The Poor Relation
Translated from the German by Naomi Jackson Groves
7 X 10 inches, 120 pagesErnst Barlach Drama & Artist Series
'OUT OF A CHAOS OF TRIVIALITY AND MASS STUPIDITY the action of the drama develops with wonderful and gripping consistency. Amidst the crazy goings-on, scene after scene emerges, the action takes place with concentrated brevity. Longing for life and despair about life encounter the everyday crowd enjoying a free Sunday. The bit of red blood that flows is just the thing to increase the enjoyment of the inane onlookers: "Is the world not a beautiful place? Why should it be better—are we not all the happiest of souls?" asks the veterinarian surgeon disguised as the goddess Venus.
'The woman born with complete purity, the man who struggles through to purity out of the downcasting defeats of life—they are unable to bridge the way of life that separates them, and both fall victim to it amidst the jeers of the mob.
'Barlach's book is more than an unusually deep "drama of the soul." It is the ecstatic Mystery of a new salvation.'
Naomi Jackson Groves brings her wit and love of language to this translation of The Poor Relation, the second volume in her series of translations of Barlach's dramas. Beginning with her translation of The Dead Day, first presented at the University of Nebraska in 1957 and published by Penumbra Press in 1992, the series is a faithful presentation of the themes and subjects under Barlach's studious eye. So too, each play includes reproductions of the illustrations Barlach made to accompany his dramatic work.
Naomi Jackson Groves
Naomi Jackson Groves has been a boon to Penumbra Press, helping to shape Penumbra's sensibility, while proffering an oeuvre that shows remarkable range. As a diarist, opening up the diaries from her youth abroad exploring the intellectual and artistic life of Europe in the 1930's and 1940's. As the author or editor of books about her uncle, Group of Seven artist A.Y. Jackson. ("A courageous little cuss" is how her uncle sized her up, after her wartime travel in waters infested by German submarines.) As the translator of works by Greenland artist and author, Jens Rosing. As the generous spirit encouraging several other Penumbra projects off the ground. She is renowned for her critical writing and translations of German sculptor and dramatist Ernst Barlach.
Naomi Jackson Groves specialized in German and northern languages. Born in Montreal in 1910, she would graduate from McGill University with a B.A. in 1933 and an M.A. in 1935, from Radcliffe College in 1937, and from Harvard with a Ph.D. in 1950. In addition to teaching German at McGill and Carleton Universities, she re-established and headed the Fine Arts Department at McMaster University (1951-57). Active into her tenth decade, she passed away in December of 2001.
Remembering Naomi Jackson Groves ...
Master of both visual and verbal creations but better known at first for his sculpture in ceramics and in wood, Barlach also wrote eight plays. All have become increasingly appreciated and performed, first in German-speaking countries, later in translation with many interpretations.
Further publications in the Barlach-in-translation series by Penumbra Press will include the remaining dramas, two novels, and some short, miscellaneous prose pieces. With five Barlach museums in Germany, frequent presentation of his plays, a new complete edition of his works being planned, Ernst Barlach (the Doubly-gifted) continues to thrive—and long may he last.
(Self Portrait, 1895: Copyright Ernst Barlach Lizenzverwaltung Ratzeburg)