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Colloquia Germanica

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This essay aims to bring attention to the complex intersections of language, translation, and exile through an analysis of the production and various reproductions of Robert Neumann’s Children of Vienna. With this novel, first written in English in the fall and winter of 1945, Neumann wanted to direct attention to the plight of children in the destroyed cities of the former Third Reich and appeal for humanitarian aid from the British and American public. Why, then, considering its original intent as a call for action in response to an acute crisis, did the author retranslate his text almost 25 years later? In pursuing this question, I compare the different versions of the novel to illustrate the kinds of negotiations an author undertakes in a cultural translation of his own work. While the retranslation enables Neumann to stake out his authorial claim over the text and ensure his legacy, his continuous return to the text also allows him to negotiate past traumas. Indeed, in its heteroskopic address of audiences of differing cultures and generations, the text performs the unfinished business of the trauma of war and the necessity of continued collective engagement with the past.


Originally published by Narr/Francke/Attempto-Verlag. under a Creative Commons Green Open Access in Colloquia Germanica, 2017, Volume 50, Issue 2. The Original article can be found here.