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The legacy of Hubert Schumann

Hubert Schumann (1941-2013) - the works of Hubert Schumann are characterised by "aesthetic sensitivity, the empathy and sense of responsibility towards the original as well as towards the German language". Jürgen Gruner on the occasion of the awarding of the "Volk und Welt" translator's prize in 1979

Hubert Schumann was born in 1941 in Kenzingen im Breisgau and grew up in Hainichen. Between 1961 and 1966, he studied Slavic studies at the University of Leipzig. After graduating, he worked for two years as an editor for Slavic languages at the Reclam publishing house. He then followed his wife Barbara to Warsaw, where she worked in the cultural department of the GDR embassy as an interpreter, among other things. In the same embassy, Hubert Schumann worked in the press department from 1968 to 1973.

After returning from Warsaw, he took over the editorial office at the Aufbau publishing house in Berlin for a short time, but soon decided to become a freelance translator. From 1974, he worked as a literary translator, reviewer and editor with various publishing houses in the GDR, mainly Volk und Welt. Like any translator, he was also a connoisseur of literature and a promoter of literary figures, maintaining close contact with the Polish literary scene, always on the lookout for interesting titles and new talents.

Schumann attached great importance to complete independence from political structures and also refused membership in the GDR writers' association.

With the dissolution of most GDR publishing houses, this turning point brought a profound caesura in the biographies of many translators. Hubert Schumann renounced his artistic independence after 1990, gave up literary translation and worked as head of the stenographic service of the Brandenburg state parliament in Potsdam from 1992 to 1999. He died in 2013.

In his most productive years (1974-1990) he published over 40 books, as well as numerous short stories and smaller forms in anthologies. He translated works by Stanisław Lem ("Fiasco", "Local Date", "The Flop"), Marek Hłasko ("Port of Desire"), Kazimierz Moczarski ("Conversations with the Executioner"), Igor Newerly ("The Hill of Blue Dream"), Hanna Krall ("Preceding the Lord God", "Dance at a Foreign Wedding"), among others. He was also highly regarded as a reviewer, writing over 90 reviews for various publishers.

Source: Worbs, Erika: "Hubert Schumann (1941-2013) und seine Übersetzungen aus dem Polnischen". In: Aleksey Tashinskiy, Julija Boguna, Andreas F. Kelletat (eds.): Übersetzer und Übersetzen in der DDR. Studies in the History of Translation. Berlin 2020.

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