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Das kunstseidene Mädchen
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Das kunstseidene Mädchen

3.6 of 5 stars 3.60  ·  rating details  ·  561 ratings  ·  70 reviews
Doris ist Sekretärin bei einem zudringlichen Rechtsanwalt. Sie will nicht mehr tagaus, tagein Briefe tippen, sondern ein Star werden. Sie will in die große Welt, ins Berlin der Roaring Twenties.
Taschenbuch, 219 pages
Published January 28th 2001 by List Tb. (first published 1932)
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I first encountered Irmgard Keun when I read After Midnight, her critique of Nazi Germany expressed in the first person narrative of Sanna, a young German woman who doesn't overtly criticise the Nazis at all. In this, Keun's first novel, the protagonist is Doris, another naïve young German woman. First published in 1931, Keun wrote the novel with the idea that it would be a German version of the hugely successful Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. The novel is mostly set in Berlin in the late 1920s, whe...more
Leah Mayes
Why is this hailed as a window to pre-Nazi Berlin when the narrator's observations are not especially insightful, about her environs or about the times in general? Why is this hailed as feminist literature when Doris defines herself in terms of how desirable she is to men and chooses to remain blithely ignorant of the world around her unless it involves increasing her desirability and odds of finding a man to take care of her? There is validity in the comparisons to "Sex and the City" and "Bridg...more
Monica Carter
Tilli says: "Men are nothing but sensual and they only want one thing." But I say: "Tilli, sometimes women too are sensual and want only one thing." And there's no difference. Because sometimes I only want to wake up with someone in the morning, all messed up from kissing and half dead and without any energy to think, but wonderfully tires and rested at the same time. But you don't have to give a hoot otherwise. And there's nothing wrong with it, because both have the same feeling and want the
a classic of feminist lit, from 1931 Germany!! About a strong -- if young party-hard, bad decision making -- woman who's just trying to get over (thanks every day Curtis Mayfield), and does, for the most part. Sure she has to lie some, fake organisms, cadge drinks, lift the occasional haute couture (sp?) item, work at crummy jobs for low pay, freeze her ass off in shitty apartments, have pretty bad hangovers, dance till her feet ache, hide from nazis, etc etc. all in the day of a young woman any...more
das muss man einfach gelesen haben! eine bessere beschreibung des lebensgefühls der 20er jahre gibt es nicht!!!!
Friederike Knabe
There is nothing fake or artificial about the heroine of this surprising work of fiction. First published in 1932 in Germany, it was followed very quickly by its English translation in 1933. It was an immediate hit for a young author's second novel; praised for its pointed sense of humour as well as the underlying critique of society. The story, written in the form of the central character's musings and diary, blends a young woman's daily struggles to make ends meet with an at times sarcastic ye...more
Das Kunstseidene Mädchen (The Artificial Silk Girl) is a book by Irmgard Keun, written in the time of the Weimarer Republik (pre-Nazi Germany). The book is a diary of sorts, without the "Dear diary" sentences. This is just Doris writing what she wants whenever she wants.

Doris is an interesting character. She's living in a middle-large city and bored to death by her job. She describes herself as not that pretty, but she must have been interesting enough, because many men seem to want her, her bos...more
a quick read, a faux memoir, very direct voice, a good window into 30s germany thru a working-class girl's eyes, lots of universal themes. i really enjoyed it.
Wendy Kobylarz-Chouvarda
First published in 1932, taking place in Berlin, this is the story of an uneducated girl
trying to “make it” in any kind of profession: her one goal is to be rich and not have to worry, no matter how she does it. I found the descriptors of the book to be misleading “Damned by the Nazis, hailed by the feminists…”). Looking at content, this one is difficult for me. As always, I’m happy to find out bits of historical information that I didn’t know I didn’t know (for example, in order for our heroin...more
Isa K.
Full disclosure: I may have accidentally stolen this book from BEA ^_^;;;;; You know in the exhibit hall publisher booths are piled high and deep with galleys for people to take for free, but as I was cracking the spine on this one I realized that I hadn't picked it up from a pile of identical copies. Oh it was a galley all right, but it was one of only a handful of copies and sometimes pubs bring these along as 'display only' samples.

So Other Press, if this gem wasn't meant to walk away from th...more
Nicki Markus
The first few pages of this book, I really struggled, trying to follow as Doris shifted from one thought to another, segueing from topic to topic with no real pause. That is why I have always had a general dislike for stream of consciousness novels.

Anyhow, I persevered and gradually found myself getting into the flow of the prose.

The story is simple enough, following Doris as she moves through a string of men and troubles in Berlin in the early 1930's. You get a great sense of time and place fr...more
Irmgard Keun's beautiful novel of working class women in the 1930s is a comic and realistic account. A young girl goes to Berlin to make her way and finds life difficult. The story's realism makes the protagonist more sympathetic in her struggles with life. While a distant relative of Dreiser's Carrie this story reminded me more of the Berlin of Alfred Doblin in the sense that we see people whose lives are on the edge during a time of dramatic change. In many ways this is a miniature version of...more
i feel like people don't like this book, but i really did? it's like right up my alley of 1900s gossip girl; if you liked house of mirth you'll like this. actually this was easier and less dense than house of mirth, but still. i think it's easy to hate or dislike doris for being shallow and materialistic but it's important to remember that she is a young girl trying to make it in berlin, she's places a lot of importance on having material goods because of her experiences - like, she's learned th...more
Really pleasant surprise. I seemed to be tempted to underline every fourth paragraph, as Doris spews out mostly unfiltered truths with a down-to-earth voice, cloaked in just enough naivety to produce a comic effect but not mocking enough to discount her very real observations. For a book written in the 1930s, it seems like the kind of writing you'd find on a tumblr - and I think that is awesome.
Kimmo Sinivuori
If the book was burned by the Nazis it can't be bad. This is a nice snapshot of Berlin during the last days of the Weimar Republic. I find it quite amazing that this could have been written by a young lady in the early 1930's. Well worth a read.
Dec 27, 2011 oriana marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: to-read-soon
compared to Isherwood's Berlin Stories, suppressed / destroyed by the Nazis, and recently republished in a new translation by Other Press? YESSSSSS
wie ein weiblicher chatcher in the rye...
"Bubikopf, schlanke Taille, sportlicher Körper. Das Frauenbild der 20er Jahre."

Doris will nicht mehr arbeiten. Sie will ein Glanz werden und sich absondern von der Normalität. Ihr Schicksal führt sie nach Berlin, wo sie ein Leben zwischen besitzen und besitzlos führt. Dennoch gibt sie ihre Ziele nicht auf, hört auf zu arbeiten und umgarnt ältere Männer um gut bis luxuriös leben zu können. Doch selbst dieser Lebensstil vergeht irgendwann …

„Das kunstseidene Mädchen“ ist der zweite R...more
It's been a while since I loved a book so much. Doris was a cross between Holly Golightly and Sally Bowles, with some extra destitution thrown in. She was such a misanthrope, but she was still so desperate for love, in any form. She was so materialistic and nasty at times to other women (and sometimes men) but she remained so likeable. You just rooted for her in her search for a--for lack of a better word--sugar daddy and/or fame and fortune on the stage. It's funny, the present day iteration of...more
I bought this book in the hopes of using it for a research project on narratives of female Jewish authors in Europe, but realized very quickly that it wasn't appropriate (in retrospect, I can't find any mention of Keun being Jewish online, so I'm not sure how I ended up choosing this at all). Nonetheless, it was an incredibly interesting read, written in a lighthearted style that deceptively serves to strengthen its underlying political messages about female sexual morality in the Weimar era. I...more
An extremely fast read, another one set in Berlin in the early 30s, right before the Nazi takeover. This time, however, it's written by a native German, and the writer and protagonist are female. Tatar's introduction mentions that male authors had often tried to "ventriloquize" (great term!) female characters like Doris, but that there were relatively few actually written by women, so Doris of The Artificial Silk Girl is special for that reason, if no other.

Some reviews I read called Doris shall...more
“Me—and my fur coat who is with me—my skin gets all tense with the desire that someone finds me attractive in my fur, and I find him attractive as well. I’m sitting in a cafe—violins are playing, sending a waft of weepy clouds into my head—something’s crying in me—I want to bury my face in my hands to make it less sad. It has to work so hard, because I’m trying to be a star. And there are women all over the place whose faces are also trying hard.”

doris is a girl trying to make sense of the world...more
Yet another great book by Irmgard Keun. This is the third one I've read of hers (will definitely be hunting down any others that have been translated into English) and she has yet to disappoint me.
The writing felt fresh and vibrant and besides the references to newfangled items like records, it felt like it could've been written yesterday.

Take this small bit: "An industrialist had invited me along. He had come to the theater to pick up free tickets for tomorrow night, because if you have money...more
Keun je nemecka autorka zijici v Koline, zidovka. pritelkyne kische, zweiga , thomasse manna. ziskala popularitu ve 30. letech, pak byly jeji knihy nacisty zakazany, skryvala se za valky v nemecku. po valce problemy s alkoholem, rozbity dum, zivorila, do leceben, jiz nikdy neziskala vetsi slavu. zemrela 1982. cely zivot byla velmi sarmantni, temperamentni, idol muzu.
autobiograficke prvky v romanu kunstseidenes maedchen. hlavni hrdninkou je doris, to co cteme je jeji dennik psany v ich forme. psa...more
Keun je nemecka autorka zijici v Koline, zidovka. pritelkyne kische, zweiga , thomasse manna. ziskala popularitu ve 30. letech, pak byly jeji knihy nacisty zakazany, skryvala se za valky v nemecku. po valce problemy s alkoholem, rozbity dum, zivorila, do leceben, jiz nikdy neziskala vetsi slavu. zemrela 1982. cely zivot byla velmi sarmantni, temperamentni, idol muzu.
autobiograficke prvky v romanu kunstseidenes maedchen. hlavni hrdninkou je doris, to co cteme je jeji dennik psany v ich forme. psa...more
this is the most recent book i have read in german. the main character, a young woman who moves to the big city (berlin) to become a "star", is totally entertaining and engaging right from the start. she is cocky and naive, confident and unsure, clever and ignorant all at the same time. the book is set in a time when life and culture are booming in the bigger cities after world war one and the main character thinks the world is her oyster. of course in berlin, she is met with some rude awakening...more
Barbara Krasnoff
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Interesting view of life in Pre-World War II Berlin...somewhat sad portrait of Doris, who doesn't want to "work" or have a banal life...she drifts along, from man to man, trying to find security and what I liked about the book is that there is no neat ending, no closure just wonder if she continues to drift or where she goes. Fleeting, just like "artifical silk"....loved reading about the parts and neighborhoods in Berlin.
The first book I read in Paris! Well, actually, I started it on the plane from Iceland to Paris (or was it Washington to Iceland? I don't remember), and finished it last night in my dorm room in Paris. Yippee!

Anyway. I thought this was wonderful. I had read Keun's After Midnight and sort of enjoyed it, but it wasn't nearly as decadent and madcap as this one. Of course, parts of this were deadly serious, and running throughout the whole thing was a kind of desperation on Doris' part--she was desp...more
Briauna Mckizzie
By degrees, this novel is both funny and tragic. It tells of the struggle of the "new woman" in a society that is progressive on the surface but still intrinsically supports male dominance and female subservience. Though flighty on the surface, Doris's "diary" provides a critique on the double standards of her society and illustrates the seedy underbelly of "the material girl's" pseudo glamorous life style.
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Irmgard Keun (February 6, 1905 – May 5, 1982) was a German author noteworthy both for her portrayals of life in the Weimar Republic as well as the early years of the Nazi Germany era.

(from Wikipedia)
More about Irmgard Keun...
After Midnight Gilgi, eine von uns Child of All Nations Das Mädchen, mit dem die Kinder nicht verkehren durften D-Zug dritter Klasse

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“Vater unser, mach mir noch mit einem Wunder eine feine Bildung
- das Übrige kann ich ja selbst machen mit Schminke.”
“And I bought myself a thick black notebook and cut some doves out of white paper and stuck them on the cover, and now I'm looking for a beginning. My name is Doris, and I'm baptized and Christian, and born too. We are living in the year 1931. Tomorrow, I'll write more.” 0 likes
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