Leppin, Paul 1878-1945
Leppin, Paul 1878-1945
Born November 27, 1878, in Prague, now the Czech Republic; died April 10, 1945, in Prague, Czech Republic, of complications from syphilis and a stroke; son of Josef Leppin (a clockmaker) and Pauline Scharsach (a teacher); married Henriette Bogner, 1907.
Writer and editor. Fruhling (title means "Spring") and Wir (title means "We"), editor; worked as an accountant for the telegraph and postal service in Prague until retiring for his health.
Union of German Writers (secretary).
Schiller Memorial Prize, 1934; Honorary Recognition for Writers, from the Czechoslovak Ministry of Culture, 1938.
The Doors of Life (novella), 1901.
Daniel Jesus: ein roman, J. Hegner (Berlin, Germany), 1905.
Severins gang in die finsternis: ein prager gespensterroman, Delphin-verlag (Munich, Germany), 1914.
Prager rhapsodie (poetry collection), two volumes, 1938.
Monika: Thirteen Chapters a Love from Hell, 1944.
Der gefangene: gedichte eines alten mannes (title means "The Prisoner"), Universität-Gesamthochschule Siegen (Siegen, Germany), 1988.
Others' Paradise, translated by Stephanie Howard and Amy R. Nestor, Twisted Spoon Press (Prague, Czech Republic), 2003.
Blaugast: A Novel of Decline, Twisted Spoon Press (Prague, Czech Republic), 2008.
Contributor of poetry and prose to various periodicals in Germany and Prague.
Paul Leppin was born November 27, 1878, in Prague, in the region that has since become the Czech Republic. The son of a schoolteacher and a clockmaker who had been forced by circumstances to give up his trade and work instead as a law clerk, Leppin understood there was no money for him to attend university, so after finishing his secondary education he went to work for the Telegraph and Postal Service as an accountant. He was interested in deeper ideas and thought, however, and loved to write, so he applied himself in his free time to the creation of poems, essays, short stories, and anything else that came to mind. Because he loved parties and songs, he joined with a group of local bohemians, leading to a rich life outside the confines of his job. He and many of his friends came to be regarded as the premier group of young Prague German artists of their generation, known as Jung-Prag, or Young Prague. The group was responsible for two literary journals, both of which Leppin edited: Fruhling, or "Spring," and Wir, or "We." The combination of the journals and Leppin's early work led to his budding reputation throughout the region. However, within the confines of Prague, his work raised eyebrows and often drew attacks. His first novel, Daniel Jesus: ein roman, which was elsewhere critically acclaimed, was labeled as pornography in his hometown. Wir was forced to cease publication after just two issues due to continued attacks on anything connected to Leppin. He participated in the Union of German Writers in Czechoslovakia, eventually becoming secretary, and in a number of political organizations. In 1934, he was awarded the Schiller Memorial Prize for his contributions to literature, and in 1938, the Czechoslovak Ministry of Culture presented him with an Honorary Recognition for Writers. His two-volume work of poems, Prager rhapsodie, was published that same year, and it was the last of his work to see print during his lifetime.
As the political climate in Germany and its environs became more serious, Leppin found himself more frequently a target. Eventually he was seized and questioned by the Gestapo. While he never knew the precise reason for his arrest, critics speculate that he was accused of being homosexual, and that the timber of this writings did nothing to discourage the impression. He also refused to join the Literary Society of Germany when invited, due to its Nazi sponsorship. Ultimately, his poor health, caused by a combination of syphilis and a stroke, led to his relatively early death in 1945. However, his work has remained, including several volumes that have finally been released in English translation in the last two decades, such as Others' Paradise and Blaugast: A Novel of Decline. A contributor for Kirkus Reviews found Blaugast to be "a frighteningly unsentimental novel of human degradation with echoes of both Kafka and Dostoyevsky."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, September 15, 2003, Ray Olson, review of Others' Paradise, p. 211.
Kirkus Reviews, September 15, 2007, review of Blaugast: A Novel of Decline.
Book Forum,http://www.bookforum.com/ (July 22, 2008), Tess Lewis, "Paul Leppin's Blaugast: A Novel of Decline."
Book Munch,http://www.bookmunch.co.uk/ (July 22, 2008), Annie Clarkson, review of Blaugast.
Twisted Spoon Press Web site,http://www.traktor.cz/ (July 22, 2008), author profile.