[COMPLETE][GERMAN]Meine Hölle by Jacob Elias Poritzky

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Post by annise » August 17th, 2018, 10:49 pm

Meine Hölle by Jacob Elias Poritzky (1876 - 1935).

This project is now complete. All files can be downloaded from the catalog page here:https://librivox.org/meine-hoelle-by-jakob-elias-poritzky/

The following is from the introduction to the French translation (Mes Enfers, Editions de la Dernière Goutte, 2007):

“When an old person dies, a library burns.” Jakob Elias Poritzky was not old when he died in 1935. But his books almost disappeared forever. His works were almost entirely destroyed by the Nazi auto-da-fés. “More than destroyed: annhilated, crossed-out” according to the terms used by Nathalie Eberhardt, who translated Mes Enfers in collaboration with Dina Regnier Sikiric. It was when reading a book by Otto Rank, an exegesis that put Poritzky side by side with Maupassant, Poe, and Wilde, that they became interested in this forgotten writer.

Born in 1876 in Poland, he emigrated to Germany with his whole family when he was still an infant. Jews at that time were a marginalized part of society. Poritzky’s father, like many immigrants from the East, was a fervent traditionalist, a “fanatic”. In “Mes Enfers” Poritzky thus poses the question of acculturization, the “burden” of immigrant children. But he also writes of his distaste for dogma, whether religious or scientific, and of his vain quest to find a place for himself and the answers to his questions. The story of Mes Enfers is Poritzky’s story. It is the story of a young German Jew, of Polish origin, at the end of the 19th century, who asks himself where God is.

In his impoverished childhood home in Karlsruhe he came to know his first passion for literature while hiding in the bathroom, because his father did not allow him to read German books. “No, you should not read them. Throw away all these disgusting books. Throw this garbage in the fire! Just pray! That’s the smart thing to do.” And we, the readers, shudder with him in front of this “domestic tyrant”, as he calls him, because he instills into his son, with incredible violence, the fear of this god who is only “a vanity of noise and smoke”. The young man will leave, haunted by a leitmotif: “why doesn’t God answer me?” In fact, why doesn’t this god, who he has been taught to fear and venerate, who is supposedly omnipotent, why doesn’t He help him? And why this hypocrisy on the part of society? In Berlin, via Frankfort and Paris, he tries to find answers to his questions by studying like a madman. All in vain! Science is as disappointing as religion. And he cannot extract himself from a muddy misery. He will never have a place among men. He sees himself as always alone, and he will never find salvation.
This is a very somber book, tinted with bitter irony, without hope, that offers no way out. And yet, it somehow leads to strange and beautiful emotions. Poritzky’s pen is cynical, cruel, acidic…he poses difficult existential questions to which no one has the answers. He describes the bottom of the barrel—unpaid rents, hunger, prostitutes, wretched companions, the grime of the street—to the point that we want to vomit. We feel a little, at times, like we are in Emile Zola’s L’Assommoir, but we are also laughing. Poritzky punctuates his descriptions with biting, delicious jabs. Mes Enfers is, paradoxically, a work full of humor and poetry, and this is in the end one of its most beautiful qualities: it is sombre and profound, but not devoid of frivolity.
  • Text source (only read from this text!): https://archive.org/details/meinehlle00porigoog
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    • Project Code: wNBg8E9B
    • Link to author on Wikipedia (if available): (Jacob Elias Poritzky) : https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jakob_Elias_Poritzky
    • Link to title on Wikipedia (if available):
    • Number of sections (files) this project will have: 13
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Post by robbieali » July 24th, 2019, 3:18 am


Jakob Elias Poritzky was born on January 13, 1876 in Lomza, Poland to Jewish parents and grew up in Karlsruhe, Germany. He published his first book, “History of the Spanish Inquisition”, when he was just eighteen years old. On October 1, 1901 he married the writer Helene Orzolkowska. Their only child, Ruth Rebekka Poritzky, born on August 24, 1902, later became an accomplished opera singer and musician.

Poritzky is a good example of a maskil, a product of the Haskalah (Jewish Enlightenment). He wrote over a hundred works in German, in a range of genres that includes novels, short stories, biographies, essays, literary and social critiques, philosophy, plays, and movie scripts. He was also the director of several playhouses in Berlin and Karlsruhe. In addition, from 1926 to 1932 in Berlin, he moderated a series of programs at one of the first radio stations in Germany, where he interviewed other writers and read from his own works.

Poritzky died at the age of 59 in Berlin on February 1, 1935. He did not live to see the destruction of his works by the Nazis, nor did he live to see his wife Helene and daughter Ruth, in the early morning hours of October 22, 1940, during the Jewish holiday of Sukkoth, taken from their home during a sweep arrest of Jews in Karlsruhe, subsequently deported to a French concentration camp in Gurs, and finally sent to Auschwitz, where they were murdered.

Meine Hölle is a short autobiographical novel that has been described as an anti-bildungsroman. Poritzky completed it in 1900 when he was 24, but did not publish it until 1906, just after his father died, becasue he wanted to avoid hurting his father’s feelings. The story is told in the rebellious, sarcastic voice of a sensitive and insightful young man. We follow this narrator, like Holden Caulfield of The Catcher in the Rye fifty years later, as he wanders the lonely streets of the big city, agonized by his poverty and his inability to help and protect his blind mother, in philosophical conversations with a prostitute named Claire, and railing against the hypocrisy and spiritual bankruptcy of the world in which he finds himself. For all of this, he comes to doubt, blame, and hate God. (Poritzky later (1911) describes how the same questions and feelings about God depicted in Meine Hölle eventually led him to translate St. Augustine’s Confessions from Latin into German.)

This Librivox reading was done from the text available online at:

For more information on Jakob Elias Poritzky, please see:

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Joined: September 15th, 2018, 7:59 pm

Post by robbieali » July 24th, 2019, 4:36 pm

note that the first pages of each of the named chapters correspond to the following page numbers
1 Emotion 1
2 Der Hölle Verhof 13
3 Paris 59
4 Den Hurem Gewidmet 95
5 Die Stadt der Qualen 139
6 Die Teufel 181
7 Empörung 213

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Post by annise » June 20th, 2020, 5:14 pm

This project is now complete. All files can be downloaded from the catalog page here:https://librivox.org/meine-hoelle-by-jakob-elias-poritzky/[/color]

Many Thanks to Availle without whose help I'd have never got this in the catalogue .


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