German fiction in the Schobert film collection

Processing of two large collections of cinema books, totalling several thousand titles, is currently in progress. Cataloguing of the Glynne Parker collection is well advanced, and specific items have already been the basis of posts on the European languages across borders blog. Rather more work remains to be done before processing of the Walter Schobert collection is completed. A film historian whom I recently took to view the two collections is sure they include many titles not otherwise available in national libraries.

Professor Walter Schobert collection - donation label

Professor Walter Schobert collection – donation label

The Parker and Schobert collections complement each other remarkably well. To the limited extent in which they duplicate each other, and existing holdings in the University Library, it is in the English language component, but for neither collection is English the largest language grouping. The emphasis of the Parker collection is on French and Italian material, whilst among Schobert’s books German language material predominates.

The other reason there is relatively little duplication is that the two collectors had different goals and emphases in building their libraries. Parker collects only works of film criticism and history, with silent film a particular enthusiasm. Schobert casts his net much wider, and includes a great deal more ephemeral grey literature, reflecting his role as former director of the Deutsches Filmmuseum. His collection also includes a lot of fiction – novels about the cinema, novels used as the basis for screenplays and novels written by people in the motion picture industry. Establishing why Professor Schobert has included particular titles in his collection can be both rewarding and educational.

I have taken at random five novels catalogued in the last four weeks – all by Germans who were unfamiliar to me – Tilla Durieux, Anna Elisabet Weirauch, Curt Siodmak, Josef Maria Frank and Ulrich Schamoni.

Tilla Durieux (Ottilie Godeffroy, 1880–1971) Auguste Renoir   courtesy of

Tilla Durieux (Ottilie Godeffroy, 1880–1971)
Auguste Renoir
Courtesy of

Tilla Durieux’s novel Eine Tür fällt ins Schloss (CCD.60.346) was published in 1928. Tilla Durieux was a major film and stage actress of the first half of the 20th century, and we have several books about her in the University Library. Her fame was such that she was painted by Renoir, the painting now hanging in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. If I knew nothing about her, her second husband, art dealer and editor Paul Cassirer, was a familiar name, though only now do I discover that on the day he met Durieux in a lawyer’s office to finalise divorce proceedings, he then walked into an adjacent room and shot himself.

Anna Elisabet Weirauch’s Die gläserne Welt (CCD.60.337) of 1921 is subtitled “Film-Roman”. She was an actress from 1904 to 1914, primarily at the Deutsches Theater, and then turned to writing. In 1919 she wrote a pioneering novel of lesbian literature, Der Skorpion. Rather remarkably she carried on living in Germany with her partner throughout the Third Reich, and continued to publish prolifically, even though Der Skorpion was placed on the Liste des schädlichen und unerwünschten Schrifttums. The Library did not hold a copy of Der Skorpion, but thanks to Abebooks that omission was rectified a couple of weeks ago (2014.7.961-963).

The Wolf Man - Original film poster (1941)  Universal Pictures/Wikipedia

The Wolf Man – Original film poster (1941) Universal Pictures/Wikipedia

When Curt Siodmak published Schuss im Tonfilmatelier (CCD.60.333) in 1930, his only connection with the film industry was as an extra in Fritz Lang’s Metropolis in 1927. Like his more famous brother Robert, Siodmak left Germany after Hitler and the Nazis came to power, moving first to England as a screenwriter, and then in 1937 to Hollywood, writing and directing for Universal Studios. He contributed the original screenplay to 1941’s The wolf man (tagline: “His hideous howl a dirge of death!”) starring Lon Chaney Jr and Claude Rains, which established a new Universal monster and a whole run of films.

Novelist and script writer Josef Maria Frank wrote his Der Mann, der Greta Garbo liebte (CCD.60.334) in 1933. This is the second novel so far in Schobert’s collection which features Greta Garbo as subject. Please check out the Library of Congress subject heading string Garbo, Greta, 1905-1990Fiction for new items which are added in the future on this subject.

In 1962, the year that he published his novel Dein Sohn lässt grüssen (CCD.60.325), Ulrich Schamoni was also one of the signatories to the Oberhausen Manifesto. Other signatories included Alexander Kluge and Edgar Reitz, and the manifesto was seen as paving the way for a new and more realistic German cinema, and was associated with the motto “Papas Kino ist tot”.

David Lowe

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