Johnson, Uwe

Johnson, Uwe ü´vā yôn´zôn [key], 1934–84, German novelist. Johnson's works explore the complex effects on the average German of the postwar division of their nation, both halves of which he sees as zones of moral poverty. His best-known novels include Mutmassungen über Jakob (1959; tr. Speculations about Jacob, 1963) and Das dritte Buch über Achim (1961; tr. The Third Book about Achim, 1966). In the monumental yet intimate Jahrestage (4 vol., 1970–83, tr. Anniversaries, 1975; tr. in 2 vol., 2018), a German single mother, who has immigrated to Manhattan with her 10-year-old daughter, writes a diary during the blood-soaked year of 1968 and also tells her daughter about life in Nazi Germany and Communist East Germany. In these, his last and most ambitious novels, Johnson relates through his protagonist his sense of the relationship of the failure of liberalism in the United States in the 1960s to its failure in Germany in the 1930s.

See biography by M. Boulby (1974).

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