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Talk: Reading Claudius

Date: 08 September 2016 11:30 AM - 12:30 PM, Venue: Library of Congress

Author Caroline Heller, professor at Lesley University in Cambridge, MA, will read from and give a talk on her book "Reading Claudius" at the Library of Congress, in Dining Room A on Sept. 8, at 11:30 am. The book is set in Prague and based on her family history before, during, and after WWII.

Reading Claudius: A Memoir in Two Parts focuses on Caroline’s parents and uncle in pre-WWII Prague. Her (one day to be) mother, Liese Florsheim, had graduated from the Gymnasium in Frankfurt Germany in 1933 and as a Jew was not allowed to proceed to higher education there. She wanted to be a doctor and her parents sent her to the young democracy Czechoslovakia to pursue her training. There, she fell in love with a young writer named Erich Heller (who later became a well-known literary critic in England and the US), while Erich’s younger brother, Paul Heller, fell in love with her. This combustible life-long triangle is the vortex of the book, but the war and the years leading up to it is the real foundation. It aims to present the intellectual/political/literary cafe culture of pre-war central Europe, all the hope that lived in that vibrant culture, and the horrors that would ultimately destroy it. Caroline’s future mother and future uncle managed to get out of Prague before Hitler took over, but her future father, Paul, was arrested the night of August 31, 1939, in the first public round-up of political dissidents in Prague. He survived six years in Buchenwald and Auschwitz, and was the young doctor who escorted the journalist Edward R. Murrow around Buchenwald, leading to the first broadcast from within the walls of a concentration camp.   

Event Details:

Date: September 8, 11:30 am - 12:30 pm

Location: Library of Congress
James Madison Memorial Building
Dining Room A (LM 619), Sixth floor
101 Independence Ave, SE
Washington, DC 20540


RSVP is not required.