Culture > Events > READING GROUP: TRANSIT BY ANNA SEGHERS / ESCAPE ROUTE TO MARSEILLE
Event Date: 2nd Feb 2020 | 18:30
READING GROUP: TRANSIT BY ANNA SEGHERS / ESCAPE ROUTE TO MARSEILLE
School of Arts, Birkbeck College 43 Gordon Square London WC1H 0PD United Kingdom
Completed in 1942, first published in English and in Spanish in 1944, and eventually in Germany in 1948, Anna Seghers’s novel Transit is one of the great classics of exile literature. Written in her own exile in Mexico throughout 1941, it brilliantly captures the agonising state of limbo that refugees and exiles find themselves in as they wait for governments and bureaucracies to take decisions that can save their lives. In preparation of the screening of the adaption of the novel by Ingemo Engström and Gerhard Theuring Escape to Marseille on 4 April as part of the Essay Film Festival 2020, we invite you to a reading group that will explore some of the themes raised by Seghers's book and the cultural and historical context in which it was written.
Drawing on her own experiences of escaping from Nazi Germany, Seghers tells the story of a young German man, who, having escaped a concentration camp in Germany and a work camp in France, finds himself in Paris as the Nazis are occupying the city. Here an acquaintance from the camp asks him to deliver a letter to a friend, the writer Weidel, a favour that takes the unnamed protagonist on a journey through France to Marseille in late 1940. The seaport in the south of France has become the waiting room for thousands of European exiles and refugees hoping to get visas and tickets for passages to countries across the sea. Initially only an observer, or rather a listener to the stories of the people he meets in the corridors of consulates or in the local cafés, his fate becomes more and more entangled with that of Weidel to whom he was supposed to deliver the letter but never managed to do so. Marseille for him comes the place where he finds his great love and recovers his sense of compassion for others that he had deemed lost.
Reading Group Dates and Venues
1: Wednesday 12 February, 6:30 PM - 8:30 PM, Keynes Library, Birkbeck, 43 Gordon Square, WC1H 0PD
2: Wednesday 11 March, 6:30 PM -8:30 PM, Room 106, Birkbeck, 43 Gordon Square, WC1H 0PD
3: Saturday 4 April, 12:00 PM -13:30 PM (before Escape to Marseille), Goethe-Institut Library, 50 Princes Gate, Exhibition Rd, Knightsbridge, London SW7 2PH
If you wish to join the reading group, please register your interest, so that we can keep in touch with you about the content of the sessions, for example if we are focusing on a specific chapter or thematic aspect of the book.
We will be referring to Margot Bettauer Dembo's English translation of Transit, published by the New York Review of Book Classics in 2013 and widely available to buy online and in bookshops.
If you have any questions about the reading group, please send a message marked "Transit reading group" to the following address: firstname.lastname@example.org
The reading group is part of the series Transit by Anna Seghers - Screen Adaptions & Reading Group