Keilson, Hans Alex

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Keilson, Hans Alex

Hans Alex Keilson, 1909–2011, German-Dutch novelist and physician. He attended medical school in Berlin, but Nazi racial laws prevented Keilson, who was Jewish, from practicing. In 1933 he published his first novel, Leben geht welter (tr. Life Goes On, 2012), a depiction of Germany between the World Wars; it was banned by the Nazis in 1934. Keilson moved (1936) to the Netherlands and began a new novel, Tod des Widersachers (tr. 1962 as The Death of the Adversary), a semiautobiographical work about a young German-Jewish man at the outset of the Nazi era, but he put it aside (he would later complete it) when he was forced (1940) to go into hiding and joined the Dutch underground. His war experiences were later reflected in the novella Komödie in Moll (tr. Comedy in a Minor Key), published in the Netherlands in 1947 and in Germany in 1959. Both works treat their grim subject matter with a surprisingly light touch. After the war Keilson trained as a psychoanalyst, specializing in treating Jewish children who had survived the Holocaust, and stopped writing fiction. His works were rediscovered, however, and after both books were published in new translations in 2010, Keilson became a celebrated author.

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