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Two Women and a Poisoning

Translated by Imogen Taylor

What would it take for a woman to poison her husband? Young couple Elli and Link have been married for a year when Elli meets Gretchen, and the two soon become friends. When Elli confides in her friend about the abuse she suffers at her husband’s hands, they hatch a plan for Elli to escape. But when their efforts prove unsuccessful, the pair begin to discuss a more permanent solution to Elli’s problem: poison.

Based on a famous murder trial which took place in Berlin in 1923, this short novel by the master of German modernism, Alfred Döblin, explores questions of moral culpability and societal expectations which remain as relevant today as in the 1920s.


Otago Daily Times   

About the Author

Alfred Döblin (1878–1957) was a German novelist, essayist and short-story writer. He was also a doctor, practising psychiatry in working-class Berlin, the setting of both his most famous novel, Berlin Alexanderplatz, and his true-crime tale Two Women and a Poisoning. In 1933, Döblin was forced to flee Germany because of his Jewish origins and...

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About the Translator

Imogen Taylor is literary translator based in Berlin who also translated Fear, Twins and The Missing by Dirk Kurbjuweit. Her translation of Sasha Marianna Salzmann’s Beside Myself was shortlisted for the 2021 Helen & Kurt Wolff Translator’s Prize and the Schlegel-Tieck Prize 2020. More recent work includes Alfred Döblin’s Two Women and a...

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Text publication date:
5 January 2021
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Praise for Alfred Döblin
andTwo Women and a Poisoning

‘A raging cataract of a novel, one that threatens to engulf the reader in a tumult of sensation. It has long been considered the behemoth of German literary modernism, the counterpart to Ulysses.’

‘[An] immense and splendidly gritty novel…funny, shockingly violent, absurd, strangely tender and memorably peopled.’

‘Döblin is never sentimental, or hysterical. He just gets us to listen to the drumbeat of violence throbbing in this city of the mind…One of the great anti-war novels of our time.’

‘I learned more about the essence of the epic from Döblin than from anyone else. His epic writing and even his theory about the epic strongly influenced my own dramatic art.’

‘As gripping today as it was when published in 1924.’

‘For the reader it is as frightening as it is perplexing, as Doeblin has leapt off a true event into an all-involving piece of art.’

Two Women and a Poisoning—in Imogen Taylor’s sensitive translation—has much to contribute to the current search for answers to the terrible question of what brings men—and occasionally women—to kill their intimate partners.’

Other editions ofTwo Women and a Poisoning
  • Two Women and a Poisoning
    ISBN: 9781925923803
    5 January 2021
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