After attaining a Bachelors and Masters degree in Comparative Literatures at Freie Universität Berlin and Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, two years as an academic associate for the English Studies department at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, and three years as a PhD student in the graduate college Gegenwart/Literatur at Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn, Dr. Dana Steglich published her dissertation on the concept of escapism and the works of Lord Dunsany in 2022. She currently works as a scientific researcher at Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz/Germersheim in the DFG- and AHRC-funded research project Spaces of Translation. European Magazine Culture 1945-1965 (https://spacesoftranslation.org/).
Favourite Author. George Orwell in Der Monat
The magazine Der Monat (1948-1971), first published in the American zone of occupation, ranks among the longest running and most impactful post-war magazines published in Germany. As a product of American-German cooperation, the goals of Der Monat were in line with the general aim of the allied forces to denazify and re-orient the German people as well as educate them about other cultures, but the magazine also became an important intellectual weapon in the newly forming battlegrounds of the Cold War. In this context specifically, George Orwell became a “favourite author”, as another highly favoured contributor, Arthur Koestler, once called him on behalf of the magazine and its readership, in early issues of Der Monat.
The magazine published both a full translation of Orwell’s Animal Farm (published in three parts in issues 5–7, February – April 1949) and Nineteen Eighty-Four (published in five parts in issues 14–18, November 1949 – March 1950). In the case of Nineteen Eighty-Four, Der Monat not only co-sponsored the first German translation, the editors also promised translator Kurt Wagenseil to cover his costs entirely should the publishing house which intended to print the novel after its premiere in Der Monat fail to pay their debts to him. Surrounding both publications were articles about Orwell and his works. Additionally, Orwell himself was part of the recurring correspondences-segment in the magazine which featured intellectuals from all over the world reporting on the places they lived in or travelled to. And finally, after Orwell’s death, less than two years after the founding of Der Monat the magazine’s next issue (issue 18, 1950) opened with an editorial that featured a collection of commemorative essays by Arthur Koestler, Francois Bondy, Julian Symons and V.S. Pritchett.
My presentation will focus on the relationship between George Orwell and Der Monat, in terms of personal connections but also considering the role Orwell’s works played for both the political aims of the magazine as well as the establishment of Der Monat as a source of great literature in the German-speaking world.