artists in exile

When the homeland becomes foreign, the foreign becomes the homeland.”

Thomas Mann on Heinrich Mann’s 70th birthday, during a gathering at Salka Viertel’s.

This text by Núria Añó is part of a longer essay titled “The Mother Tongue in Foreign Lands”. It was read at Shanghai Writers’ Association in China on September 11, 2016 and published at Wenhui Daily. Later in 2020 a biography on Jewish scriptwriter and salonnière Salka Viertel was first published in Spanish as EL SALÓN DE LOS ARTISTAS EXILIADOS EN CALIFORNIA. Then it was translated into English as THE SALON OF EXILED ARTISTS IN CALIFORNIA and into Greek as Το σαλόνι των εξόριστων καλλιτεχνών στην Καλιφόρνια.

A biography on Salka Viertel

Salka Viertel was an exiled Jewish woman well-known in Hollywood in the thirties as a specialist on Greta Garbo scripts.[1]

When she first arrived in the United States of America, her communication with the English-speaking Americans was like a silent film: she had to gesture with hands or spoke simply with the gaze, smiling and pulling a long face to be understood.

Like her, most of the European artists who emigrated to the U.S. due to the Nazism were so creative in their mother tongues that to confine themselves in America to small words in English was a constant torment.

Also she was impelled by the foreign land to learn English as an adult in order to find a job. But her mother tongue was always very close to her life as a salonnière.

Salka’s salon

On Sunday afternoons her home in California welcomed many composers, film and theater directors, actors, physicians and writers.

Salka’s salon was a place to speak with others in their native language. Her house was a shelter and a refuge for the intellectual freedom of those removed from their homeland.

Her guest of honor, the German writer Thomas Mann, who sought refuge in Switzerland before being exiled in the U.S., wrote in 1941: “When the homeland becomes foreign, the foreign becomes the homeland.”[2]


[1] Queen Christina, The Painted Veil, Anna Karenina, Maria Walewska or Two-Faced Woman.

[2] On Heinrich Mann’s 70th birthday, during a gathering at Salka Viertel’s.

Read an excerpt of “The Salon of Exiled Artists in California” by Núria Añó

If you can’t read the sample, click here.

The biography on Salka Viertel “The Salon of Exiled Artists in California” is available in these languages:

ESPAÑOL (EL SALÓN DE LOS ARTISTAS EXILIADOS EN CALIFORNIA): 2020 ISBN: 9780463996102 (eBook) 1658631633 / 9781658631631 (Paperback)

ENGLISH (THE SALON OF EXILED ARTISTS IN CALIFORNIA): 2020 ISBN: 9780463206126 (eBook) 9798647624079 (Paperback)

GREEK (To salóni ton exóriston kallitechnón stin Kalifórnia): 2020 ISBN: 9781071555637 (eBook)

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