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By Elisabeth Langgässer
The Quest adapts the classical myth of the Argonauts to the desolate aftermath of post-war Germany: seven strangers make a pilgrimage to the convent of Anaistaiendorf. Synchronizing the Jewish and Christian scriptures with Eastern philosophy and Greek and Germanic mythologies, Langgässer reckons with the horror of the Holocaust, the relentless, global destruction of life and dispersal of disease, and the unprecedented terror of nuclear conflict. Critically regarded as one of the best German efforts to confront the post-war moral burden, The Quest is a powerful, markedly complex novel, certain to stir the conscience.
Thus the shoe has become a symbol of all journeyings and of this expedition in particular: this thoroughly ill-starred and tedious pilgrimage…
Elisabeth Langgässer (1899–1950) was a German author, poet, and teacher. A Roman Catholic by faith and Jewish by heritage, she was barred from publishing in Nazi Germany. In her poetry and prose alike, Langässer explored the meaning of freedom and the possibility of goodness in a deeply broken world. In 1950, she was posthumously awarded the Georg Büchner Prize, the most important German literary award for the German language.