Published by JackLeg Press
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“a woman ahead of her time”—New York Times full page feature
I was completely seduced by the story, the recounted life, and the personality of the main character. How does Helen retain control of the central challenge of being Mann’s translator without losing herself in his overwhelming grandeur as a world-famous novelist? Jo Salas captures brilliantly the shifting depths underfoot.
–Adam Thorpe (Ulverton, The Rules of Perspective)
Set in Munich, Oxford, and Princeton, Jo Salas’s new novel Mrs. Lowe-Porter is loosely based on the life of Helen Lowe-Porter, the translator of Thomas Mann and a writer in her own right. It’s the story of a brilliant, ambitious woman’s struggle for her own voice, against convention and the demands of the two male luminaries in her life.
Helen Lowe-Porter’s translations of the great twentieth century German novelist Thomas Mann bring him acclaim from the English-speaking literary world—and the Nobel Prize. But her elegant, precise, painstaking work is overlooked by readers, ignored or criticized by reviewers. Mann himself complains about having a woman translator and pressures her to work faster. Helen swears that one day she’ll quit this servitude and finally finish her own novel.
Helen is married to the celebrated scholar Elias Lowe who claims the freedom to sleep with other women, citing his excessive “life force.” In love with her husband, Helen dreads but tolerates his romantic encounters. But when he seduces their daughter’s young friend she’s forced to reimagine her own future.