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Hanns Heinz Ewers Bibliography

The word Mamaloi is new to me. I searched for it on the Internet and came up with a Doobie Brothers song. Here is a passage:

Gypsy, she say I got the fever

I don't know whether to believe her

But when the wind blow from the sea

My soul start to fly away

She give me charm that will protect me

Necklace with stone from far across the sea

But island magic much too strong

It won't let me go this time

The song is about Jamaica. The group hails from California, I guess, but had, in the early 1970s, a Southern/Cajun/Texan kind of vibe. At least that's how I remember them. ("Mamaloi" is from the album Toulouse Street, named for a street in New Orleans. The album also has a song called "Snake Man.") (1) Anyway, if you keep searching, you'll find out that Mamaloi is a name given to a Voodoo sorceress, priestess, or queen. Her male counterpart is Papaloi. Among their powers are the ability "to produce a sleep which is death's twin brother." That's according to Hesketh Prichard in his book Where Black Rules White: A Journey Across and About Hayti (1900). The Mamaloi and Papaloi can also raise the afflicted person--usually a child--from this state of near death only so that he can be used in a human sacrifice.

The raised dead of the Mamaloi sounds a lot like zombie-ism. It seems to me that following the Mamaloi lead might produce some results. But first, before I even started searching, I thought of the musical piece Ma mère l'Oye, or the Mother Goose Suite, by Maurice Ravel (1910). L'oye or l'oie is French for goose. I don't think that's the right track, though. It seems more likely that Mamaloi is a combination of Mama and loi or law. In other words, the Mamaloi is a person of some authority, power, or prestige.

In searching for Mamaloi in literature, I found that, strangely enough, there is a connection to the German author Hanns Heinz Ewers (1871-1943), a fantasist and seeming decadent who lived a strange and interesting life. According to the book Decolonization in Germany: Weimar Narratives of Colonial Loss and Foreign Occupation by Jared Poley (Peter Lang, 2007), Ewers "was deeply fascinated by what he called the Mamaloi." (p. 99) Ewers wrote about the Mamaloi in at least six works, beginning with "Die Mamaloi," from 1907. The subject of "Die Mamaloi" is a Haitian woman, Adelaide, "who kills her son in a voodoo ritual." (p. 99) In that, Ewers seems certain to have read Where Black Rules White.

According to Jared Poley, Ewers' fascination with the Mamaloi was because of her practice of infanticide. (2) Her use of Voodoo magic to afflict a person with near-death seems less the point, and Ewers' use of the word zombie or zombi is uncertain. I found the full text of "Die Mamaloi" in Spanish and searched it for zombie and zombi. No dice. So, again, a seeming miss in the use of those words before William B. Seabrook of 1928. I would add that Ewers is an interesting figure for students and fans of weird fiction. I would like to find a full-length biography and study of his works. I wonder, too, about discovering his works in English.

(1) Notice in "Mamaloi" the phrase "island magic" with its echoes of The Magic Island by William B. Seabrook (1929).
(2) As a moral transgression and an expression of self-loathing, infanticide is likely a sign of decadence in a culture or society. In fact, it would seem a key sign in diagnosing decadence, as it is demonstrates a lack of vigor, confidence, and hope in the individual and his or her society. Jared Poley ties it to "the Baal and Labartu creation myths from the fertile crescent." (p. 99) I am reminded of sacrifices made by Canaanites to Moloch and of the current worldwide practice of abortion, which--whatever its moral implications--is helping to bring about the dissolution of decadent societies. Cannibalism in the modern world, too, is a decadent practice: William Seabrook is supposed to have partaken of human flesh at least once. Aleister Crowley is also supposed to have been a cannibal. In 2001, Armin Meiwes, significantly a German, advertised for someone who would voluntarily be eaten by him. Bernd Jürgen Armando Brandes, significantly a German, answered the ad and ended up in pieces in Meiwes' refrigerator. In 2012, Floridian Rudy Eugene, of Haitian descent, tried to eat the face of a homeless man in Miami. For a time, some people were alarmed that Eugene's actions were the beginnings of a zombie outbreak. Instead, Eugene was probably using a synthetic drug, although his use of marijuana might be enough to explain his psychosis. That brings us to zombies, which are of course, cannibalistic and an ultimate expression of decadence, although wanting to be eaten by another person is probably even more ultimate.

The Sorcerer's Apprentice by Hanns Heinz Ewers in an English edition of 1927, published by John Day, and illustrated by Mahlon Blaine (1894-1969). 

Alraune by Ewers, translated by S. Guy Endore (1900-1970) of The Werewolf of Paris (1933) fame. Published by John Day in 1929, this edition was also illustrated by Mahlon Blaine.
Vampire, the last in Ewers' trilogy of Frank Braun, translated by Fritz Sallagar and published by John Day in 1934. Vampires are associated with zombies as among the undead, moreover, as among the cannibalistic undead.

Blood, a collection of three stories from Heron Press (1930) and including "Mamaloi" from 1907. The pictures were by the children's book illustrator Edgar Parin d'Aulaire (1898-1986).

Although there are many, many more images I might include here on Hanns Heinz Ewers, I have decided to stop with this one, the cover for L'araignée et autres contes fantastiques, a French-language edition with an unknown date. "L'araignée" was originally "Die Spinne," from 1908.

Original text copyright 2017 Terence E. Hanley

Hanns Heinz Ewers (3 November 1871 – 12 June 1943) was a German actor, poet, philosopher, and writer of short stories and novels. While he wrote on a wide range of subjects, he is now known mainly for his works of horror, particularly his trilogy of novels about the adventures of Frank Braun, a character modeled on himself. The best known of these is Alraune (1911).[1][2]


Born at Düsseldorf, Ewers started to write poetry when he was 17 years old. His first noticed poem was an obituary tribute to the German Emperor Frederick III.

Ewers earned his Abitur in March 1891. He then volunteered for the military and joined the Kaiser-Alexander-Gardegrenadier-Regiment No. 1, but was dismissed 44 days later because of myopia.

Ewers's literary career began with a volume of satiric verse, entitled A Book of Fables, published in 1901. That same year he collaborated with Ernst von Wolzogen in forming a literary vaudeville theatre before forming his own such company, which toured Central and Eastern Europe before the operating expenses and constant interference from censors caused him to abandon the enterprise. A world traveler, Ewers was in South America at the beginning of World War I, and relocated to New York City, where he continued to write and publish.

Ewers' reputation as a successful German author and performer made him a natural speaker for the Imperial German cause to keep the United States from joining the war as an ally of Britain. Ewers toured cities with large ethnic German communities and raised funds for the German Red Cross.

During this period, he was involved with the "Stegler Affair". American shipping companies sympathetic to the fight against Imperial Germany reportedly aided the British in identifying German-descended passengers traveling to Germany to volunteer for the Kaiser's army. Many were arrested and interned in prison camps by the British Navy; eventually, German volunteers often required false passports to reach Europe unmolested. Ewers was implicated as a German agent by one of these ethnic Germans, Richard Stegler.

After the United States joined the war he was arrested in 1918 as an "active propagandist," as the US government, as well as British and French intelligence agencies asserted that Ewers was a German agent. They evidenced his travels to Spain during 1915 and 1916, both with an alias using a falsified Swiss passport.[3] Later, a travel report in the archives of the German Foreign Office was discovered indicating that he may have been traveling to Mexico, perhaps to encourage Pancho Villa to hamper the U.S. military by an attack on the United States.

Ewers is associated with the pro-German George Sylvester Viereck,[4] son of the German immigrant and reported illegitimate Hohenzollern offspring Louis Sylvester Viereck (a Social Democrat famous for sharing a prison cell with August Bebel), who was a member of the same Berlin student corps (fraternity) as Ewers.

Ewers' activities as an "Enemy Alien" in New York were documented by J. Christoph Amberger in the German historical journal Einst & Jetzt (1991). Amberger indicates arrival records which demonstrate that Ewers entered the United States in the company of a "Grethe Ewers," who is identified as his wife. Enemy Alien Office records refer to a recent divorce. The identity of this otherwise undocumented wife has never been established and is missing from most biographies.

As a German national he was sent to the internment camp at Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia. Ewers was never tried as a German agent in the United States. In 1921, he was released from the internment camp and returned to his native Germany.

Ewers's first novel, Der Zauberlehrling (The Sorcerer's Apprentice), was published in 1910, with an English translation published in America in 1927. It introduces the character of Frank Braun, who, like Ewers, is a writer, historian, philosopher, and world traveler with a decidedly Nietzschean morality. The story concerns Braun's attempts to influence a small cult of Evangelical Christians in a small Italian mountain village for his own financial gain, and the horrific results which ensue.[3]

This was followed in 1911 by Alraune, a reworking of the Frankenstein myth, in which Braun collaborates in creating a female homunculus or android by impregnating a prostitute with the semen from an executed murderer. The result is a young woman without morals, who commits numerous monstrous acts. Alraune was influenced by the ideas of the eugenics movement, especially the book Degeneration by Max Nordau.[4]Alraune has been generally well received by historians of the horror genre; Mary Ellen Snodgrass describes Alraune as "Ewers' decadent masterwork",[2]Brian Stableford argues Alraune "deserves recognition as the most extreme of all "femme fatale" stories"[4] and E.F. Bleiler states the scenes in Alraune set in the Berlin underworld as among the best parts of the novel.[3] The novel was filmed several times, most recently in a German version with Erich von Stroheim in 1952.

Bleiler notes "Both Alraune and The Sorcerer's Apprentice are remarkable for the emotion the author can arouse" and that Ewers' writing is, at its best, "very effective". However, Bleiler also argues Ewers' work is marred by "annoying pretentiousness, vulgarity, and a very obtrusive and unpleasant author's personality".[3]

The third novel of the sequence, Vampyr, written in 1921, concerns Braun's own eventual transformation into a vampire, drinking the blood of his Jewish mistress.[2]

Another novel, Der Geisterseher (The Ghost-Seer), Ewers' completion of the Friedrich Schiller novel, was published in 1922; Ewers' version was received badly.[2][3]

Ewers also wrote the novel Reiter in deutscher Nacht (Riders in the German Night) published in 1932.

Ewers wrote numerous short stories, those in Nachtmahr ("Nightmare") largely concern "pornography, blood sport, torture and execution".[2] Stories translated into English include the often anthologised "The Spider" (1915), a tale of black magic based on the story "The Invisible Eye" by Erckmann-Chatrian; "Blood", about knife fights to the death; and "The Execution of Damiens", a story about the execution of the 18th-century French criminal Robert-François Damiens that achieved some notoriety for its violence.[3]

Ewers also published several plays, poems, fairy tales, opera librettos, and critical essays. These included Die Ameisen, translated into English as The Ant People, Indien und ich, a travelogue of his time in India, and a 1916 critical essay on Edgar Allan Poe, to whom he has often been compared. Indeed, Ewers is still considered by some as a major author in the evolution of the horror literary genre, cited as an influence by American horror writers such as H. P. Lovecraft and Guy Endore.[4] Students of the occult are also attracted to his works, due to his longtime friendship and correspondence with Aleister Crowley. Ewers also translated several French writers into German, including Villiers de l'Isle-Adam.[4]

Ewers also edited the eight-volume Galerie der Phantasten anthologies of horror and fantasy literature, featuring work by Poe, E. T. A. Hoffman, Oskar Panizza, Honoré de Balzac, Alfred Kubin, Ewers' friend Karl Hans Strobl, Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer and Ewers himself.[5]

During the time Ewers was writing his major horror stories, he was also giving lectures (between 1910 and 1925) on the topic Die Religion des Satan (The Religion of Satan), inspired by Stanisław Przybyszewski's 1897 German book Die Synagoge des Satan (The Synagogue of Satan).[6]

Ewers died in Berlin.

Movie work[edit]

Ewers was one of the first critics to recognize cinema as a legitimate art form, and wrote the scripts for numerous early examples of the medium, most notably The Student of Prague (1913), a reworking of the Faust legend which also included the first portrayal of a double role by an actor on the screen.

Nazi martyr Horst Wessel, then a member of the same corps (student fraternity) of which Ewers had been a member, acts as an extra in a 1926 version of the movie, also written by Ewers. Ewers was later commissioned by Adolf Hitler to write a biography of Wessel (Einer von vielen), which also was made into a movie.

Nazi involvement[edit]

During the last years of the Weimar Republic, Ewers became involved with the burgeoning Nazi Party, attracted by its nationalism, its Nietzschean moral philosophy, and its cult of Teutonic culture, and joined the NSDAP in 1931. He did not agree with the party's anti-Semitism (his character Frank Braun has a Jewish mistress, Lotte Levi, who is also a patriotic German) and this and his homosexual tendencies soon ended his welcome with party leaders. In 1934 most of his works were banned in Germany, and his assets and property seized.[1]Alfred Rosenberg was his main adversary in the party, but after submitting many petitions Ewers eventually secured the rescission of the ban. His last book Die schönsten Hände der Welt ("The most beautiful hands in the world") was published by the Zinnen Verlag (Munich, Vienna, Leipzig) in 1943. Ewers died from tuberculosis in the same year.

Despite his great influence on 20th century fantasy and horror literature, Ewers remains out of favor in bourgeois literary circles (especially in the English-speaking world and Germany)[4] because of his association with the Nazis.[3] As a result, post-World War II editions of his works are often difficult to find, and earlier editions can command a premium price from collectors.

Twenty-first-century translations[edit]

In March 2009 Side Real Press issued an English language collection of short stories including some newly translated material. This was followed by a new uncensored translation of Alraune translated by Joe Bandel which sold out after one year. The Alraune Centennial Edition by Bandel Books Online was released in March 2011. The centennial edition translated by Joe Bandel contains an essay by Dr. Wilfried Kugel, noted Ewers biographer.

"Sorcerer's Apprentice", The First Volume in the Frank Braun trilogy was translated by Joe Bandel and published by Bandel Books Online in September 2012. This is the first uncensored English translation of "The Sorcerer's Apprentice". It includes an Introduction by Dr. Wilfried Kugel; the poems, "Prometheus" by Goethe, and "Hymn to Satan" by Carducci; "The Satanism of Hanns Heinz Ewers", "Duality-The Male", "Duality-The Female", and "Duality-Sexual Alchemy" by Joe Bandel and the complete text of "Synagogue of Satan" by Stanisław Przybyszewski also translated by Joe Bandel.

In 2016 Ajna Offensive published Markus Wolff's English translation of Ewers' 1922 novel Die Herzen der Könige (The Heart of Kings).[7]

In popular culture[edit]

Ewers appears in Kim Newman's novel The Bloody Red Baron, as a predatory vampire who travels briefly with Edgar Allan Poe.


External links[edit]

Hanns Heinz Ewers at the age of 4.
  1. ^ abHenry and Mary Garland, The Oxford companion to German literature.Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1997. ISBN 0198158963 (pp.221–222).
  2. ^ abcdeMary Ellen Snodgrass,Encyclopedia of Gothic Literature. New York, Facts on File (2004). ISBN 0816055289 (p.106-7)
  3. ^ abcdefgE. F. Bleiler, "Ewers, Hanns Heinz" in Sullivan, Jack, (ed.) The Penguin Encyclopedia of Horror and the Supernatural. (pp. 145–6). Viking, New York. 1986. ISBN 0670809020
  4. ^ abcdef"Ewers, Hanns Heinz" by Brian Stableford in David Pringle, St. James Guide to Horror, Ghost and Gothic Writers. London : St. James Press, 1998, ISBN 1558622063 (pp. 665–66).
  5. ^Verna Schuetz, The bizarre literature of Hanns Heinz Ewers, Alfred Kubin, Gustav Meyrink, and Karl Hans Strobl. (p.12) University of Wisconsin—Madison, 1974.
  6. ^Per Faxneld, Witches, Anarchism, and Evolutionism, in The Devil's Party, Chapter 3, Oxford University Press, 2013: ...from the 1910s and onwards (until at least 1925), horror author and poet Hanns Heinz Ewers (1871-1943) held wildly popular lectures with the title "Die Religion des Satan", based almost verbatim on "Die Synagoge des Satan".
  7. ^Ewers, H. H., The Heart of Kings (Jacksonville, Oregon: Ajna Offensive, 2016).

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