Alfred Döblin's novella Das Stiftsfräulein und der Tod (The canoness and death) was the first book that Ernst Ludwig Kirchner illustrated. The novella had originally appeared in a 1913 collection of Döblin's tales titled Die Ermordung einer Butterblume und andere Erzählungen (The murder of a buttercup and other stories). Later that year, Alfred R. Meyer in Berlin published Kirchner's illustrated version as part of his Lyrische Flugblätter (Lyrical leaflets) series, which featured short stories and poems by young writers.
Döblin's novella relates the fears and desires of a dying "old maid" in a monastery's retirement home. Kirchner's woodcuts illustrate key scenes from the story. The dramatic lines and angular forms of the images enhance the expressive force of Döblin's narrative.
Kirchner had met Döblin in Berlin in 1912 through Herwarth Walden, the publisher of the avantgarde periodical Der Sturm (The tempest). Döblin was a psychiatrist by profession but would go on to become one of the most successful writers of the Weimar Republic, best known for his 1929 novel Berlin Alexanderplatz.
Publication excerpt from Iris Schmeisser, German Expressionist Digital Archive Project, German Expressionism: Works from the Collection. 2011.