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Reading Group around TRANSIT by Anna Seghers

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School of Arts, Birkbeck College

43 Gordon Square

London

WC1H 0PD

United Kingdom

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A reading group around Anna Seghers novel TRANSIT in preparation for a screening of ESCAPE ROUTE TO MARSEILLE at Essay Film Festival

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Following last year’s presentation of Film Emigration from Nazi Germany (1975) by Günter Peter Straschek, the Essay Film Festival and the Goethe-Institut will now screen the restoration of Escape Route to Marseille (1977), directed by Ingemo Engström and Gerhard Theuring, which is based on the exile novel Transit by Anna Seghers.

Leading up to the screening, we are organising a study group to read and discuss Anna Seghers’s Transit. The novel, considered to be one of the greatest examples of “exile literature” ever written, was completed in 1942, but only published in 1951. It is an existential, political and literary thriller that explores with extraordinary compassion and insight the agonies of boredom, the vitality of storytelling, and the plight of refugees. The novel has inspired a number of film adaptations, including a recent version directed by Christian Petzold in 2018. The reading group will explore some of the themes raised by Seghers’s book and the cultural and historical context in which it was written.

The group will meet three times, on Wednesday 12 February, Wednesday 11 March, and finally on Saturday 4 April, before the screening of Escape Route to Marseille at the Goethe-Institut that afternoon.

We will be referring to Margot Bettauer Dembo’s English translation of Transit, published by the New York Review of Book Classics in 2013 and widely available to buy online and in bookshops: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/221291/transit-by-anna-seghers-introduction-by-peter-conrad-afterword-by-heinrich-boll-translation-by-margot-bettauer-dembo/

If you wish to join the reading group, please register your interest here, so that we can keep in touch with you about the content of the sessions, for example if we are focusing on a specific chapter or thematic aspect of the book. Bookings for the screening on Saturday 4 April will be available via the Essay Film Festival website and on the Goethe-Institut website in due course.

If you have any questions, please send a message marked “Transit reading group” to the following address: bimi@bbk.ac.uk

Dates and venues of TRANSIT READING GROUP and screening of ESCAPE ROUTE TO MARSEILLE:

Reading Group, session one, led by Joanne Leal: 6:30-8:30, Wednesday 12 February, Keynes Library, Birkbeck, 43 Gordon Square, WC1H 0PD

Reading Group, session two, led by Erica Carter: Wednesday 11 March 6:30-8:30, Room 106, Birkbeck, 43 Gordon Square, WC1H 0PD

Reading Group, session three, led by Laura Mulvey: Saturday 4 April, 12:00-13:30 (with screening starting at 14:30), Goethe-Institut, 50 Princes Gate, Exhibition Rd, Knightsbridge, London SW7 2PH

Film Screening: Saturday 4 April, 14:30-19:30, Goethe-Institut

On behalf of Maren Hobein, Goethe-Institut London, and the Essay Film Festival: Matthew Barrington (Manager), Kieron Corless, Nicolas Freeman (CHASE intern), Katie Grant, Ricardo Matos Cabo, Janet McCabe, Raquel Morais, Laura Mulvey, and Michael Temple (Director).

With the support of CHASE Doctoral Training Partnership

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Location

School of Arts, Birkbeck College

43 Gordon Square

London

WC1H 0PD

United Kingdom

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