Jakob Wassermann

My First Wife
  • My First Wife

  • My First Wife is Jakob Wassermann's intense, powerful account of a marriage - and its ruinous collapse - translated by the award-winning translator of Alone in Berlin, Michael Hofmann.

    It is the story of Alexander Herzog, a young writer, who goes to Vienna to escape his debts and a failed love affair. There he is pursued by book-loving Ganna: giddy, girlish, clumsy, eccentric and wild. Dazzled and unnerved by her devotion to him, and attracted to the large dowry offered by her wealthy father, he thinks he can mould Ganna into what he wants. But no-one can control her troubling passions. As their marriage starts to self-destruct, Herzog will discover that Ganna has resources and determination of which he had no idea - and that he can never escape her.

    Posthumously published in 1934 and based on the author Jakob Wassermann's own ruinous marriage, My First Wife bears the unmistakable aura of true and bitter experience. It is a tragic masterpiece that unfolds in shocking detail. Now this story of rare intensity and drama is brought to English readers in a powerful new translation by Michael Hofmann.


    'Like something out of Chekhov - it's all there, the ennui, the preening etiquette, the intellectual posturing ... painfully heartfelt ... My First Wife is a devastating indictment of the choices we make out of convenience against our hearts and instincts, and the tragedies that ensue' Independent

    'You won't find a more agonising, fascinating literary account of a marriage hitting the rocks' Mail Online

Jakob Wassermann (1873-1934) was a prominent - and towards the end of his life bestselling - German-Jewish wrtier who lived mostly in Vienna after 1906. Wassermann was most renknowed for his fiction but also wrote plays, biographies and a memoir My Path as a German and a Jew. He was friends with Rainer Maria Rilke, Thomas Mann and many other prominent writers of the time. His books were burned and forbidden by the Nazis starting in 1933. My First Wife is undoubtedly based in part on Wassermann's own troubled marriage to Julie Speyer.

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