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Weirauch, Anna Elisabet (1887-1970)  

Anna Elisabet Weirauch is best remembered for her three-volume lesbian novel Der Skorpion (The Scorpion) set during the Weimar Republic.

Born in Galatz, Rumania, Weirauch was moved, along with her sister, by her mother to Germany upon their father's death in 1891. By the turn of the century, they were living in Berlin, where Anna Elisabet studied acting. From 1906 to 1914, she was a member of Max Reinhardt's prestigious ensemble at the Deutsches Theater.

Although she had written plays, she discovered after the war that her real talent lay in writing prose. Clearly, she had been writing for some time already since four novels and three novellas all appeared in 1919, the beginning of her long career. One of these was the first volume of Der Skorpion (The Scorpion), the work for which Weirauch is remembered today.

This three-volume lesbian Entwicklungsroman (a novel that traces the development of its main character from childhood into young adulthood) follows Mette Rudloff from her troubled childhood, in search of love and of answers about her "different" sexuality, to her acceptance of her nature and the possibility that she can now find the love she has sought.

The first volume portrays her from childhood through her early twenties. Olga, the first woman she loves, succumbs to the view of homosexual love as decadent and futile. After breaking off their relationship, she commits suicide. Mette's family hires a psychiatrist to "cure" her, but Mette refuses to accept a medical view of lesbians as aberrant and diseased.

Over the course of the next two volumes, Mette experiences the lesbian and homosexual subcultures, mostly in Berlin, but never finds a home there. Each woman with whom she falls in love proves flawed, or scarred, by the outcast status of lesbians (and bisexuals) within this culture.

Alcohol and drug use, promiscuity and psychological role-playing characterize the lives of most of the women she meets in Berlin's lesbian underground.

By the end of the third novel, Mette has discarded the false choices of the metropolis--heterosexuality, suicide, "decadent" lesbianism--as being contrary to her nature. Having moved to the country, she learns to live alone and to accept herself. There, she realizes, she is ready to share her future with another woman.

This work stands out from the multitude of fiction depicting lesbian or homosexual characters during the Weimar Republic. It does not apply a medical theory to the origin and appearance of same-sex love, nor does Weirauch deem it necessary to supply "scientific" evidence to defend her characters. These aspects explain the enormous resonance of this work.

The first edition of the initial volume quickly sold out. Readers, especially lesbians, praised the novel's sympathetic and true-to-life depictions of lesbian characters. They begged Weirauch to tell more of Mette's story, a request she gladly granted. The novels have been translated into several languages. In English alone, they have had seven editions in various forms.

Weirauch was gifted with a talent for writing prose and plots that afforded easy accessibility to and strong identification with readers. Her career spanned some of the most politically turbulent years in German history. Yet that reality makes only brief appearances in her stories.

Much among her oeuvre can perhaps justly be labeled "trivial," but her trilogy Der Skorpion has found a secure place within the canon of literature that depicts homosexual characters with veracity and skill.

James W. Jones


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literature >> Overview:  German and Austrian Literature: Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries

With major periodic setbacks, over the last two centuries German-speaking authors have gradually developed a gay and lesbian positive literature.


Foster, Jeannette H. Sex Variant Women in Literature. Tallahassee, Fla.: Naiad Press, 1985.

Katz, Jonathan. Gay/Lesbian Almanac. New York: Harper and Row, 1983.

Schoppmann, Claudia. Der Roman 'Der Skorpion' von Anna Elisabet Weirauch. Berlin: Frühlings Erwachen, 1986.


    Citation Information
    Author: Jones, James W.  
    Entry Title: Weirauch, Anna Elisabet  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2002  
    Date Last Updated November 23, 2002  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 1995, 2002 New England Publishing Associates  


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