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Schloß Gripsholm

  • Country in which the text is set
    Sweden
  • Featured locations
    Berlin
    Mecklenburg (Warnemünde)
    Laaland (Lolland)
    Kopenhagen - Copenhagen
    Helsingör - Helsingør/Elsinor
    Stockholm
    Mariefred: Schloß Gripsholm - Gripsholm Castle
  • Impact

    The introductory, fictitious correspondence between the well-known publisher Ernst Rowohlt and the author Kurt Tucholsky lends this book the appearance of a commissioned work—a non-political piece of light holiday reading. The selection featured here charts the journey taken by the first-person narrator and his mistress Lydia from Berlin to Stockholm via Warnemünde and Copenhagen. On arriving in Stockholm they look for holiday accommodation and are eventually directed to Gripsholm Castle on Lake Mälar (chapter 1). There they talk, swim, make love, eat and drink (chapter 2), experiences that are enriched by the arrival of his friend Karlchen in the third chapter and of her friend Sybille (“Billie”) in the fourth chapter. The core of a plot is delivered by a nearby children’s home, which is ruled with an iron hand by its witchlike German headmistress Adriani, prompting bleak visions on the part of the narrator. The sworn friends manage to free the little girl Ada from Adriani’s prison with the help of the girl’s mother in faraway Switzerland (fifth and final chapter).

    When Gripsholm Castle was published in May 1931, Tucholsky had already been living in Sweden for two years, not far from where the novel is set. The book and his emigration mark the author’s definitive resignation in the face of the political situation in Germany. The book was an immediate success and sold 50,000 copies in the short period prior to the author’s work being banned in 1933. After 1945 it went through numerous reprints and book-club editions in both German states. Critics reserved particular praise for the easy, amusing tone of the story and the author’s lightness of touch. Tucholsky did not live to see a translation.

  • Balticness

    With its account of the narrator’s journey, the first chapter in particular constructs a bridge between northern Germany, Denmark and Sweden. It becomes clear that the two lovers from Berlin are seeking peace and tranquillity in the north. Although the landscape is not described with the detail of a travelogue and the author expressly abstains from holding forth on the Swedish national character (chapter 1, no. 5, p. 166), a sense of belonging to the Baltic Sea coast is expressed above all in the book’s language: Mecklenburg “Missingsch”, the mixed dialect the narrator repeatedly has his “princess” fall into. The fact that the author Tucholsky’s praise for Low German (chapter 2, no. 2, p. 203f) was meant seriously is witnessed by his highly critical book Deutschland Deutschland über alles, which was publishedin 1929. In the final chapter, which is devoted to the love of homeland, he writes that everyone has his “private Germany. Mine lies in the north […] and the further one travels north, the louder beats one’s heart, until one catches the scent of the sea.”

    Hans Peter Neureuter

  • Bibliographic information

    Kurt Tucholsky: Gesamtausgabe. Texte und Briefe. Hg. von Antje Bowitz, Dirk Grathoff, Michael Hepp, Gerhard Kraiker. Bd. 14: Texte 1931. Hg. von Sabina Becker, Reinbek (Rowohlt) 1998, S. 151-174 und 203-205

  • Translations
    Language Year Translator
    Danish 1982 Henrik G. Poulsen
    Danish 1967 Gerd Thorkild Hansen
    English 1985 Michael Hofmann
    Norwegian 1995 Per Qvale
    Swedish 1957 Gunnar Gunnarson
    Swedish 1958 Birgit Hård af Segerstad
  • Year of first publication
    1931
  • Place of first publication
    Berliner Tageblatt March-April 1931
    Book edition Hamburg (Rowohlt) May 1931

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