Uwe Johnson

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Rudolf Noelte, Uwe Johnson, Erich Schellow Bundesarchiv B 145 Bild-P057015, Berlin, Verleihung des Berliner Kunstpreises.jpg
Rudolf Noelte, Uwe Johnson, Erich Schellow

Uwe Johnson (German: [ˈuːvə ˈjoːnzɔn] ; 20 July 1934 – 22 February 1984) was a German writer, editor, and scholar.

Editing Process of selecting and preparing media to convey information

Editing is the process of selecting and preparing writing, photography, visual, audible, and film media used to convey information. The editing process can involve correction, condensation, organization, and many other modifications performed with an intention of producing a correct, consistent, accurate and complete work.



Johnson was born in Kammin in Pomerania (now Kamień Pomorski, Poland). His father was a Swedish-descent peasant from Mecklenburg and his mother was from Pommern. At the end of World War II in 1945, he fled with his family to Anklam (West Pomerania); his father died in a Soviet internment camp (Fünfeichen). The family eventually settled in Güstrow, where he attended John-Brinckman-Oberschule 1948–1952. He went on to study German philology, first in Rostock (1952–54), then in Leipzig (1954–56). His Diplomarbeit (final thesis) was on Ernst Barlach. Due to his lack of political support for the Communist regime of East Germany, he was suspended from the University on 17 June 1953 but was later reinstated.

Province of Pomerania (1815–1945) a province of Prussia, 1815–1945

The Province of Pomerania was a province of Prussia from 1815 to 1945. Pomerania was established as a province of the Kingdom of Prussia in 1815, an expansion of the older Brandenburg-Prussia province of Pomerania, and then became part of the German Empire in 1871. From 1918, Pomerania was a province of the Free State of Prussia until it was dissolved in 1945 following World War II, and its territory divided between Poland and Allied-occupied Germany.

Kamień Pomorski Place in West Pomeranian Voivodeship, Poland

Kamień Pomorski is a town in the West Pomeranian Voivodeship of north-western Poland, on the Baltic coast. It is the seat of an urban-rural gmina in Kamień County which lies approximately 63 km to the north of the regional capital Szczecin. It is the second seat of the Archdiocese of Szczecin-Kamień and a deanery of Kamień.

Poland Republic in Central Europe

Poland, officially the Republic of Poland, is a country located in Central Europe. It is divided into 16 administrative subdivisions, covering an area of 312,696 square kilometres (120,733 sq mi), and has a largely temperate seasonal climate. With a population of approximately 38.5 million people, Poland is the sixth most populous member state of the European Union. Poland's capital and largest metropolis is Warsaw. Other major cities include Kraków, Łódź, Wrocław, Poznań, Gdańsk, and Szczecin.

Beginning in 1953, Johnson worked on the novel Ingrid Babendererde, rejected by various publishing houses and unpublished during his lifetime.

In 1956, Johnson's mother left for West Berlin. As a result, he was not allowed to work a normal job in the East. Unemployed for political reasons, he translated Herman Melville's Israel Potter: His Fifty Years of Exile (the translation was published in 1961) and began to write the novel Mutmassungen über Jakob, published in 1959 by Suhrkamp in Frankfurt am Main. Johnson himself moved to West Berlin at this time. He promptly became associated with Gruppe 47, which Hans Magnus Enzensberger once described as "the Central Café of a literature without a capital." [1]

West Berlin Political enclave that existed between 1949 and 1990

West Berlin was a political enclave which comprised the western part of Berlin during the years of the Cold War. There was no specific date on which the sectors of Berlin occupied by the Western Allies became "West Berlin", but 1949 is widely accepted as the year in which the name was adopted. West Berlin aligned itself politically with the Federal Republic of Germany and was directly or indirectly represented in its federal institutions.

Herman Melville 19th-century American novelist, short story writer, essayist, and poet

Herman Melville was an American novelist, short story writer, and poet of the American Renaissance period. Among his best-known works are Typee (1846), a romantic account of his experiences of Polynesian life, and his masterpiece Moby-Dick (1851).

Hans Magnus Enzensberger German author, poet, translator and editor

Hans Magnus Enzensberger is a German author, poet, translator and editor. He has also written under the pseudonym Andreas Thalmayr.

During the early 1960s, Johnson continued to write and publish fiction, and also supported himself as a translator, mainly from English-language works, and as an editor. He travelled to America in 1961; the following year he was married, had a daughter, received a scholarship to Villa Massimo, Rome, and won the Prix International.

English language West Germanic language

English is a West Germanic language that was first spoken in early medieval England and eventually became a global lingua franca. It is named after the Angles, one of the Germanic tribes that migrated to the area of Great Britain that later took their name, as England. Both names derive from Anglia, a peninsula in the Baltic Sea. The language is closely related to Frisian and Low Saxon, and its vocabulary has been significantly influenced by other Germanic languages, particularly Norse, and to a greater extent by Latin and French.

Villa Massimo award

Villa Massimo, short for Deutsche Akademie Rom Villa Massimo, is a German cultural institution in Rome, established in 1910 and located in the Villa Massimo.

The Prix Formentor is an international literary award given between 1961 and 1967. After a long break it was re-established in 2011. In the 1960s, the Formentor Group offered two prizes, the Prix Formentor and the Prix International ; the former was given to previously unpublished works and the Prix International was given to works already in distribution. The prize takes its name from the town of Formentor on the Spanish island of Mallorca that was famous for its literary gatherings.

1964 - for the Berliner Tagesspiegel, Reviews of GDR television programmes boycotted by the West German press (published under the title "Der 5. Kanal", "The Fifth Channel", 1987).

In 1965, Johnson travelled again to America. He then edited Bertolt Brecht's Me-ti. Buch der Wendungen. Fragmente 1933-1956 (Me-ti: the Book of Changes. Fragments, 1933-1956). From 1966 through 1968 he worked in New York City as a textbook editor at Harcourt, Brace & World and lived with his family in an apartment at 243 Riverside Drive (Manhattan). During this time (in 1967) he began work on his magnum opus, the Jahrestage and edited Das neue Fenster (The new window), a textbook of German-language readings for English-speaking students learning German.

Bertolt Brecht German poet, playwright, theatre director

Eugen Berthold Friedrich Brecht (1898–1956), known professionally as Bertolt Brecht, was a German theatre practitioner, playwright, and poet. Coming of age during the Weimar Republic, he had his first successes as a playwright in Munich and moved to Berlin in 1924, where he wrote The Threepenny Opera with Kurt Weill and began a lifelong collaboration with the composer Hanns Eisler. Immersed in Marxist thought during this period, he wrote didactic Lehrstücke and became a leading theoretician of epic theatre and the so-called V-effect. During the Nazi period he lived in exile, first in Scandinavia, and during World War II in the United States. Returning to East Berlin after the war, he established the theatre company Berliner Ensemble with his wife and long-time collaborator, actress Helene Weigel.

Riverside Drive (Manhattan) Avenue in Manhattan, New York

Riverside Drive is a scenic north-south thoroughfare in the Manhattan borough of New York City. The boulevard runs on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, generally parallel to the Hudson River from 72nd Street to near the George Washington Bridge at 181st Street. North of 96th Street, Riverside Drive is a wide divided boulevard. At several locations, a serpentine local street diverges from the main road, providing access to the residential buildings. Some of the city's most coveted addresses are located along its route.

Anniversaries: From a Year in the Life of Gesine Cresspahl is a tetralogy of novels by Uwe Johnson begun in 1970, with further volumes published in 1971, 1973, and finally in 1983. The main character, Gesine Cresspahl, is a German single mother in Manhattan, and we follow her life from childhood in 1930s rural Eastern Germany at the time of the rise of Nazism, through World War II, the Soviet occupation zone, establishment of the GDR, and beginning of the Cold War, followed by her exile to New York. Eventually, she decides to return to Europe, and leaves for Prague, unaware that Soviet tanks have occupied the city and put down the Prague Spring. The novel has 366 short sections, one for each day of the year, from August 1967 to August 1968, though it bears very little resemblance to a series of diary entries. The narrative moves between past and present, and often shifts rapidly from first- to third-person. Most sections incorporate news reports, as Gesine reads them in the New York Times each day on the subway.

On 1 January 1967 protesters from Johnson's own West Berlin apartment building founded Kommune 1. He first learned about it by reading it in the newspaper. Returning to West Berlin in 1969, he became a member of the West German PEN Center and of the Akademie der Künste (Academy of the Arts). In 1970, he published the first volume of his Jahrestage (Anniversaries). Two more volumes were to follow in the next three years, but the fourth volume would not appear until 1983.

Kommune 1 or K1 was the first politically motivated commune in Germany. It was created on 12 January 1967, in West Berlin and finally dissolved in November 1969. Kommune 1 developed from the extraparliamentary opposition of the German student movement of the 1960s. It was intended as a counter-model against the small middle-class family, as a reaction against a society that the commune thought was very conservative.

Meanwhile, in 1972 Johnson became Vice President of the Academy of the Arts and was the editor of Max Frisch's Tagebuch 1966-1971. In 1974, he moved to a large 4 storey Victorian terrace house overlooking the sea, 26 Marine Parade Sheerness on the English Isle of Sheppey; shortly after, he broke off work on Jahrestage due partly to health problems and partly to writer's block.

This was not a completely unproductive period. Johnson published some shorter works and continued to do some work as an editor. In 1977, he was admitted to the Darmstädter Akademie für Sprache und Dichtung (Darmstadt Academy for Speech and Writing); two years later he informally withdrew. In 1979 he gave a series of lectures on poetics at the University of Frankfurt (published posthumously as Begleitumstände. Frankfurter Vorlesungen).

In 1983, the fourth volume of Jahrestage was published, but Johnson broke off a reading tour for health reasons. He died on 22 February 1984 in Sheerness in England. His body was not found until 13 March that year. At the time of his death, he had been planning a one-year stay in New York City.


On 27 February 1962 Johnson married Elisabeth Schmidt, who he later (1975) accused of conducting a love affair with the Czech Mozart scholar Tomislav Volek.[ citation needed ]



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