Transit (Seghers novel)

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Transit is a novel set in 1942, by Anna Seghers.[1][2]

Plot summary[edit]

The novel takes place in France after the German invasion. The twenty-seven year old unnamed narrator has escaped from a Nazi concentration camp. Along the way to Marseilles, he meets one of his friends, Paul. Paul then asks the narrator to deliver a letter to a writer named Weidel in Paris. When the narrator goes to deliver the letter, he finds out that Weidel has committed suicide. The narrator also finds that Weidel left behind a suitcase full of letters and an unfinished manuscript for a novel.

Arriving in Marseilles, the narrator describes the chaos of a town full of people desperate to escape the Nazis. Most of his time is spent in cafes seeing the same people, with ever limited amounts of food and alcohol on sale. A mystery woman who haunts the cafes is Weidel's estranged wife, desperate for his help to leave France. She doesn't know Weidel is dead. The narrator is in love with her and tries to arrange matters so she can leave with him, without her knowing that he has assumed Weidel's identity (and Mexican visa). Throughout the story, the narrator converses with several other refugees, sharing stories and experiences along the way.[3] The story draws on Seghers' own experience in wartime France.[4]

Film adaptation[edit]

In 2018, German director Christian Petzold adapted the novel into the film of the same name which transposes the novel's plot to the twenty-first century.[5]


Transit. Translated James Austin Galston. Little, Brown. 1944.CS1 maint: others (link)