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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

Die Tigerin

Walter Serner

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To purchase Die Tigerin

Title: Die Tigerin
Author: Walter Serner
Genre: Novel
Written: 1925
Length: 125 pages
Original in: German
Availability: The Tigress - US
La tigresse - France
Die Tigerin - Deutschland
La tigre - Italia
  • Eine absonderliche Liebesgeschichte
  • Die Tigerin appears to have been translated, by Edna McCowan, in 1991, to be published by Blast Books, but does not seem to have ever been released
  • An English translation is forthcoming from Twisted Spoon Press
  • Die Tigerin was filmed in 1992, as Tigress, directed by Karin Howard, and starring Valentina Vargas, James Remar, and George Peppard

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Our Assessment:

B : stylish slice of love and the fast life in the beginning-to-roar '20s

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
Tagesspiegel . 15/12/2000 Hellmuth Karasek

  From the Reviews:
  • "(W)ilde Kolportage im Stil des Expressionismus und des Dada, mit Sprach- und Wortschöpfungen, die französisches Argot und deutschen Rotwelsch-Slang für die hitzig-höhnischen Dialoge vermengen, um einen neuen Ausdruck zu kreieren." - Hellmuth Karasek, Tagesspiegel

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

[Note: This review is based on the original German version of the novel; all translations are mine.]

       The 'tigress' of the title is Bichette, and the nickname well-earned: three men have landed in prison on account of her, two committed suicide, and the many others she's had brief dalliances with would leap at the smallest sign from her that she was willing to be with them again. As Die Tigerin opens, however, it seems that Bichette has met her match, or possibly been tamed, by one Henri Rilcer, known as Fec.
       Fec has a similar carefree attitude. Thrown out of his parents' home at eighteen, he had lasted all of two weeks as a clerk in a lawyer's office before embezzling a small sum and disappearing, beginning his itinerant life -- 'Always elegant, almost always alone, but after he had left town, there always seemed to be some kind of scandal'. Now thirty, he's back in Paris, continuing his life: "Ins Leere hinein" ('Into the void').
       Even when he first picks up Bichette, helping her escape the attentions of an imposing Japanese admirer, it seems like just a passing fancy. But it takes. Birds of a feather, they flock together -- and soon find themselves fleeing south, to Nice. There they have ideas of a larger coup: dangling Bichette in front of those willing to do almost anything for her attentions makes for all kinds of opportunity -- but, of course, also risks Fec becoming jealous, as it's hard for him to know just how far Bichette goes in reciprocating her gentlemen-callers' interests (even as Bichette and Fec are unsure how devoted they want to be to each other). (Among the novel's best lines: Bichette admits one admirer paid her closer attention: "Das heißt, er hat mich auf der Fahrt nach Monte im Wagen geküßt und dann auch noch im Hotel. So ein bißchen. Eben so wie ein Amerikaner. Aber später nicht mehr" ('Well, he did kiss me in the car on the way to Monte and then some more at the hotel. A little bit. The way Americans do. But then not').)
       Fec sees it as:

›Es ist mein letztes Abenteuer. Mein allerletztes. Und es wird enden wie alle Abenteur. Banal und grotesk.‹
     »Wie alle Abenteur,« wiederholte er halblaut, während er die Treppe hinabstieg.

['It's my last adventure. My very last. And it will end like all adventures. Banally and grotesquely.'
     "Like all adventures" he repeated in a low voice, as he walked down the stairs.]
       Banal and grotesque: he's not wrong. Things go well; things go badly. Bichette remains flighty, and they play off each other as they did off others as well, in elaborate dances (involving for a while, as it happens, lots of late-night dancing, too). Even at the end, Bichette wonders:
Ob ich ihn geliebt habe ? Ob er mich geliebt hat ? O Gott, wenn ich das nur wüßte ! Ich glaube, ich werde noch wahnsinnig.

[Whether I loved him ? Whether he loved me ? O God, if I only knew ! I think I might wind up crazy.]
       As Gaby explained to Fec early on:
Du machst nichts aus dir. Man wird doch nicht für das gehalten, was man ist. Sondern nur für das, was man den Leuten vormacht. Und auch das, was man wirklich ist, muß man den Leuten vormachen. Wie sollen sie denn sonst wissen, wofür sie einen zu halten haben, hé ?

[You don't make anything of yourself. One isn't taken for what one is. Only for what one pretends to be. And one has to pretend to be even what one actually is. How else should people know what they're to make of you, right ?
       To go with Bichette's attitude, Serner gives her a very individual voice -- to the extent of her using made-up words and French-inflected argot: 'Fec, you are -- duschnock', she suggests, or, as she often exclaims: 'Schlingue'.
       Die Tigerin is very much about attitude -- the shrug of: "Eh ben" --, the two lovers pulled between pose and passion. They've been so casually adrift for so long that they find it difficult to actually grab hold of anyone for longer -- or even conceive of doing so.
       It's a stylish tale of the times and two seductive drifters and grifters, kindred spirits who are so used to going their own way that even as each sees the other as obvious complement they can't quite manage or believe it -- an unusual ('absonderliche') love story indeed.

- M.A.Orthofer, 10 November 2023

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Die Tigerin: Reviews: Tigress - the movie: Walter Serner: Other books by Walter Serner under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       German-writing author Walter Serner lived 1889 to 1942.

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© 2023 the complete review

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