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Synopsis: In 1931, a young woman writer, living in Germany, penned her answer to Anita Loos's Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and the era of cinematic glamour. The resulting novel, The Artificial Silk Girl, became an acclaimed bestseller and a masterwork of German literature, in the same tradition as Christopher Isherwood's Berlin Stories and Bertoldt Brecht's Three Penny Opera. Like Isherwood and Brecht, Keun revealed the dark underside of Berlin's "golden twenties" with both empathy and honesty. Unfortunately, a Nazi censorship board banned Keun's work in 1933 and destroyed all existing copies of , The Artificial Silk Girl. Only one English translation was published in Great Britain, before the book disappeared in the chaos of the ensuing war. Today, more than seven decades later, a new translation is about to bring this lost classic to light once more.
At the beginning of The Artificial Silk Girl, Doris vows to write down all that happens to her—not as a mere diarist, but as the glamorous star of her own life-story. "I want to write like a movie," she declares. But, instead of scripting what she hopes will be a quick rise to fame and fortune as either an actress, or as the mistress/wife of a wealthy man, Doris describes a slow descent into near prostitution and homelessness. She becomes the cinematic lens through which we see pre-war Berlin. It is not the dazzling and exciting city of promise it seems to be on the surface; Doris unwittingly shows us a bleak, seamy urban landscape. In the words of another character in the novel, "the city is sick." It is "sick" with intolerance, cruelty, and apathy ... On every corner, there are beggars and whores and men selling perfume and posters of naked women. Doris hungers for a real home, real silk blouses, real love ... But, there is no Hollywood happy ending awaiting her, as there is for Loos's Loralei Lee.
Doris begins her career as an independent woman on the stage, in a play by Schiller. Soon she wangles her way into getting one line to recite. But, then Doris steals a fur coat from the theatre's cloakroom ... She flees from the police and from her home city of Cologne, and travels to Berlin to stay with a friend. In Berlin, she is unable to get a job. Nevertheless, as long as she has the fur, the ultimate symbol of luxury and seductive glamour, she feels invincible. And she is unwilling to return it. When her living situation with the friend and the friend's husband proves difficult, Doris leaves, but has no one to whom she can turn. Will she be able to survive on her own on the streets of Berlin? Will she, at last, be able to give up on the Hollywood dream?
Keun is an important literary voice—at last rediscovered and restored to the same heights as such literary luminaries as Isherwood and Brecht. The Artificial Silk Girl belongs on the bookshelf of students of German literature, women's literature, and master works of classic fiction, in general.
From the Inside Flap: The Artificial Silk Girl is a rare portrait of the life of a young German woman at a time when the force of modernity in the Western world was at its most potent: with technology exploding and women freely entering the workforce, a new and frightening sense of existential individuality emerged. In the days before the Nazis came to power and suspended the development of German culture, Doris is a character whose irony and psychological insight startlingly mirror those of her contemporaries in France, England and America.
Title: The Artificial Silk Girl
Book Condition: New
Book Description Other Press, 2002. Book Condition: Good. A+ Customer service! Satisfaction Guaranteed! Book is in Used-Good condition. Pages and cover are clean and intact. Used items may not include supplementary materials such as CDs or access codes. May show signs of minor shelf wear and contain limited notes and highlighting. Bookseller Inventory # 1892746816-2-4
Book Description Other Press. Hardcover. Book Condition: VERY GOOD. little to no wear, pages are clean. The cover and binding are crisp with next no creases. Bookseller Inventory # 2808754649
Book Description Other Press, 2002. Hardcover. Book Condition: Used: Good. Bookseller Inventory # SONG1892746816
Book Description Other Press, 2002. Book Condition: very good. Gently used. Expect delivery in 20 days. Bookseller Inventory # 9781892746818-3
Book Description Other Press, 2002. Hardcover. Book Condition: Very Good. Great condition with minimal wear, aging, or shelf wear. Bookseller Inventory # P021892746816
Book Description Other Press, 2002. Hardcover. Book Condition: Like New. Almost new condition. Bookseller Inventory # P011892746816
Book Description Other Press, 2002. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M1892746816
Book Description Other Press, 2002. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P111892746816
Book Description Other Press. Hardcover. Book Condition: Fine. 1892746816 Like New Condition. Bookseller Inventory # LN7.0805603
Book Description Other Press. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. 1892746816 New Condition. Bookseller Inventory # NEW7.0805603