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Ewers, Hanns Heinz

(1871-1943) German author, spy in Mexico and the USA in World War One, and early member of the Nazi Party, though he soon alienated its leaders through his insistence that his and their obsession with matters of Blood led inevitably (and properly) to psychic and literal vampirism (see Decadence; Vampires). Supermen predominate in his fiction, much of which remains untranslated. He is noted mainly for a series of novels about Frank Braun – anthropologist and Ubermensch – some of which are sf. The young Braun, hero of Der Zauberlehrling oder die Teufelsjäger (1907; trans Ludwig Lewisohn as The Sorcerer's Apprentice 1927), hypnotizes his "inferior" Italian mistress into a spurious sainthood – complete with stigmata – which in the end he makes real by helping crucify her. In Alraune (1911; cut trans S Guy Endore 1929; full trans Joe E Bandel 2010), which was filmed five times 1918-1952 (see Alraune), Braun uses artificial insemination to breed from the dregs of society – by impregnating a whore with the semen of an executed criminal – the eponymous soulless female whose name reflects in German her likeness to a mandrake root, and whose vampirical powers prove almost fatal to the Ubermensch experimenter (see Frankenstein Monster). In Vampir (1921; trans Fritz Sallagher as Vampire 1934; vt Vampire's Prey 1937) Braun appears as a macabre alter ego of the author, spying in Mexico during World War One – which Ewers depicts in sado-erotic terms as an ecstatic transport of civilization – while at the same time becoming a Vampire as part of a world-transformative blood rite. Ewers is in fact a central figure in the history of Horror. [JC]

Hanns Heinz Ewers

born Dusseldorf, Germany: 3 November 1871

died Berlin: 12 June 1943

works (selected)


Frank Braun

individual titles



Entry from The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (2011-current) edited by John Clute and David Langford.
Accessed 01:53 am on 3 July 2022.