Johannes Bobrowski

The great-great nephew of Joseph Conrad, Johannes Bobrowski (1917–1965) was born in Tilsit, East Prussia. He began to write poetry on the Eastern Front in 1941, and was a prisoner of war in Russia from then until 1949, when he returned to Germany. He lived in East Berlin and worked as a reader for the publishing house Union Verlag until his death in 1965 of an infection. He received major literary awards for his poetry and fiction in Austria, Switzerland, East and West Germany.

Levin’s Mill

Fiction by Johannes Bobrowski

Translated by Janet Cropper

Johannes Bobrowski (1917-1965) is known as one of Germany’s greatest writers. His first novel, set in a West Prussian village in 1874, tells the story of the narrator’s grandfather, who plots and schemes to ruin the Jewish newcomer who has built a mill downstream from him. With splendid irony, Bobrowski describes the diverse characters of the Jews, Poles, Gypsies, and Germans who inhabit the village, and whose affairs mirror the larger history of Poland.…
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Darkness and a Little Light

A P.O.W. in Russia after World War II, Bobrowski (1917-1965) returned to his forever-changed native province, former East Prussia, in 1949. His lost homeland––which he called by the region’s ancient name of Sarmartia––haunts all his work. Full of longing and an astonishing poetic beauty, the stories in Darkness and a Little Light are visionary elegies to vanished ways of life. Some of the stories, set in the nineteenth century or in the darkness of World War II, are directly threnodic.…
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Shadowlands: Selected Poems

Johannes Bobrowski is widely regarded as the most important German poet of this century. He began to write poetry on the Eastern Front in 1941 where, as a 24-year-old German soldier in Kaunas, he saw the “slavering wolves” of the SS drive the “grey processions” over a hill to death. A prisoner-of-war in Russia until 1949, he returned to Berlin to write with a purpose: to inform his countrymen of the history and myths of Eastern Europe and to preserve the memory of his childhood home.…
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