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Author photo. Hans Keilson, 2007. Credit: Florian Oertel

Hans Keilson, 2007. Credit: Florian Oertel

Hans Keilson (1909–2011)

Author of Comedy in a Minor Key

Includes the names: H. Keilson, האנס קיילסון

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Hans Keilson was born in Bad Freienwalde, Germany on December 12, 1909. He studied medicine in Berlin, but was unable to practice as a doctor because of Nazi laws. His first book, Life Goes On, offered a dark picture of German political life between the wars and was banned by the Nazis in 1934. Two years later, he emigrated to the Netherlands with his future wife. He established a pediatric practice, but lived in a separate house from his wife, a Roman Catholic, on the same street. He began a new novel, The Death of the Adversary, about a young Jewish man's experiences in Germany as the Nazis gain a grip on power, but he put the manuscript aside after the German occupation of the Netherlands in 1940 forced him into hiding. When his daughter was born in 1941, his wife said that the father was a German soldier. Soon after the German occupation, he joined a resistance organization and spent the rest of the war, travelling the country under the name Van den Linden and counseling Jewish children and teenagers separated from their parents and living underground. This work motivated him to train as a psychoanalyst. After the war, he helped found an organization to care for and treat Jewish orphans who had survived the Holocaust. His experiences in hiding provided the material for the novella Comedy in a Minor Key, about a Dutch couple who shelter an elderly Jew who dies of natural causes. After carelessly disposing of the body, they too must go into hiding. It was published in 1947. He resumed writing The Death of the Adversary and it was published in 1959. Although the novel sold well and Time magazine named it one of the top 10 books of the year, he slipped into literary obscurity and wrote no more fiction. In 1979 he completed his dissertation, Sequential Traumatization in Children, which was a groundbreaking work on the effects of the war on orphaned and displaced Jewish children in the Netherlands. In 2007 a literary translator came across Comedy in a Minor Key and mounted a successful campaign to resurrect Keilson's works. In 2010, his translations of The Death of the Adversary and Comedy in a Minor Key were published in Great Britain and the United States. Keilson died on May 31, 2011 at the age of 101. (Bowker Author Biography) — biography from Comedy in a Minor Key… (more)
Disambiguation Notice

(nor)Benjamin Cooper is the pen name of Hans Alex Keilson and G. Klaass

Benjamin Cooper is the pen name of Hans Alex Keilson and G. Klaass

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Information from the German Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Short biography
Hans Keilson, born to a Jewish family in Bad Freienwalde, near Berlin, Germany, was educated as a physician. He published his first novel, Life Goes On, at age 23. After the rise of the Nazi regime in 1933, he was prohibited from practicing medicine and his book was banned. He worked for a while as a gym instructor in Jewish private schools. In 1936, he fled to The Netherlands with his future wife, Gertrud Manz. His parents were deported to Auschwitz, where they both died. In Holland, Dr. Keilson began a new novel, The Death of the Adversary, but put aside the manuscript and buried it in his garden after the German Occupation of the country in 1940. In 1941, he went into hiding with a Dutch couple, Leo and Suus Rientsma, under a false identity. Gertrud, who was not Jewish and was pregnant, lived nearby. During this time, Dr. Keilson worked with the Dutch Resistance, taking care of Jewish children living with foster parents after being separated from their biological families. After the war, he was reunited with Gertrud and his daughter, and the couple were able to marry. He went on to practice as a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, specializing in the care of children traumatized by the war. He wrote Sequential Traumatisation in Children (1979), a groundbreaking and widely-translated study. In 1970, following the death of his first wife, Dr. Keilson remarried to Marita Lauritz, a literary critic 25 years his junior, with whom he had another daughter. He published poetry and several more novels, receiving warm reviews but little acclaim. The Death of the Adversary, finally published in German in 1959, was a bestseller in English in 1962, but he remained in obscurity. Then, when Dr. Keilson was nearly 100 years old, Francine Prose reviewed two of his novels in The New York Times and called him "one of the world's very greatest writers." He became an international media sensation and The Death of the Adversary again became a bestseller. His diary from the year 1944, discovered among his papers after his death, was published in 2017 and has been called "an incomparable spiritual X-ray of the mind and heart behind the art."
Disambiguation notice
Benjamin Cooper is the pen name of Hans Alex Keilson and G. Klaass

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