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Faculty Publication: Professor Emeritus of German Azade Seyhan

October 23, 2023

Perpetual Exile: Legacies of a Disrupted Century

Author: Azade Seyhan

Source: Humanities 2023, 12(5), 93;

Type of Publication: Article

Abstract: The transnational configuration of contemporary German literature cannot be detached from its historical continuum, since such a separation would render the archive of histories of exile in and out of Germany inconsistent and incomplete. Bringing literary histories of exile in a dialogue, in this instance, Exilliteratur, represented by prominent German authors, who, during the Second World War, immigrated to Southern California (Thomas Mann, Heinrich Mann, Bertolt Brecht, Lion Feuchtwanger, and Franz Werfel, among others), as well as Anna Seghers and Stefan Zweig, who went into exile in Mexico and Brazil, respectively, and the emerging literature of contemporary transnational or so-called hyphenated German (“Bindestrich-Deutsche”) writers would enable an inclusive paradigm that communicates across communities of research. To that end, I briefly review one novel each by Anna Seghers and Lion Feuchtwanger and essays by the Iranian-German poet SAID, which exemplify the two distinctive genres of exile literature: the long-established Exilliteratur and what I elsewhere described as transnational literature of writers mostly from the non-Western world, who in the latter part of the twentieth century began immigrating to the West. While I acknowledge the different circumstances and historical imperatives that have dictated the features of the two genres, I foreground the ethical implications and the cautionary tales the respective works of Exilliteratur authors and transnational writers share.

German and German Studies