in Norris’ The Octopus
184.108.40.206. Sum-up United States
5.1.2 Great Britain – Imperialist with Common Past
5.1.3 Ireland and South Africa - Activism by Proxy
5.1.4 Australia – Anthologising Australian Socialists and Realists
220.127.116.11. Topics and Authors
18.104.22.168. Compilation From Down Under
22.214.171.124. Sum-up Australia
5.2 Translations of GDR and Pre-war German Literature into English – Interlingual Translation as Rewriting
5.2.1 Compiling German Literature
5.2.2 Surrounding Texts
5.2.3 Translating Christa Wolf’s Divided Heaven
8. Appendix I
Complete Bibliography Seven Seas Publishers (Tschörtner 1987)
9. Appendix II
Examples of Covers
10. Appendix III
Much of the information on which this paper is based has been drawn from archives both in Germany and England. These archives will be referenced in the following way:
Bundesarchiv, Abteilungen Deutsches Reich und DDR, Stiftung Archiv der Parteien und Massenorganisationen der DDR, Berlin: The general archive classification BArch will be omitted in references as all files used here come from the same classification department DR1 and can thus be easily attributed to this archive by the reader. Information will be referenced as: (DR1/file number).
Akademie der Künste, Berlin: This archive comprises among others a variety of legacies of different artists. The legacies from this archive will therefore be referred to in the following way: (AdK: name of the legacy/file number).
Stefan Heym Archive, Cambridge University Library: This archive is not normally open to the public at the moment. I was however generously allowed to view parts of Stefan Heym’s unpublished biography of his wife Gertrude Gelbin: Gertrude – A Memoir written in 1969. I was only allowed to view those parts relating to Seven Seas Publishers, all information that was of a personal nature or otherwise unsuitable for public viewing was blackened out. Information from this archive will be referred to as: (SHA: Memoir, page number).
Germany has a long tradition of ‘Englische Reihen’ (English editions) of which the undertaking of the enterprising Bernhard Tauchnitz, who published mostly English bestsellers and classics, has probably remained the most impressive and significant one so far. The large-scale reception and transfer of a foreign literature that is undertaken within the bounds of one publisher with such editions is highly interesting for a number of reasons. It can divulge information about the role of literature in general, the reception of a foreign literature and the relationship to its source country – as well as their changing over time.
How these can be linked to cultural-political agendas will be analysed in my following study of the East-German publisher Seven Seas. After the Second World War, Tauchnitz began to decline and publishing relations in Germany entered a new, politically charged, phase. A small publishing project initiated behind the Iron Curtain attempted to pick up the threads left hanging loose by Tauchnitz, although, with regard to the new political conditions, under different prerequisites. Seven Seas Publishers (SSP) was founded by Stefan Heym’s wife Gertrude Gelbin who returned with him from American exile in 1958 and it operated until the early 1980s. So far it has not been the subject of any detailed studies. SSP published authors from English-speaking countries in the original English, alongside English translations of, mainly East German, authors’ work, both primarily to be exported. The German texts were chosen and translated by SSP and marketed in different English-speaking countries together with the original English texts, which constitutes an interesting and significant reversal of the usual publishing relations concerning translated literature.
The angle from which I will be looking at SSP will be that of Lefevere’s rewriting theory. He not only considers the interconnection of ideology to editing, anthologising and choice of texts for publication but also to interlingual translation and the resulting representation of literatures. Using Lefevere’s system of analysis as descriptive frame, I will try to find out in which way politically and ideologically determined rewriting processes influenced SSP’s programme. A quote from Lefevere’s (1992:1) Translation, Rewriting and the Manipulation of Literary Fame presents the frame of my study in a nutshell:
All rewritings, whatever their intention, reflect a certain ideology and a poetics and as such manipulate literature to function in a given society in a given way. Rewriting is manipulation, undertaken in the service of power, and in its positive aspect can help in the evolution of a literature and a society.
My guiding question will therefore be: Which are the norms, ideologies, and poetics that guide the rewriting of German and English literatures within the bounds of SSP, seen in relation to GDR cultural politics and the interconnections to the source and target countries.
The outline of my study is as follows: I will start out with an overview of Lefevere’s rewriting theory in connection with polysystem theories by Even-Zohar and Toury that will provide a framework for my analysis of SSP. I will then shortly summarise the role of literature and translation in the GDR. The largest middle part will be devoted to the main country segments chosen by SSP, the USA, GB, Ireland, South Africa, and Australia. As rewriting encompasses not only anthologising or editing but also interlingual translation, I will then touch upon the segment of translated German literature in SSP’s programme and focus on the choice of books for translation and their anthologising plus one example of actual translation practice in a short excursus in chapter 5.2.3.
Inevitably, this study is situated at several disciplinary borderlines: That between GDR Studies and Literary Studies, between comparative Literary Studies, Translation Studies and English & American Studies. It is therefore very broadly spread; I do however hope that this does not result in too thin a layer but that in connecting these different areas I might arrive at an insightful analysis of an unusual but nevertheless very typical example of GDR publishing relations. I will try to make a virtue of necessity: An analysis of this publisher and its publications should not only allows for an insight into rewriting processes in general, but also into the GDR’s literary system and its products and the GDR’s reception of the different English-language literatures and their functions within the GDR and the international context. Because of its interdisciplinary nature, my study will hopefully fill in many gaps in different subject areas and add to their understanding. I have chosen a middle-path between case studies and an overview over the whole publisher as I think that it is also interesting as a complete project. This does unfortunately also mean that many aspects of equal interest will have to be neglected here, like travel-writing or a historiographical view on the “alternative histories” published. Similarly, I will also combine text-analyses with analyses of the overall programme, the actual authors and texts chosen for publication and their surrounding texts.
It can of course not be the aim of my work to offer any judgements on the actual impact of Seven Seas abroad. Often, ideologically tainted presentations of literature were simply “read through” and were far from forcing a prefixed interpretation on the reader. This would have been especially so in the case of reception outside the GDR’s own literary system which is mostly the case with SSP. What is of main interest here is the self-image of SSP, the agenda behind the project; in how far and in which way the images that were presented to the foreign public through the “filter” Seven Seas were characterised by ideology and politics and by the role and function that was assigned to literature – the rewritings of different literatures within the microcosm of Seven Seas operating within the macrocosm of international publishing.
Research for this project was confronted with a number of difficulties, the main one being the unavailability of much of the archive material concerning SSP after 1965 and most of the ‘Druckgenehmigungen’ (the approvals for printing that had to be given to all publications in the GDR by the Ministerium für Kultur (Ministry for Culture, MfK)) for its publications. Most of this material has either been lost or not yet filed at the Bundesarchiv (information given by staff at the archive). Also, this material which comprises correspondences between the MfK and the publishing house, ‘ökonomische Einschätzungen’ (economic evaluations) and ‘Jahres-themenpläne’ (yearly lists of books planned for publication) can only provide the official side as it was presented to and by the MfK. All internal files of SSP (that could contain information on editing and decision-making processes for or against certain titles) have been lost. They seem to have been removed from the Volk&Welt archive in the Berlin Akademie der Künste in 1991. Interviews with the few living people that were directly involved in SSP were planned, and would have been invaluable to approach the topic from different angles, but could not be realised (apart from some information given by people not directly involved in SSP) due to a general, but not unusual, unwillingness to be confronted with the GDR past. To complement the picture, I have therefore tried to relate the publication practices at SSP to those in general practice in the GDR. I also hope that I have succeeded in allowing the publications and the texts surrounding them to speak for themselves.
Literature and politics were heavily intertwined in the GDR, as they were in most East Block countries. Literature was not only seen as transmitting a certain ideology, but the dealing with literature was often an ideology in itself. That the Zentralkommitee (the central committee of the GDR’s state party, ZK) or the Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands (state party of the GDR that was guaranteed the constitutional right to decide on the guidelines for the society’s development, SED) often dealt with literary policies and decided on general literary guidelines at its party congresses (where these were traditionally presented to the public) shows, how closely literature and politics were associated. The central role literature was awarded also manifested itself in the dealing with translated literature, for example in the policies designed to enhance the translation of Soviet literature (Lokatis 1997:22) or the attempts at control over literature from capitalist states that entered the GDR via publishing houses like Volk&Welt. These systemic pre-requisites led to numerous different strategies of canon-formation (of the GDR’s own and foreign literatures) and appropriation, many of which can also be traced in the microcosm SSP.
Several descriptive translation theorists like Hermans (1985) or Lefevere (1992) have considered the influence of ideology on the translation process, and Lefevere has assembled different forces participating in the shaping of a literary canon, under the term “rewriting”. I will be using the term “translation” in a broader sense here, following Jakobson’s definition (2000:114), to signify not only “interlingual” but also “intralingual” transfer - here the rewriting of different English-language literatures and texts. Against this background, SSP constitutes one small piece of the larger picture of rewritings of GDR literature and of the rewriting of English literatures by the GDR and its ideological and/or poetological aims.
Lefevere’s rewriting concept will be described in more detail in chapter 2.2 but can best be understood on the basis of polysystem theory introduced to Translation and Literary Studies by Itamar Even-Zohar and Gideon Toury.
With his Papers in Historical Poetics of 1978 Even-Zohar was one of those scholars who adapted existing system theories of the 1920s. He himself puts his findings in line with Lotman‘s literary and semiotic theories and that of Bourdieu (Even-Zohar 1990:4-6). Even-Zohar introduced the term “polysystem” to describe the multitude of sub-systems (e.g. children’s literature, mainstream literature, canonised literature and others) comprising the literary system that is in itself described as interconnected with other surrounding systems. The aim of his and other researchers’ work at Tel Aviv University was the analysis of the interaction of the different literary systems. One main finding concerning interlingually translated literature for example was that it may occupy different positions within a polysystem depending on the state of the target culture’s literary polysystem. This position can either be primary, meaning that it creates and introduces new models for literature, or secondary in that it spreads and introduces already existing ones. If the literature of a target culture (into which the texts are translated) is still young, in crisis or otherwise “weak”, translated literature according to Even-Zohar takes a primary position, whereas it usually takes a secondary one in literary polysystems that already have their own strong national literary tradition (Even-Zohar 2000:193-194). The crucial difference in polysystem theory in comparison to earlier translation approaches is what Gentzler (2001:108) calls a “reversal of the direction of thought”. Whereas earlier theories tended to look at texts in terms of equivalence and saw the translated text as introducing new literary models into a society, polysystem theory claims that the norms of the target system govern the aesthetic guidelines, the norms followed and the choices made by the translator. These “translation norms” were then differentiated by Gideon Toury (2000:202-204) into “preliminary” (governing the choice of certain texts), “initial” (determining whether the translators choose to orient their approach towards the norms prevalent in the source or target culture) and “operational” norms, those governing the actual choices in the translation process. Sources for the study of these norms (apart from the literary texts themselves) can be bibliographies of translations that allow conclusions to be drawn from the specific preference for texts or their exclusion or paratexts, surrounding texts like prefaces or footnotes, and metatexts that exist independently of the primary text but are descriptive of it, e.g. reviews, statements by publishers, editors or professional groups such as translators’ associations and programmatic statements (Hermans 1999:85). Another central aim was the detection of „universal laws“ governing the translation process. This last aspect will not be central for me here, but I will rather use these concepts as frames for my analysis of SSP.
It is the preliminary norms that I will mainly concentrate on in my analysis, the actual choice and presentation of texts for the programme of SSP. But also the directedness of the initial norms that influence the programme and its presentation and the operational norms in a small number of case studies (SSP’s translation of Christa Wolf’s Der geteilte Himmel (1963), the edition of Norris’ The Octopus (1958) and the Whitman anthology (Čapek 1958)) will be considered. A central metatext is the outline of the agenda of SSP by Getrude Gelbin (chapter 4.2). Although my study deals only in part with actual translation practice meaning interlingual transfer, I nevertheless see not only Even-Zohar’s polysystem theory but also Toury’s translation norms as useful tools to work with the English-originals part of SSP’s programme. Although there is no language transfer, intralingually the titles are nevertheless translated in that they are filtered through the polysystem of the GDR before being sent abroad. I will look at SSP, this system within a system, operating and being positioned within and between the polysystems introduced by Even-Zohar and Toury, but will modify their ideas to some extent. As already mentioned, the project SSP was in fact heavily characterised by its attempt to circumvent the usual workings between polysystems as described by Even-Zohar et al.. It attempts to redirect the transmission of its translated literature, its position in relation to other polysystems and to impose SSP’s i.e. the GDR’s own norms on other literary systems, while in fact the literary polysystem of the GDR was the one that was “young” and in a phase of reconstruction. This means that Toury’s programmatic statement: “Translations are facts of one system only: the target system.” (Toury 1980:35) will definitely be questioned here. It also means that the analysis of the norms governing literary production can mainly tell us more about the norms governing the GDR’s system and to some extent also the existing assumptions about the target systems plus their inter-relationship - but only very little about the target systems themselves.
The Manipulation School and in particular André Lefevere (1992) have elaborated the ideas introduced by polysystem theory by adding other intervening factors and focusing on the aspects of power, ideology, certain institutions or economic factors on the literary transposition process. Lefevere sees translation as a “shaping force” (1992:2) that does not just hold the secondary function of bringing something across, of transferring it, but is itself an active, intervening player. Interlingual translation is of course only the most readily visible form of rewriting, but other activities like editing, anthologising, the actual choice made for or against the publication of a title, and its presentation are also among those “rewriters” employ to shape literary discourses (1992:4). These rewriters, be they editors, critics or actual translators, have a decisive role in forming the literary canon:
In the past, as in the present, rewriters created images of a writer, a work, a period, a genre, sometimes even a whole literature. These images existed side by side with the realities they competed with, but the images always tended to reach more people than the corresponding realities did. (Lefevere 1992:5)
It is poetological as well as ideological constraints or motivations that determine rewritings and are reflected in them; and while this process of rewriting is of course most obviously at work in totalitarian societies, Lefevere (1992:5) stresses that it is part of any literary system. He defines two control factors that direct rewritings: Inside the literary system professionals like translators, reviewers, critics or teachers shape the nature of the literary canon and its reception while outside the literary system itself, the factor of patronage comes into effect. The people or institutions associated with patronage are mostly concerned with the ideology, the politics of literature rather than its poetics the dealing with which is mostly delegated to the professionals within the literary system. Patronage that determines both the form and the content of literature then consists of three elements, the ideological and the economic components as well as the element of status (Lefevere 1992:14-16). Lefevere does not restrict the scope of the ideological component to the sphere of politics, but for him it also encompasses prevalent conventions or traditions. The economic component then comes into action, in former times through the appointment to a lucrative office by the king, nowadays through the granting of scholarships, book prizes etc. which serve to support or suppress certain types of literature. Finally, the status that goes with the membership in a certain support group also has a significant influence. Lefevere (1992:17) distinguishes between differentiated and undifferentiated patronage. If all of the three components, the ideological, economic and status component, are under the control of the same patron, patronage has an undifferentiated character, and it is differentiated if this is not the case. Of course this does not mean that even in a system with undifferentiated patronage there cannot exist any literature that is not congruent with the patron’s aims. One example is dissident GDR literature that came into existence (and to fame) precisely because of its challenging nature to the prevalent official patronage. The position of certain types of literature in the system is of course not unchangeable (Lefevere 1992:23); if the officially supported literatures do not relate to the environment or social system around it in the way the patrons see fit, they can also become the motor of change as the shifts in literature politics in the system of the GDR from the early 1960s up to the late 1980s show, for example. The second control factor that determines the nature of the rewriting of a literature according to Lefevere (1992:26), besides ideology, is its poetics. A poetics consists both of certain literary devices, genres, prototypical characters and symbols on the one hand, and a specific prevalent concept of the function, the position of literature in the social system that manifests itself in the selection of certain themes on the other. The latter, “functional” component of a poetics is of course again closely tied together with the ideology prevalent outside and around the literary system.
These concepts, rewriting theory, polysystem theory, and Toury’s norms, form the basis from which I will be looking at the image created in SSP’s rewritings. I will try to find out according to which poetics and ideology and in which institutional framework the original texts and translations by SSP were “manipulated” to function in a given way, by looking at the texts published and at metatexts and paratexts surrounding them. In many regards SSP can be seen as the microcosmic representation of the GDR literary system in general. I will therefore keep going back and forth between the specific in SSP and the general, relating this conglomerate of texts to the political agendas and discourses that possibly influenced the “creation” of their “image”, to the role (inter- and intralingually translated) literature played in the polysystem of the GDR in general.
As unusual as it might seem, the project SSP ties into the context of a long German tradition of foreign language editions. The en-masse publication of English-language literature in Germany began with publishers like Asher’s Collection of English and American authors in Berlin (Korsten 1998:229/Nowell-Smith1966:434). The largest, most successful and internationally best known was Tauchnitz Edition, founded in 1837 by Christian Tauchnitz in Leipzig. His publishing house existed until after the Second World War (attempts to revive it after the war were not successful). It brought out about 6500 reprints by mainly English and American authors in their original language and also some of the long-time standard translations of English works into German (such as Shaw’s Pygmalion by Siegfried Trebitsch). Tauchnitz published almost all great names of English and American literature like Shaw, Wilde, Conrad or Poe plus lesser known ones and in addition initiated a number of successful series like the ‘Collection of British Authors’, the ‘Collection of British and American Authors’, the ‘Student Series’ or the ‘Series for the Young’. Tauchnitz’ inexpensive books spread widely in the whole of Europe and played a major part in the popularisation of English and American literature. After having for a number of years published reprints without formal consent, Tauchnitz eventually had to agree on an import ban for England to be granted continental copyright. Tauchnitz’ success was at its highpoint between the early 1870s to the end of the 1880s until in 1891 the US entered the International Copyright Act and made life on the US market more difficult for Tauchnitz (Korsten 1998:230). Both improvements as well as abridgements of originals can be found in Tauchnitz editions, many authors took advantage of the opportunity to include corrections to the follow-up editions by Tauchnitz and his press in turn often took the liberty to cut down texts where it seemed suitable. Often he approached writers directly to circumvent the publishers abroad and thus managed to publish his reprints before the actual original came on the market.
Gertrude Gelbin herself positions Seven Seas in the tradition of Tauchnitz in an article of 1967 about her endeavour, and in a way SSP can in fact be seen to be picking up the threads left hanging loose after the end of the Second World War. Apart from size, the fundamental difference between Tauchnitz and SSP however consists in what could be called their agendas. The love of English literature can be assumed to have been an incitement to both, but while Tauchnitz had a clearly economical thrust, SSP defined itself mainly via its political agenda.
It is exactly these continuities and discontinuities that should be of interest for the following study of SSP. In which way the discontinuities were determined by the changing cultural-political conditions is one question I will be trying to answer.
To understand the designs of SSP and the idea behind it, it is essential to mention the role literature played in the GDR in general. Although the political agendas governing literature in the GDR kept changing throughout its existence, the role of (officially fostered) literature remained one with a pedagogical function. In line with reconstruction after the war, it was aimed at education, the formation of a new society that was to be a so-called ‘Literaturgesellschaft’. It was to serve as, as the first minister of culture Becher put it: “Das höchstentwickelte Organ eines Volkes zu seiner Selbstverständigung und Bewußtwerdung” (the most highly developed organ of a people to serve its self-knowledge and awareness) (quoted in Emmerich 2000:41). In the founding stages of the GDR, against the background of the dictatorship just past, the formation of a specific literary canon was awarded a central place in the construction of the new society, the formation of the ‘neue sozialistische Mensch’ (new socialist person) through the emphasis on socialist virtues such as collective behaviour, a socialist humanism and work ethics and anti-fascism and the attempt to free the high literary canon from class-bound access (Emmerich 2000:41). These agendas also came to express themselves in the characteristics of socialist realism (SR) that was proclaimed the official state poetics in the Soviet Union in 1932, and was adapted by Georg Lukács as the most influential theorist of SR for the GDR (Emmerich 2000:119-120). It was especially influential during the beginning phase, up to the mid-1950s, but remained an underlying presence throughout the existence of the GDR (Lukács himself eventually fell from grace, but his theories were not discarded) (Emmerich 2000:121). In general, the function of socialist realist literature is a pedagogical one. A positive hero whose actions serve as a model for identification for the ideal socialist society, the depiction of class struggle, socialist development and its successful realisation and the depiction of workers and revolutionary situations are typical features. Other typical themes addressed with criticism are the class enemy, the bourgeoisie, exploitation, racism and individualism (Fast 1999:35). In its poetics, SR was typically defined against other literary movements. The ‘Formalismusstreit’ (formalism debate) of 1951 or the ‘Expressionsismusdebatte’ (expressionism debate) in the journal Das Wort testify to this tendency. Expressionism, formalism or modernism that used new formal concepts like defamiliarisation, alternating points-of-view or montage were the main currents against which the socialist realist concept of the work of art as a closed system, reflecting the whole of “reality” in each of its components, was defined. Equally central were the construction of a partisan (‘parteilich’) standpoint, orientation towards the positive and construction towards closure.
It was this role, the belief that literature had an important impact on the character of minds and societies, that accounts for the heavy involvement of political bodies in literary policies and the eventual attempts at censorship and the subsequent self-censorship following it. The central device for controlling the literary output in the GDR itself was the ‘Druckgenehmigungsverfahren’ (procedure in which all texts had to be approved of for publication through several assessments). These assessments (‘Gutachten’) were written by assessors internal and/or external to the respective publishing house. On their basis, the respective branch of the MfK granted the right for publication or not. Other directive measures by the MfK were the approval of the ‘Jahresthemenpläne’ and a general supervision of the publishing houses (Lokatis 1997:29). Despite the directive measures, many of the developments in literature were of course arbitrary. Milestones that mark certain directions in development (like the VIII. Party Congress in 1971 that led to a more permissive handling of literature) or the prevalence of certain agendas (like the Bitterfeld Conference in 1959) do of course indicate the rough direction literary policies were taking but do not account for the involvement of a large number of institutions, individuals and also mere chance and arbitrary decisions that also characterised the formation of the canon of GDR literature. Lokatis (1997:22) notes that factors like internal relations, the connections to the printing and book trade and of course financial issues were equally influential. This also has to be kept in mind in the case of SSP. In which way the role of literature in general, and the poetics of socialist realism were influential in the programme of SSP will be dealt with in the following chapters.
If literature in general was attributed a central position in the GDR, so was of course (interlingually) translated literature. As it is the case with many other aspects of this work, it is beyond its scope to describe the field of translation in the GDR in more depth, especially as much research in this area has yet to be conducted. The official policies concerning translation in the GDR seem to have been mostly concerned with what got translated and only to some extent how texts were translated. The translation of texts from the Soviet Union was especially supported in the early 1950s; 25% of translated literature was to come from the Soviet Union (notes of meeting with publishers, not dated, DR1/1886). Like all other literatures, those imported from other languages had to go through the same assessment procedure that had been introduced to control the ideological suitability of texts published in the GDR. Where literatures from the capitalist states were concerned, this usually entailed a discursive negotiation between the publishing houses, editors, assessors and the MfK about whether a book was considered suitable for publication or not. The influence of capitalist cultures could not be allowed to have an uncontrolled (potentially decadent) influence on the GDR readership, but at the same time there was a certain pressure on the respective official for the GDR to appear as a tolerant and open country to the world, especially in the changing cultural-political circumstances of the 1970s and 80s (Creutziger 1998:20-21). The other side to the coin was the support of “left-wing” English-language authors in GDR translation which in turn was sometimes the only channel through which West Germans could access these literatures. Apart from the assessment procedure there also existed the plan to found a ‘Zentralstelle für das Übersetzerwesen’ (central administration for translations) in the early 1950s and to introduce central ‘Meldepflicht’ (compulsory registration) for translated texts (notes, foreign department of the MfK, 11/08/1952, DR1/1886). A central concern of this registration process was of course economic, as double-translations were to be avoided, but it would also have provided an additional control mechanism on top of the printing approvals. Apart from this, according to Creutziger (1998:23) who was himself a translator in the GDR, discourse and awareness of translation in the GDR were similarly under-developed as they were in the West Germany of that time. Discourse was mainly concerned with faithfulness, naturalness and the possibility of literal translation the latter of which was mainly rejected. The concern lay more with the quality of translation, especially at the early stages of the GDR when there was still no proper qualification available for aspiring translators and those working with languages only spoken in the capitalist countries could only rarely improve their language abilities by travelling to these countries (protocol translation conference, 22/04/1954, DR1/1886). There appear to have been some attempts to tie the poetics of translation to Marxist-Leninist theory and to promote a form of ‘parteiliches Übersetzen’ (partisan translation) (Creutziger 1998:30-31). In the protocol of the first translation conference in 1954 for example, the commitment of translators to socialist realism is stressed and their obligation to put form into the service of content to reach this ideal. Creutziger (1998:30-31) however states that despite these attempts it was never agreed on what ‘parteiliches Übersetzen’ really signified and how translation could follow Marxist-Leninist theory. All in all, the focus concerning translation in the GDR seems to have been on the choice of the translated texts, the translation canon rather than its poetics, but the former definitely occupied a central position in official awareness of translation practice. This is why I think it to be particularly useful to mainly concentrate on the analysis of the interlingually translated programme compiled by SSP except for a short detour in chapter 5.2.3.
Foreign policies concerning culture and the arts in general and literature in particular were also relevant as a political measure in the GDR in that they had the function “die politische und ideologische Offensive des Sozialismus mit allen kulturellen Mitteln zu unterstützen” (to support the political and ideological offensive of socialism with all cultural means) (Hager quoted in Praxenthaler 2002:35). This was based on Lenin’s dogma of the internationalisation of class struggle and victory of socialism and communism, the paradigm of the “two worlds”. In this, not only were the socialist states partners in the class struggle, but the support of and co-operation with members of the “suppressed classes” and other interest groups in the capitalist world were equally part of the fight against imperialism and capitalism with the means of culture (Praxenthaler 2002:27-30). This was relevant especially in reaction to the Hallstein Doctrine of the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG), that was aimed at isolating the GDR internationally, and the GDR’s struggle to gain international recognition and counteract West Germany’s ‘Alleinvertretungs-anspruch’ (the FRG’s claim to being the sole representative of German culture). Cultural relations were to serve the international recognition of the GDR and to inform about the culture of the young socialist state. During the time of the Hallstein Doctrine, the GDR-friendship-societies that were established in Britain, Ireland, South Africa, India, and Australia to name but a few, even began to function as quasi ‘ersatz’ Foreign Offices with international recognition as their main target (Becker 1991:250-260). In 1951 the ZK of the SED first passed a resolution concerning the publication of foreign-language media to enhance the “Popularisierung der DDR im Ausland” (popularisation of the GDR abroad) (quoted in Praxenthaler 2002:97), one of which was the later establishment of the magazine Democratic German Report (edited by SSP translator John Peet). I will come back to the relationship to the different countries covered literaturewise by SSP in more detail in the respective country-chapters and the chapter on target groups.
Another means by which the GDR could enforce its international recognition and promote socialism was via development aid in third world countries. Although economic relations were highest on the agenda, also cultural and educational development aid were relevant. Especially in Africa and India the two Germanies maintained an ongoing developmental armament competition over the ‘Alleinvertretungsanspruch’ for German culture which was not solely designed to better the lives of the respective third world residents but was equally a stage on which the two opposing systems sought to present their superiority (Schulz 1995). In the cultural sector, the establishment of cultural institutes was the main device, an example of which were the forerunners of the Goethe Institutes established by the FRG in India (Fischer 1984). Seven Seas that also had its markets in India and Ghana therefore ties into this confrontation. I will come back to SSP’s markets in India in more detail in the section on target markets.
It can be said that the GDR was tied into a multitude of different connections to the English-speaking world in which politics and “literary politics” often became intermingled. How this expresses itself in the existing literary relations (of which the programme of SSP is an example) will become clear in the following chapters.
SSP was established with a specific political purpose in its agenda which was presented to the deputy minister of culture Erich Wendt by the chief editor Gertrude Gelbin (07/08/1961, DR1/7813). This outline is the central metatext and basis for my analysis of the rewriting processes within SSP and will be accompanied by other correspondence with the MfK about SSP, paratexts like prefaces and back cover texts, as well as the bibliography of SSP and the contents of its publications. These different textual levels will then hopefully add up to a coherent picture of the main rewriting processes at work within SSP.
The project of a paperback publisher that would publish literature from English-speaking countries in the English original was first tabled in 1953. It was initiated by Gertrude Gelbin, Stefan Heym’s wife, who was searching a publisher for the books that he had written in English during his American exile (Anderson 1999:268). The first “Panther Books”, as they were called initially, came out at the private Paul List Verlag in 1953. Panther Books remained with List up until 1958 when the conflicts of interest between the chief editor Gertrude Gelbin and the publishing house became intolerable. While List gave financial issues priority and concentrated on the publication of American classics for which they did not have to pay royalties (SHA: Memoir, 114), Gelbin had a more cultural-political agenda in mind and did not hesitate to contact Erich Wendt directly to reach her goals. Panther Books was therefore handed on to Volk&Welt and renamed “Seven Seas Publishers”. In the naming of SSP Gelbin seems to have been inspired by the name of a company she worked for in the United States called “Art of the Seven Seas” (AdK: Herzfelde/3105). The first titles by SSP in 1958 came mainly from the areas of English and American classics and by authors like Twain, Austen and Brontë, and English and American writers positioned at the left end of the political spectrum such as Albert Maltz, Steve Nelson and William Morris. Also Heym’s two-volume novel The Crusaders (1958) and a collection of his stories were published. All in all 6 titles by Heym came out with SSP over the years. That first year SSP had 18 new titles in the programme, many of which were obviously the legacy of the original Panther Books. In later years, the average number of publications lay at approximately 5 titles per year. The biggest change to be made to the programme of SSP was the introduction of literature by authors from the GDR in English translation which was suggested to the ‘Abteilung für Literatur und Buchwesen’ of the MfK (department for literature and publication matters, ALB) in December 1958 (DR1/1255). With the introduction of GDR authors to the programme, SSP was moved more towards the political agenda Gertrude Gelbin seems to have intended it to have in the first place. When Gelbin died in the late 1960s, Kay Pankey, an old acquaintance from American exile, became the last chief editor. Seven Seas Publishers existed up until the early 1980s when Pankey died as well; the last Seven Seas books were published in 1980 (information given by Ursula Lutz, 13/07/04).
With her letter to Erich Wendt of August 1961 (DR1/7813), Gertrude Gelbin sent a detailed description of SSP’s purpose, its organisational aspects (personnel, paper, advertising and promotion, planning) as well as its achievements so far and its expected prospects. In this 40-page-long paper in English she tries to establish SSP as what she calls “a propaganda project on an international scale” and applies for it to be treated similar to other projects within the same context, like “the foreign service on the radio” or “publications service of the Committee for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries” and for it to be taken out of the (also financially) restraining context of the publication industry. In her opinion, the supply of paper, personnel and finances was not sufficient for SSP to fulfil its role as a “psychological warfare weapon” (DR1/7813:I-1 to I-3). According to her commentary, these difficulties originated in the organisational structure that tied SSP to Volk&Welt. As SSP was established as a subdivision of Volk&Welt, the latter had to cover the losses of SSP as well as share its already reduced paper allocation. Gelbin lists the purposes of SSP in a foreword to the commentary. By establishing a “reserve publishing position for progressive English-language literature” and “through the publication of the works of currents authors of the GDR” and their sale “throughout the world in all countries, whether NATO, SEATO, or neutral, where English is the first or secondary language” “capitalist propaganda advanced through American and British paperbacks” was to be “counteracted” and the “democratic nature” of the GDR publicised (DR1/7813:I-1). As a convenient by-product she also advertises SSP’s potential sales abroad as a source of foreign currency. Gelbin’s commentary appears once again to echo the same conflict that ended the co-operation with the Paul List Verlag. Whereas Volk&Welt had its own publications to take care of and was already operating with a limited amount of paper and finances, Gelbin saw (or at least presented) her project as one with a cultural-political aim that needed special (financial) attention. She wanted to “sell our books [...] not so much as belletristics but, rather, political books” (DR1/7813:I-1). Of course all of this must be regarded in the light of the interrelationship of financial and ideological aspects in the GDR. As noted by Lokatis (1996:61) financial and ideological issues tended to be heavily intertwined in the publishing industry. Not only was this true regarding the fact that financial profitability was also relevant alongside ideological matters, but those involved could and would also use ideological arguments when justifying a project they thought to be profitable or, vice versa get rid of titles they did not find ideologically acceptable (on whichever end of the scale) on the grounds of financial arguments. This must of course also be kept in mind when reading Gelbin’s commentary as well as the reactions it provoked. That the political function of SSP was important to Gelbin is suggested by the information given by Stefan Heym in the unpublished memoir of his wife: “We stressed the ideological and political value of the project. Gertrude pointed out the dire straits in which men like Howard Fast, Alvah Bessie, etc. found themselves. A writer must be published to be able to function and live – what would accrue to the GDR, and we might succeed in bringing progressive literature precisely where it was banned, the USA. From the very beginning, Gertrude considered her work for Panther Books, as the project was first called, and later for Seven Seas as her political duty” (SHA: Memoir, 112-113).
The agenda presented to the officials is more than clear. Following it, SSP can be analysed as a clear example of affirmative literary politics which makes it a valuable source of information on these. In the parts dealing with the programme of SSP I will try to find out whether the publications do in fact reflect the agenda and in which respect they do so.
To be able to get some idea of the character of the patronage and the influence of rewriters like editors on the programme of SSP, it is necessary to not only consider general practices in the GDR but also whichever information is available on those at work within SSP in particular. The difficulties encountered when researching the relevant files have already been mentioned above, the information given here can therefore unfortunately not be very detailed.
The SSP-texts by East German authors in English translation were mostly texts that had already been through the assessment procedure when being first published in German. This might be one reason why, apart from one assessment on Anna Segher’s (1960) Revolt of the Fishermen of Santa Barbara and two on compilations by SSP, these could not be found in the files with the assessments at the Bundesarchiv. A simple application by the publisher to the MfK might have been sufficient in these cases, as applications for these books must have already existed somewhere else or SSP might even have been in the possession of a ‘Blankogenehmigung’ (generally valid approval for printing). The assessments that could still be found were not assessed by an external editor but only by those belonging to SSP and quickly approved of on the same day. All this suggests that SSP did enjoy a certain amount of trust from the MfK and was not exactly known as a dissident project in its choice of texts. Heym states in his Memoir (112,132) that Erich Wendt was very supportive personally of the project throughout. What is clear concerning the decision- making- process is that since 1961 there existed a ‘Beirat’ (commission) set up by the ALB for the selection of the German titles for translation, consisting of representatives of the ZK of the SED, the ALB, the Deutsche Schriftstellerverband (German Writers’ Association of the GDR), the Deutsche Buch- Export- und- Import- Gesellschaft (East German import and export association for books), and the publishing house Volk&Welt (letter Czollek, 17/12/1958, DR1/1255). So far, judging from the materials available, it is not clear to which extent control was exercised here, which aspects were for the translators to decide and which for the editors, Gertrude Gelbin or the MfK. It is however an indicator for the fact that the MfK was indeed aware of the important political role translated German literature could play abroad. In her outline to Erich Wendt, Gertrude Gelbin does mention one example of a decision making process on SSP’s programme of 1961 (DR1/7813:iv-1). There seem to have been difficulties in the co-operation with the ALB in choosing the German titles for publication. Her descriptions suggest that at this point the normal procedure was for SSP to suggest certain titles to the ALB according to a yearly plan that defined certain focus points which would in turn be accepted, altered or turned down by the ALB while aspects like the availability of rights, paper allocations and the like also played a significant role.
In 1961 the staff at SSP consisted of one chief editor, one editor/copywriter, two editors, one editor for proof-reading and one secretary; however not all of them were fluent in English. This posed a number of difficulties to the organisational process and made it necessary for some of the staff to take on work across the defined borders of each job, the main workload seems to have lain with Gelbin. Her job as chief editor is defined by Gelbin, among others, as setting up the political theme for each year, the selection of “books that support this political theme”, the “rewriting and revising of manuscripts, or of books already written, as needed before publication.” Gelbin defines her own job like this: “The Chief Editor not only handles the jobs specified in her contract, she also re-writes such manuscripts for books as require reworking, or such books as require the same, whether these are written in English or are translations from the German” (DR1/7813:I-4). Most of the covers of Seven Seas books were created by Lothar Reher who also designed the publications of SSP’s mother house Volk&Welt. The translators working for SSP were mostly native speakers of English, Britons or Americans that had married into the GDR, e.g. the author Edith Anderson-Schroeder or Jack Mitchell but also others such as the well-known English left-wing journalist John Peet, editor of the Democratic German Report and a major influence on the formation of the picture of the GDR in Britain , who came to the GDR as a convinced communist. Other translators, e.g. Joan Becker, also worked for the Democratic German Report (information given by Victor Grossman, 04/06/04) which was characteristic of the closely-knit Anglo-German scene of the GDR consisting of both people that had come to the GDR for personal reasons and others that were actively supportive of the ideals of a socialist society.
The influences of patronage on the programme of SSP, of an ideological as well as economic nature, are outlined here. Whether it really was her main aim or not, Gertrude Gelbin justified the existence of her project in terms of the ideological discourse of the time. The arguments she presented to Wendt, by whom she hoped to be supported in her work, adhere to the prevalent discourse on the function of literature as a political tool (she even makes it a “weapon” echoing the ‘Kunst als Waffe’ discourse). Patronage by the MfK and other official institutions like the printing association was in this case undifferentiated. It was up to the MfK to take influence on the programme through the committee established for the choice of German titles and to grant printing approvals. But mostly Gelbin’s SSP was tied to the function she has given it herself (to the political role she had attributed to SSP) by the economic aspect of the MfK’s patronage. SSP was not a project that was designed to become an economic success within the restrained socialist economic system (it failed to be one when still with the private Paul List Verlag), and it was only through the backing by the MfK, it seems, that Volk&Welt reluctantly held on to the subdivision.
The markets that were mainly targeted by SSP through adverts and the ones for which sales connections were organised best also account for the political nature of the project. In 1961 the main countries for the export of Seven Seas books were Britain, India, Australia, Ghana and the US (export analysis, 1961, DR1/7214). Of 31,583 copies sold in the capitalist states 11,793 went to England, 10,365 to India, 3,902 to Australia, 1,330 to Ghana and 1,011 to the US. Exports to the socialist countries were somewhat smaller with 22,699 copies in 1961. All in all, SSP exported books to 30 capitalist countries and 9 socialist countries in 1961. Of the Seven Seas books sold, 54,282 copies were exported.
In 1961 the best-selling title of a German author in England was Heym’s (1958) two volume Crusaders (763 copies) (although he had written this in English originally and then a second time in German, so it can not be called an interlingual translation) It was followed by Anna Seghers’ (1960) The Revolt of the Fishermen of Santa Barbara (504), Weiskopf’s (1961) The Firing Squad (501) and Joan Becker’s (1960) compilation Old Land New People and Uhse’s (1961) Lieutenant Bertram (500 each). Apitz, the compilation A Pair of Mittens (Becker 1961), Weiskopf, Uhse, Petersen and Seghers also sold well in Australia. In the US, the only title selling three figures was Apitz’ international best-seller Naked Among Wolves (1960). It remains the only translation and edition in English to date.
Originally English titles were especially successful in India and GB. While India seems to have had an interest in classics like Thackeray and Brontë and contemporary authors like Saxton, Aptheker, Ring Lardner or Bessie alike, in GB sales were mostly high on authors out of the range of the official British literary canon like Aptheker, Bessie, Maltz and Saxton. An exception in many ways is SSP’s publication of Twain’s King Leopold’s Soliloquy (1961) with the exceptional number of 1000 copies sold and 762 copies of the Twain compilation. There was also a strong interest in Australian literature in GB. Australia in turn bought three-figure-numbers of some of its own contemporary authors (Herbert and Hewett) while ignoring others (Cusack, Kaufmann, Vickers). The plan to export “banned” authors to the US seems to have not (at least in 1961) taken ground. The only title that was sold in three figures was Aptheker’s And Why Not Every Man? (1961), a title on “negro slavery”; the “progressive” US authors like Bessie, Cope, Lardner or Maltz only sold single copies in the US. The overall most successful English titles in the “capitalist states” were in 1961: Twain’s King Leopold (3411), Stewart’s A Seven Seas Sampler. A Collection of Short Stories by Nineteenth Century British Authors (2000), the Twain compilation Your Personal Mark Twain (1601), Aptheker’s And Why Not Every Man? (1594), Hewett’s Bobbin Up (1552), Herbert’s Seven Emus (1125) and Bessie’s Bread and a Stone (1057).
For India, the cheap price of the Seven Seas books of 2.85 Marks seems to have been attractive regardless of the actual titles. Sales in India were not very high on particular titles but very evenly spread; out of 48 titles available 43 were ordered here. Exceptions are leading titles like that of Seghers that sold well in almost all countries taken into account here. The aspect of price was not as relevant in GB, the US or Australia where titles were ordered according to the specific interests of the reading public. For Britain, there is generally a large number of titles that sold around 500 copies which suggests that there must have been well-organised connections to Britain that ensured standing orders for interesting titles of this even number of copies. Similarly, an even number of 300 books was usually exported to Australia. In the US in comparison, the picture is a very different one. Sales here are for smaller, odd numbers of 1, 7, or 31, suggesting that these copies were possibly ordered individually and/or on request.
The impression given by the export analysis is supported by Gelbin’s commentary of 1961 on the “expansion of markets” in her outline on SSP. After British government regulation that had prevented imports up to the early 1960s had been changed, Seven Seas Books were regularly distributed by the left-wing Collet’s Holdings in Britain and there were also plans to form a book club “within the trade union movement of Scotland and England” (DR1/7813:v-1). Exports to the US had long been prevented by their classification as communist literature and their subsequent “stamping” (meaning that these books were marked with “warnings” like “produced in communist dominated Germany” or “produced in Soviet occupied territory”) (SHA: Memoir, 131). But in March 1961 president Kennedy had abandoned this practice, and SSP therefore planned a campaign especially geared towards university bookshops in the US (DR1/7813:III-4). In India, Seven Seas Books were distributed by the People’s Publishing House (PPH), a publisher with its own bookshops that specialised in communist literature and also published works by Indian Marxists and authors from the Soviet Union (information given by Prof. Dr. Jürgen Lütt, 27/07/04). The GDR’s embassy in India is cited as commenting on SSP’s position there in a very positive way (in a statement from 28/04/1962, DR1/7813):
Die Bücher werden im People’s Publishing House verkauft und finden immer mehr Verbreitung, soweit wir das hier beurteilen können. Wir sind der Meinung, daß ihre Produktion sehr gut ist und uns bei unserer politischen und kulturpolitischen Arbeit gute Dienste leisten kann.
The books are sold at the People’s Publishing House and, as far as we can judge, are gaining in circulation. In our opinion, this production is very good and can serve us well in our political and cultural work.
That India and Britain were the two main markets for Seven Seas books and the ones that were mainly targeted in marketing and advertising is not surprising. Both were countries that, although not countries of the Eastern Block, had distinct left-wing groups within that sympathised with socialist or communist concepts. India and the GDR shared cultural as well as economic and political aims. There was substantial trade between the two countries and the GDR supported India in the struggle concerning Bangladesh and the border conflict with China. Parties like the Communist Party of India had close links to the Soviet Union and supported the socialist concept of the GDR (Heidrich 1998:256). Also institutions such as the GDR-India friendship society were established to enhance cultural and political co-operation, and for long periods of time strong relations existed between the two countries on terms of a shared anti-fascist and anti-imperialist orientation (Heidrich 1998:17-18). In the context of SSP, the struggle with the FRG for the right to represent German culture in India and provision of cultural development aid is also relevant as both had their own separate cultural institutions there (Heidrich 1998:18). In this respect, SSP also served to present East German culture in India in competition to the West German picture. According to Heidrich (1998:21), the translations of East German authors into English by SSP were even the basis for a large number of translations into different Indian languages!
The official political relationship of the GDR and Britain was also one characterised by the three-way relationship between Britain, the GDR and the Federal Republic. In the 1960s Britain became one of the main trading partners of the GDR, but its official politics were still determined by Britain’s relationship to the FRG and oscillated between the fear of a united Germany and anti-communist tendencies (Bauerkämper 2002:9-11). Apart from the official political sphere where the Communist Party of Great Britain never played a major role, there were groups of journalists, artists, trade unionists, pacifists, church representatives and members of the left wing of the Labour Party that saw the GDR as the better Germany that was anti-fascist and in favour of securing world peace. Many of these contacts had been enhanced by exiled KPD emigrants to Britain and in return a number of pro-GDR organisations like the parliamentary British Committee for the Recognition of the GDR, of which the journalist and SSP-translator John Peet was a member, tried to support the GDR in the struggle to gain international recognition (Bauerkämper 2002:8-10).
By distributing its books in India and Britain via left-wing publishing houses and distributors like Collet’s and the PPH, and by targeting trade unions and other distinctly left-wing groups, SSP used the political and cultural multiplier-function these groups held, to appeal to the politically sympathetic sub-groups within India and Britain. While the export of “banned” authors to the US did, at least in 1961, not go as smoothly as planned, SSP did succeed in distributing not only classics of English and American literature but also “progressive” ones (both from the GDR and English-speaking countries). Again, also in marketing relations, politics and literature can be found to be closely interrelated and characterised by the East-West-Antagonism.
Although the GDR was set up as a counter-concept to market economy, alongside the existing structures characteristic of a totalitarian society it still underwent development to a modern industrial state (Lokatis 1997:1). This meant that not only could ideological arguments serve economic aims and vice versa, as mentioned before, but in the case of SSP also that it stayed tied to the ideological function it had been given through the undifferentiated patronage of the MfK because economic and organisational guidelines and restrictions prevented it from making any profit. To Gelbin this seems to have been especially pressing as she was competing on an international market with her Seven Seas books. One aspect that made SSP an unprofitable project seems to have been the restricted paper allocation available to SSP (information taken from DR1/7813:II). Editions were restricted to 5,000 copies which led to increased costs when titles that were in larger demand had to be re-printed in second editions if they could be reprinted at all. Many titles sold out immediately. Collet’s complained for example that when they received the catalogue of SSP books the titles they were interested in had already sold out (07/06/1961, DR1/7813). The interconnection of ideology and economics is also documented in an exchange of letters dating from October 1961, following Gelbin’s presentation of SSP to Wendt, between the ALB and the head of Volk&Welt Czollek who had passed her commentary on to the former. The ALB (30/10/1961, DR1/708) is slightly more doubtful about the ideological impact of SSP abroad:
Die Aufgabe, der kapitalistischen Propaganda mit dieser Reihe entscheidend entgegenzuwirken, scheint eine zu große Aufgabe. (...) In Bezug auf Personal wird doch praktische gesagt, daß man Seven Seas Books aus dem Verlagswesen herausnehmen soll, damit man märchenhaft bezahlen kann.
The task to counteract capitalist propaganda with this series appears to be one that is too large. (...) What is really being said in relation to personnel is that Seven Seas Books should be taken out of the context of the publishing industry so that dream-salaries can be paid.
And in the economic analysis of 1962 Czollek (28/02/1962, DR1/7813) states:
Das ökonomische Bild der Seven Seas Books ist ungünstig. (...) Wenn man bedenkt, daß im Jahre 1961 von ca. 45 lieferbaren Titeln 24.500 Exemplare nach England, Indien und Australien gingen und nur 12.500 Exemplare in 35 andere, nichtsozialistische Staaten, scheint uns der Wirkungsgrad der SSB sehr klein zu sein und der materielle Aufwand nicht gerechtfertigt.
The economic state of Seven Seas Books is unfavourable. (...) If one considers that in 1961 of 45 available titles 24.500 copies were sold to England, India and Australia and only 12.500 copies in 35 other, non-socialist states, the impact of SSB appears to be very limited and the economic expenses not justified.
Gertrude Gelbin seems to have struggled with Volk&Welt throughout her time as chief editor, as Stefan Heym also mentions in his biography Nachruf (1988) and in the Memoir (113-134). It seems to have been mainly thanks to Erich Wendt’s support that SSP could be called to life at all. In the reactions to her commentary and already in the course of the ‘Profilierung der belletristischen Verlage’ (profiling of fiction publishers) in 1961, plans crop up of handing SSP on to Edition Leipzig/Fremdsprachenverlag Leipzig (letter Thormann to Wendt, 10/04/1961, DR1/7813). Although this was never put into practice SSP struggled economically throughout its existence, and the chief editor of Volk&Welt tried more than once to get rid of the subdivision and to pass it on to another publisher. Another aspect that made life difficult for SSP were the trade-relations to the Soviet Union regarding literature. The Soviet Union had originally been counted on as one of the main markets for SSP, according to Heym. But the export and import business was organised in a way that one state would only import as many books as the other one did in return, and more influential publishers of German titles already had their claims staked. Added to that, the Soviet publisher of English literature in the original, the Foreign Language Publishing House, had no interest in importing a competitor (SHA: Memoir, 130-131). SSP survived until the early 1980s. One can of course only speculate about the reasons for its closure, but the facts that Gertrude Gelbin who had regarded SSP as her personal project was not involved any longer, the death of Kay Pankey and the changing political circumstances that did not call for a project with an ideological thrust like that of SSP any longer, were certainly relevant. This shows that the relationship between translation, rewriting and ideology was not always clear-cut, and that for example economic aspects, personal interests and simple bureaucracy also played a major role alongside the official state patronage by the MfK.
Besides the organisational and surrounding political structures, the central area of analysis for determining the interrelationship of politics/ideology and rewriting is of course the programme that was actually published, the texts and paratexts.
Initially, still as Panther Books, SSP started out as a publisher for English-language titles by foreign authors that were perceived to be “progressive” (meaning socialist), but in 1958 first plans were made to add GDR authors in English translation to the programme (letter Dr. Seidel to Czollek, 06/12/1958, DR1/1255). In her outline to Wendt, Gelbin justified the project as follows: “Among other things, this translated-into-English series should serve to heighten the reputation for cultural achievement and artistic prestige of the GDR. The series should prove that German culture, which died under the Nazis, knows a renaissance under Socialism.” (DR1/7813:iv-3). Of course it cannot be the point of discussion here, whether Gelbin only instrumentalised certain discourse elements to reach her goals or whether she believed this to be true. Either way, the fact that she used these arguments to appeal for support for her project shows that these ideas existed in the mind of the officials, that this kind of argument was part of a relevant discourse. Echoed here is also the then always present political antagonism of East and West that has also been found to be represented in the markets targeted by SSP. This antagonism heavily characterised discourse and actual politics of GDR literature throughout. Especially in the beginning stages of the GDR, it was the officially supported socialist realism set against “modernist” tendencies that governed them. By choosing or rejecting certain titles or authors for translation and through anthologising, SSP (and its patrons) had the potential to influence the canon-formation of GDR literature as such in English-speaking countries to some extent. Outside the German faculties of universities there were, and probably still are, very few German speakers that would attempt to read the original texts and SSP could to some extent determine which segment of GDR literature was read abroad.
A similar outline lies behind the publication of English originals that were designed to create a quasi “anti-canon” to a large extent. This is especially true for the early publications of US-authors banned from publication in their home country but also for the later anthologies of literature from the US, Australia, South Africa, GB and Ireland and the general predominance of left-wing and (socialist) realist authors in the programme of SSP. By selecting these authors for publication, anthologising and then re-exporting them also to their countries of origin, SSP acted as their “patron” and sought to take an influence on the formation of the literary canon of these countries by bypassing their preliminary and initial norms. As a by-product it also presented itself (and therewith the GDR) in the role of advocate to suppressed writers and otherwise oppressed groups in different societies. SSP’s programme stayed limited to 154 titles altogether and a multitude of different people and interest groups took influence on the character of the programme. Also, no files that could have revealed more of the decision-making process involved in the choice of books were accessible. Therefore it can of course not be the aim to discover who had which degree of influence on it. Instead, my aim will be to look at the representation of certain discourses and political agendas in the publications and their surrounding texts to identify their influence on the rewritings within SSP. As SSP is clearly positioned by Gelbin as a project affirmative of official literary politics, it can then, in turn, be seen as a representative example of these within the GDR.
I will be looking at the English-originals segment of SSP’s programme structured according to the “countries of origin” of these texts. This way I can not only trace processes of rewriting relating to GDR literary politics in general, but also find out in which way these related to the different literatures and their reception. Although this aspect of SSP’s programme is not concerned with translated literature in the sense of a transferral of a text from one language to another, it constitutes a form of rewriting and translation as well as I have mentioned before. An analysis of the choices of books from different countries, the compilations, their editing and presentation should therefore not only provide interesting information about rewriting processes and their political implications at work. It is also a highly interesting source of information on the literary-political relationship to the source countries, the norms governing the relationship and the role their literatures were to play within the system of the GDR.
Also beyond the support of banned Hollywood Ten authors, the programme of originally English-language titles is defined by SSP’s general political agenda. This becomes clearly visible in its variations in the different country segments. Countries of choice for SSP were mainly the USA, then Great Britain/Ireland and Australia, followed (quantity-wise) by South Africa and India (the latter with only a small number of short stories in a compilation). In addition, a number of English-language titles of mostly non-fiction concerned with international, often typically Cold War, topics were compiled by editors from varying countries. Among these were travel-books (Burchett, 1959, Mekong Upstream. A Visit to Laos and Cambodia; Freehill, 1959, Where Do You Want to Go? China! What Do you Want to Know? All About It!), titles on literary theory (e.g. Caudwell, 1973, Illusion and Reality. A Study of the Sources of Poetry) or political topics (Jagan, 1972, The West on Trial. The Fight for Guyana’s Freedom; Pomeroy, 1965, The Forest. A Personal History of the Huk Guerilla Struggle in the Philippines/ 1971, Trail of Blame. Stories of the Philippines; Pritt, 1969, Unrepentant Aggressors. An Examination of West German Policies; Stern, 1969, Ricefield – Battlefield. A Visit to North Vietnam).
 This and all following translations are my own where not indicated otherwise.
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