Dark Dominion is Marianne Hauser’s first English language novel, published in 1947 by Random House. She had been living in the United States for about ten years. It was described at the time as a Gothic novel. It is a novel of hallucination, memory and dreams, about a Swiss woman who comes to America and marries her psychiatrist. Narrated by her brother, who hopes to persuade her to return to Switzerland, it is indeed dark and perverse, a witty satire of psychoanalysis, and a serious meditation on the perils of repressed desire and illusion. It received mixed reviews at the time.

Hauser wrote Dark Dominion at the suggestion of her editor and friend Coby Gilman, a brilliant, erudite alcoholic who was legendary in 1930’s literary circles. He is now only known through the diaries and letters of his close friend, Dawn Powell. She wrote it mostly while traveling with her husband, Fred Kirchberger, through the American south, where he was stationed during World War 2 as a German language specialist. Kirchberger fled Germany in 1938 when he was unable to perform a recital in Berlin, due to his mother being Jewish. Hauser wrote articles, book reviews and short stories, and lectured to church groups about the rise of Hitler and threat of fascism. Her son, Michael Kirchberger, was born in 1945. Marguerite Young, author of Miss Macintosh My Darling and a number of other works, was his godmother. At this time she also met Ruth Stephan, Mari Sandoz and Anais Nin, all of whom were in New York from the late thirties or early forties.

Dark Dominion Author Photo
Dark Dominion Author Photo

Published by

Jon Frankel

This website is dedicated to the life and career of novelist Marianne Hauser (1910-2006). Marianne Hauser wrote 9 novels, and dozens of short stories. Her first novel, Monique, was published in German when she was 22 and living in Paris. Her last novel, Shootout with Father, was published by FC2 in 2002, when she was 91. She moved to New York in 1937 after traveling through Asia and North Africa alone, as a reporter. Only three of her works remain in print today: The Talking Room, her best known work, a brilliant, subversive and hilarious novel about a pregnant 13 year old being raised by warring lesbian parents, published by the Fiction Collective in 1976, Shootout with Father, and The Collected Short Fiction of Marianne Hauser (2004). These books are available from FC2. Her other American books, Dark Dominion (1947), The Choir Invisible (1958), Prince Ishmael (1963), A Lesson in Music (1964), The Late Memoirs of Mr. Ashley (1986), and Me & My Mom (1993), are out of print but easy to find used and in libraries.
This is a collaborative project. Its purpose is to promote her work and make available to interested readers as much information as I can unearth about her. In Hauser’s long life she made many professional and personal friends. Her agent was Perry Knowlton and her first book was published by Bennett Cerf six years after she took him to task over Gertrude Stein in her New York Times review of Ida. In 1963 Prince Ishmael was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, and was a New York Times notable book of the year. From the 1970s through to 2004 her writing was published and reviewed by different incarnations of the Fiction Collective and Sun & Moon Press. She wrote reviews for the American Book Review and appeared in journals like Fiction International, Blatant Artifice, Witness.
If you knew her or are studying her work I welcome contributions, memoirs, interviews, letters, analyses, what have you. Since at least the seventies writers have lamented that she is not better known. Many people have tried to bring her greater recognition: Alice S. Morris, Anais Nin, Marguerite Young, the writers at the Fiction Collective, Larry McCaffery, Sinda Gregory, Douglas Messerli, Margot Mifflin, Ed Cardoni, and Professor Andrea L. Harris, among others. Just about everyone who has written about her has wondered why her work is neglected. Hauser cared little for self-promotion and was impatient with compromise. She was an anti-authoritarian enchantress, intelligent, intuitive, playful, and genuine. She wrote every day on a small manual Olivetti typewriter and tirelessly revised. She was passionate about politics and art. Friends called her Bear. Her final work, Little Buttercup, written for her granddaughter, is subtitled, the happiest bear in the world.

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