The seventh cross

Anna Seghers, 1900-1983

Book - 2018

A revelatory World War II novel about a German prisoner of war fleeing for the border and encountering a variety of Germans, good and bad and indifferent, along his way. Now available in a new English translation. The Seventh Cross is one of the most powerful, popular, and influential novels of the twentieth century, a hair raising thriller that helped to alert the world to the grim realities of Nazi Germany and that is no less exciting today than when it was first published in 1942. Seven polit...ical prisoners escape from a Nazi prison camp; in response, the camp commandant has seven trees harshly pruned to resemble seven crosses: they will serve as posts to torture each recaptured prisoner, and capture, of course, is certain. Meanwhile, the escapees split up and flee across Germany, looking for such help and shelter as they can find along the way, determined to reach the border. Anna Seghers's novel is not only a supremely suspenseful story of flight and pursuit but also a detailed portrait of a nation in the grip and thrall of totalitarianism. Margot Bettauer Dembo's expert new translation makes the complete text of this great political novel available in English for the first time.

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Series
New York Review Books classics
Subjects
Published
New York : New York Review Books 2018.
Language
English
German
Physical Description
pages cm
ISBN
9781681372129
1681372126
Main Author
Anna Seghers, 1900-1983 (-)
Other Authors
Margot Bettauer Dembo (translator)
Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Originally published in 1942 and available now in its first unabridged English translation, this trenchant tale about life in Nazi Germany is notable for being one of the earliest works of fiction to acknowledge the existence of concentration camps. In the early years of World War II, seven prisoners escape from the Westhofen concentration camp into the nearby town, where several of their spouses and families live, including the ex-lover and child of one prisoner, George Heisler. Seghers provides a panoramic view of the town and its citizens, many of whom are indifferent or oblivious to the turmoil of the distant war, but her main point-of-view character is George, who struggles desperately to elude recapture and frets that "the community that supports and surrounds every person—his blood relatives, lovers, teachers, bosses, and friends—had been turned into a network of living traps." The novel's title refers to a torture reserved for concentration camp escapees that bears out Heisler's fears about "how profoundly and how terribly outside forces can reach into a human being." Seghers skillfully expresses the inner lives of her characters and their stories are consistently suspenseful. For all the grimness of its events, the novel ends with an affirmation of the human spirit that "in that innermost core there was something that was unassailable and inviolable." (May) Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

A revelatory World War II novel about a German prisoner of war fleeing for the border and encountering a variety of Germans, good and bad and indifferent, along his way. Now available in a new English translation.

The Seventh Cross is one of the most powerful, popular, and influential novels of the twentieth century, a hair raising thriller that helped to alert the world to the grim realities of Nazi Germany and that is no less exciting today than when it was first published in 1942. Seven political prisoners escape from a Nazi prison camp; in response, the camp commandant has seven trees harshly pruned to resemble seven crosses: they will serve as posts to torture each recaptured prisoner, and capture, of course, is certain. Meanwhile, the escapees split up and flee across Germany, looking for such help and shelter as they can find along the way, determined to reach the border. Anna Seghers’s novel is not only a supremely suspenseful story of flight and pursuit but also a detailed portrait of a nation in the grip and thrall of totalitarianism.

Margot Bettauer Dembo’s expert new translation makes the complete text of this great political novel available in English for the first time.