«Schwarzenbach has resisted with her existence alone»
Anna Rosenwasser is a political influencer, author, journalist – and recently a member of the National Council. In the series Literature and Music, the queer activist introduces us to Annemarie Schwarzenbach's literature.
Anna Rosenwasser, what do you think of when you hear the name Annemarie Schwarzenbach?
About how she defied the gender norms of her time. My friends and I would call her Tomboy from today's perspective. The first thing I think of is that she was the twenties version of a tomboy.
What do her texts mean to you personally?
«Seeing a Woman« caught me at a time when I was in my own inner coming out. The text was not an «aha!» experience for me, but more gentle: an «...ah.» experience.
In your view, is «Seeing a Woman» timeless?
I don't believe that literary texts can or should be timeless; I find it either necessary or beautiful to place them in their context. It wouldn't do Schwarzenbach justice to read her texts as timeless; I want to acknowledge that as a woman, as a lesbian, as a journalist and as an author in her time, she achieved a form of resistance with her very existence.
Annemarie Schwarzenbach was active as a journalist as well as a writer and was politically committed; today she is celebrated as an icon. A bit like you?
Oh. I haven't dared to compare myself to her yet. Perhaps one thing we have in common is that we both have privileges: Schwarzenbach was born into status and wealth, that was her privilege. Mine is to pass as an acceptable queer woman in public, because – unlike Schwarzenbach – I meet the visual demands of a woman, among other things.
Do you have role models?
Yes, I have role models, and I don't believe anyone who says they don't need any. At readings by Carolin Emcke and Margarete Stokowski I realised that I want to, can and may write my own book. And in conversations with my friends and allies I am allowed to see and feel every day what is possible.
Are you interested in Annemarie Schwarzenbach's biography or is it her literary work? Do you separate life and work?
To be honest, no, I don't separate them. Hype likes to mix things up. That's probably the tricky thing about celebrating a person from a historical distance: there's a danger of becoming undifferentiated. Sometimes I'm afraid that I'll miss out on critical aspects of Schwarzenbach, ignore them in order to continue celebrating her.
In her 34 years of life, Schwarzenbach wrote a novel in addition to a doctoral thesis, 300 texts were published during her lifetime, she left behind impressive reportage photographs. What would you have liked to have discovered as an estate from an older Annemarie Schwarzenbach?