The Linguist

TheLinguist 58,3-June/July 2019

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 13 of 35

14 The Linguist Vol/58 No/3 2019 FEATURES East Germany were Russian, versus only 2% in West Germany; conversely, only 5.5% of translated titles in East Germany were American/British works compared with 55% in West Germany. 5 HIGHBROW ENTERTAINMENT While Russian titles predominated in the Soviet zone in the immediate post-war period, American writing prevailed in the western zones, as exemplified by Rowohlt's Ro-Ro-Ro (Rowohlt Rotations Romane) series, established in Hamburg in December 1946. The first ever German paperbacks, these were large-format novels printed on cheap newspaper stock, which sold at no more than 50 pfennig apiece, thus securing Rowohlt's position as the leading German publisher by early 1947. In line with Rowohlt's values, the Ro-Ro-Ro programme focused on émigré, previously forbidden and new works in German, as well as works by foreign authors that would help young German readers to think in a wider European context again. The programme was welcomed by the British, who granted the publisher sufficient paper to produce 10,000 copies of each book – double the usual run of 5,000. As the first four Ro-Ro-Ros show, a strong emphasis was placed on western modernism: Ernest Hemingway's In Another Country was followed by Kurt Tucholsky's Schloβ Gripsholm, Joseph Conrad's Typhoon and Alain- Fournier's Le Grand Meaulnes. These were published prior to the currency reform of June 1948, after which books had to vie, often unsuccessfully, with other forms of culture and entertainment. The series was also supposed to feature foreign authors who appeared in Rowohlt's influential Pinguin magazine aimed at 15-30-year-olds, including Thomas Wolfe, Albert Camus, Mark Twain, Simone de Beauvoir, John Steinbeck, Jean-Paul Sartre and Graham Greene. However, these plans were not all realised due to severe paper shortages from the beginning of 1948, as well as copyright issues. 6 The Ro-Ro-Ros, then, could not be characterised as literature aimed at educating toward democracy or denazification. They constituted highbrow entertainment, which also prevailed in the Soviet zone. Thus, to borrow the title of the first Ro-Ro-Ro, German readers and opinion makers in all zones were living "in another country". This article is based on Anne Stokes's 2018 presentation for CIOL's Scottish Society; Notes 1 Hench, J (2010) Books as Weapons: Propaganda, publishing, and the battle for global markets in the era of World War II, Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1 2 See ibid. for further information 3 During a speech at the opening of the first book exhibition in Bielefeld in February 1947 4 Ernst Rowohlt in interview, December 1946 5 See Wurm, C (2015) Gestern. Heute. Aufbau: 70 Jahre Aufbauverlag 1945-2015, Berlin: Aufbau 6 See Oels, D (2013) Rowohlts Rotationsroutine: Markterfolge und Modernisierung eines Buchverlags vom Ender der Weimarer Republik bis in die fünfziger Jahre, Essen: Klartext Verlag LITERARY PROGRAMME General Eisenhower (centre) and commanders of the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF), which coordinated the book distribution programme

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of The Linguist - TheLinguist 58,3-June/July 2019