Oskar Maria Graf

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Graf, Oskar Maria


Born July 22, 1894, in Berg, Bavaria; died June 28, 1967, in New York. German writer.

A baker’s son, Graf ran away from home and led a vagabond’s life. He joined the army in 1915. He was sentenced to be shot for mutiny but was confined to a psychiatric hospital instead. He took part in the revolutionary movement of 1918–19 as a member of an independent social democratic party. In 1933 he emigrated and wrote an open-letter pamphlet to the Nazi government, “Burn Me” (1933). Graf’s first books were the collections of poems Revolutionaries (1917) and the novella The Early Time (1922; Russian translation, 1925). The novel We Are in a Trap (1927) is autobiographical. One of the significant works of antifascist literature is Grafs novel Anton Sittinger (1937; Russian translation, 1939). The novel The Unrest Caused by the Peacemaker (1948) portrays the everyday life of the Bavarian countryside. The novel The Conquest of the World (1948) describes the dreadful consequences of atomic war. Also well known are the play Ballad of a Small Town (1952), the novel Escape to Mediocrity (1959). and the collection of stories The Peasant’s Big Mirror (1962).


Das Gelächter von aussen: Aus meinem Leben. 1918–33. Munich. 1966.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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Walter peels away the layers of legend which have hitherto obscured the biographies of prominent anti-Nazis--not only Brecht and the brothers Mann, whose cases are well known, but more particularly Egon Erwin Kisch, who painstakingly concealed his earlier German nationalism, Oskar Maria Graf, who continued to embroider his account of his wartime dissidence well beyond the 1920s, Kurt Tucholsky, who evidently disapproved of the war but focused his wartime efforts on securing the continuity of his writing career, and Rene Schickele, who emerges as less of a political dissenter than is usually supposed.
First of all, the Brechtian collection of Kalendergeschichten (literally, "Tales from the Calendar" - i.e., almanac stories) represents a popular form of narrative that boasts a rich and venerable indigenous tradition, counting in its ranks the Simplicissimus author from the seventeenth century, Grimmelshausen, as well as the undisputed master of that entire subgenre, Johann Peter Hebel from the early nineteenth century; more recently, Brecht's fellow countryman Oskar Maria Graf had published two volumes of Kalender-Geschichten (sic) in 1929.