The House of Childhood

Marie Luise Kaschnitz, Author, Anni Whissen, Translator, Hal H. Rennert, Afterword by
Marie Luise Kaschnitz, Author, Anni Whissen, Translator, Hal H. Rennert, Afterword by University of Nebraska Press $25 (101p) ISBN 978-0-8032-2723-1
Reviewed on: 12/01/1990
Release date: 12/01/1990
Originally published in Germany in 1956, this compelling novel consists of a series of journal entries detailing the anonymous narrator's visits to a kind of museum in which episodes of childhood are reenacted as theater pieces and short films. Although she remembers little of her youth, the narrator is at first reluctant to enter this House of Childhood. But she becomes more and more curious, eventually leaving her job and her lover to research the museum's store of facts and memories. She sees herself as an ostracized overweight schoolgirl and watches a show of lifesize female puppets representing the odd assortment of governesses who took care of her as a child. The metaphor of psychotherapy that unfolds as the narrator confronts and then understands repressed scenes from her past feels somewhat belabored. But Kaschnitz's literary use of psychological concepts, such as the interpretation of dreams, is original and engaging, and her writing is crisp, clear and full of myriad meanings. Rennert is a professor of Germanic and Slavic languages at the University of Florida. (Dec.)
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