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The Diary of a Lost Girl was first published in Germany in 1905 under the title Tagebuch einer Verlorenen. By the end of the Twenties, it had been translated into 14 languages, published around the world, and sold more than 1,200,000 copies. It is counted among the best-selling books of its time.

Today, however, it is little known.

Was it, as was claimed, the real-life diary of a young woman forced by circumstance into a life of prostitution? A veiled feminist critique of the treatment of women? Or a sensational and clever fake, one of the first novels of its kind? Debate swirled around its authorship for years.

Described by one contemporary scholar as “Perhaps the most notorious and certainly the commercially most successful autobiographical narrative of the early twentieth century,” the book was nothing less than a literary phenomenon. The New York Times described it as "shocking." A newspaper in New Zealand called it "The saddest of modern books."

Widely discussed, it was written about by critic Walter Benjamin, by the followers of Freud, and by novelist Henry Miller (who claimed it a favorite). Bram Stoker, the author of Dracula, thought it should be banned. Censored in some countries, the book was barred entry into others. Eventually, after more than 25 years of acclaim and criticism, as well as controversy over its true authorship, the book was driven out of print in the early days of Nazi Germany.

This contested book – a work of unusual historical significance and literary sophistication – inspired not only a cult following but also a sequel, a play, a parody, a genre's worth of imitators, and two silent movies. The best remembered of these is Diary of a Lost Girl (1929), the G.W. Pabst film starring screen legend Louise Brooks.

This new edition, featuring the original English language translation, brings a notable work back into print after more than a century. The "Louise Brooks Edition" includes some three dozen illustrations, numerous annotations, and an essay by Thomas Gladysz, Director of the Louise Brooks Society, detailing the book's remarkable history and relationship to the acclaimed 1929 silent film.

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The bestselling book
that shocked a nation
a literary mystery, a feminist classic.


 

The Diary of a Lost Girl is available at select bookshops and museums in the United States,
and online through Lulu.com and Amazon.com.
Praise for the new edition of THE DIARY OF A LOST GIRL:

"Long relegated to the shadows, Margarete Böhme's 1905 novel, The Diary of a Lost Girl has at last made a triumphant return. In reissuing the rare 1907 English translation of Böhme's German text, Thomas Gladysz makes an important contribution to film history, literature, and, in as much as Böhme told her tale with much detail and background contemporary to the day, sociology and history. He gives us the original novel, his informative introduction, and many beautiful and rare illustrations. This reissue is long overdue, and in all ways it is a volume of uncommon merit." Richard Buller, author of A Beautiful Fairy Tale: The Life of Actress Lois Moran

"Gladysz provides an authoritative series of essays that tell us about the author, the notoriety of her work (which was first published in 1905), and its translation to the screen. Production stills, advertisements, and other ephemera illustrate these introductory chapters. In today’s parlance this would be called a 'movie tie-in edition,' but that seems a rather glib way to describe yet another privately published work that reveals an enormous amount of research — and passion." Leonard Maltin

"Read today, it's a fascinating time-trip back to another age, and yet remains compelling. As a bonus, Gladysz richly illustrates the text with stills of Brooks from the famous film." Jack Garner, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

"Most certainly a book for all you Louise Brooks fans out there! And silent cinema fans in general as well." Bristol Silents (UK)

"It was such a pleasure to come upon your well documented and beautifully presented edition." Elizabeth Boa, University of Nottingham (UK)

"Historian Thomas Gladysz has done the silent film community an interesting service: He has made available the original English translation of Margaret Bohme's novel, The Diary of a Lost Girl. To fans of the beautiful actress Louise Brooks, this is a significant contribution indeed. The novel would go on to become the basis of Louise's torrid 1929 German film, which was directed by G.W. Pabst. What makes this new book so appealing is the way in which Mr. Gladysz has presented the vintage material. Featuring a scholarly introduction and numerous, wonderfully reproduced stills and rare advertisements, it is a pleasure to behold. It is also obviously a labor of love." Lon Davis, author of Silent Lives


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