Nelly Sachs’s Literary Transformation in Exile, 1940–1947

This article examines the literary transformation of Nelly Sachs during her first seven years of exile in Sweden. It argues that her literary transformation went through three phases. During the first phase,“naïve exile,” she tried to have her previous poetry and prose from her Berlin period translated into Swedish. In the second phase, “silence, knowledge, gathering traces,” she understood the consequences of the Holocaust and altered her way of writing. The poetry of the third phase, in which she transformed into the poet we know today, is marked by “surviving and witnessing.” She saw writing as necessary to survival and tried to bear witness to what happened for those who were murdered in a literary form.

Author(s): Daniel Petersen 

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