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GILGI

Irmgard Keun

  • Original Title: GILGI
  • Publication date: January 1931
  • Publisher: ULLSTEIN BUCHVERLAGE GMBH
  • Country: DE
  • Drama

Information

  • Epoch: Historical
  • Time Period: 20th century
  • Location setting: Germany
  • Themes: FAMILY, Maternity, Emancipation, PEOPLE facing life, Life choice, Facing failure, SOCIETY DYSFUNCTIONS, Discriminations, SOCIAL CHRONICLES, Social relations, Commitment, Intolerance, CHARACTERS, Strong Female Character

Pitch

The stirring, never-before-translated story of a single, pregnant, and wickedly nervy young secretary making her way through a Germany succumbing to the Nazis.

Comments

In the catalogue of Shoot the Book! 2019 at the Cannes Festival

Translation rights sold: Italy, Japan, Spain, USA, UK.

A modern classic which has been praised by the New York Times, so that it is alike to arise interests again. (Hereafter the link to the article: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/02/books/review/irmgard-keun-gilgi.html)

Irmgard Keun’s first novel GILGI was an overnight sensation upon its initial publication in Germany, selling thousands of copies, inspiring numerous imitators, and making Keun a household name—a reputation that was only heightened when, a few years later, the nervy Keun sued the Gestapo for blocking her royalties.

Irmgard Keun was born in Berlin in 1905. After leaving school and trying her luck as an actress, she began to write in 1929 and found instant success with her early novels which were blacklisted by the Nazis for their ‘immoral’ depictions of the Modern Young Woman.

Summary

The story of a young woman trying to establish her independence in a society being overtaken by fascism, Gilgi was not only a brave story, but revolutionary in its depiction of women’s issues, at the same time that it was, simply, an absorbing and stirring tale of a dauntless spirit. Gilgi is a secretary in a hosiery firm, but she doesn’t intend to stay there for long: she’s disciplined and ambitious, taking language classes, saving up money to go abroad, and carefully avoiding both the pawing of her boss and any other prolonged romantic entanglements. But then she falls in love with Martin, a charming drifter, and leaves her job for domestic bliss - which turns out not to be all that blissful - and Gilgi finds herself pregnant and facing a number of moral dilemmas.

Revolutionary at the time for its treatment of sexual harassment, abortion, single motherhood, and the "New Woman," Gilgi remains a perceptive and beautifully constructed novel about one woman’s path to maturity.

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  • Author’s biography

    Irmgard Keun was born in Berlin in 1905. After leaving school and trying her luck as an actress, she began to write in 1929 and found instant success with her early novels, GILGI, one of us (1931) and THE ARTIFICIAL SILK GIRL (1932), which were blacklisted by the Nazis for their ‘immoral’ depictions of the Modern Young Woman. From 1936 to 1938 she travelled through Europe with the writer Joseph Roth and published several novels.