of Nazi Germany. Irmgard Keun's exile ended on the note of ironic tragedy which characterizes her best writing: the Nazi invasion of Holland caught her in a hospital bed with measles, and she was arrested and returned to Germany. Little has been heard of her since. Despite rumors of suicide, it is known that she was alive at least as late as 1942.
from After Midnight by IRMGARD KEUN, translated by James Cleugh
MY NAME IS SUSANNE. Susanne Moder. I'm called Sanna for short. I like my nickname because it shows people have always been nice to me. You're unpopular if you're never called anything but your full baptismal name. Franz used to have such an affectionate way of saying 'Sanna.' Because all his thoughts are slow and smooth, like velvet . . .
I wonder what his mother, that beast Aunt Adelheid, is up to. Someone ought to do something to her. Why haven't I? If I were still a child I should certainly have laid a plot against her by this time. And it wouldn't have been any laughing matter for her either. The old sow! When people grow up, they put up with much more than they ever did before. They get soft. When we were children we always used to have our revenge when people were mean to us. And quite right, too.
Aunt Adelheid is absolutely uneducated, but she's a perfect monster of cunning. There are several reasons why she hates me. In the first place because Father sent me to the secondary school at Coblenz. He always believed in children being taught something. I don't much care for learning things. My head isn't built that way. Algin's is and anybody can see what education has done for him.
Algin Moder is my stepbrother. He's a well-known author and is seventeen years older than I am. His real name is Alois, but he changed it himself because the name Alois suits a humorist better and Algin is not a humorist.
When his mother died, my father married again and I am the child of that second marriage. My own mother died early, too. It wasn't my father's fault. He was always good to women. He