08-translations and legacy


In 1923, Petite Lotte was translated and published in German by Anna Nussbaum (1887-1930), an acquaintance of Romain Rolland. The daughter of a schoolmaster, Nussbaum was born in Cernowitz formerly Galicia (Austrian Empire), then Poland (1918-1939) now Ukraine.
 
Anna Nussbaum was the ideal translator for 'Petite Lotte'. She was one of the first Austrian women to graduate with a PhD in Romance Languages (Latin and French) at the University of Vienna. As an editor, she edited and co-published essays by Viennese schoolchildren with the novelist Else Feldmann. (Reisebuch des Wiener Kindes). She also translated French tales in German. Vom Land Arvor bis zur Gascogne which was illustrated by Axl Leskoschek. Anna Nussbaum also worked for the Schwarwald'sche Schulen which were founded by her aunt Eugenia Schwarzwald born Nussbaum. Schwarzwald was a social reformer who grew up in poverty and thus was considered as a self-made woman. Through her work at the school and as a journalist, Anna became acquainted with the architect Adolf Loos and his daughter Anita Loos (who wrote the US novel 'How to marry a millionaire) , she was part of the Clarte group founded by Henri Barbusse and Romain-Rolland, and it is through Romain Rolland that she discovered 'Petite Lotte' - the German and the Polish translations came out on hardback Renaissance Verlag in 1923. Seven years later, publisher Gloeckner re-published an abridged version on a cheap paperback. In my opinion, Petite Lotte appealed to Anna Nussbaum because of the description of the school where Lotte went, and therefore the possibility of self-improvement through education. She also might have found the third part featuring a social reformer with family in Russia, as a talented academic herself she would have found the character credible. I am grateful that the novel came across her way because I first discovered it through her translation published by Gloeckner. Her indefatigable work was enough incentive to translate the book in English. Anna Nussbaum also translated works by Theodore Dreisler (Sister Carrie), Henri Barbusse (Under Fire) and Upton Sinclair - thus showing her predilection for socially-engaged writers. As a journalist she promoted the works of Carl Larsson, Antoine Mesclon (who campaigned against forced labour). She was also the researcher, co-translator (with Luitpold Stern, Anna Siemsen)  and editor of 'Afrika singt' a collection of contemporary African-American poetry by the likes of W.B. Dubois, Lewis Alexander, Jessie Fausset, Langston Hughes,  Lena Horne and other authors of the New York Harlem Renaissance. The book inspired Alexander von Zemlinsky to write a song-cycle which was broadcast first radio Vienna and all over the German-speaking regions.   Anna Nussbaum died of tuberculosis  in 1931. Her death cut short a promising literary career.

Why did Simone Bodeve's  fade into obscurity? In 1924, Ollendorff was sold to Albin Michel who are still publishing books today. Her works did not become part of the inventory and after seventy years they fell into the public domain. For a while her friends remembered her In 1936, St George de Bouhelier gave an interview about his life work and said that Simone Bodeve was one of the great lost writers.  Nicole Racine wrote an article about Marcel Martinet in 1975 where she refers to Simone. We have to wait until 1992 to find another  mention of Simone, this time in the Revue Romantisme (vol 77) who review Jennifer Waelti-Walters ‘Feminist novelists of the Belle Epoque’. Waelti-Walters mentions Lotte and the relationship between the mother and the daughter but does not consider Simone as an important writer.  In 2003, Elizabeth Pedersen wrote an lengthy dissertation on Romain Rolland where Simone is reviewed in a positive light.

 
I am grateful that the novel came across Anna Nussbaum's way because I first discovered it through her translation published by Gloeckner. My copy used to be owned by  Dr Friedrich Reichenbach-Illing himself a translator and I found it quite by chance discarded on the streets of Vienna in 2003.   Anna Nussbaum's indefatigable work was enough incentive to translate Petite Lotte  in English in January 2016 and pay tribute to Simone Bodeve and the people around her.
Thanks to the internet, I was able to piece this lost writer's story together and the internet is her home now.
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