The daily update from the world of literature. Today: Dana, winner of the Prize, wants to break a lance for young people’s books. One thing has been with them for many years.
October 17th, morning update: “Female friendships are complicated”
Which book changed you? This is what the “Books for Life” video series is all about. In it, writers, intellectuals and other exciting people tell about a book that has left their mark on them and what memories they associate with it.
The writer Dana provides the proof: Even books with ugly covers can be fondly remembered. And that even for years: for “Books for Life”, the author , who was nominated for the Bachmann Prize and awarded the Prize, chooses a novel for young people that she keeps thinking about.
October 16, morning update: Ben opens up to Gery
She never stood in the “centre” of Ben’s life , Gery knew that early on. From winter 1921 to autumn 1922 she and the poet were a couple. After that, they managed the feat of remaining inclined to one another until Benn’s death. Ben was the analyst , she the generous, clever (studied and doctoral degree) and warm-hearted, pecuniary clammy like himself, without any writing ambitions – how extremely pleasant! He opens up to her in mocking notes and “big” letters, private, political, autobiographical, and as seldom sympathetic as he asks about her adventurous life.
The volume begins with 29 partly tempting, partly rabid Benn letters full of humour, full of sadness. “Don’t bathe too long!” He warns, followed by depressing insights: “The whole of life for each individual is economic galleys.” He describes his intellectual “situation” as “completely decentralized”, “one pukes at oneself”.
He explains in detail how he stood up for Hitler, only to withdraw into silence. Gertrud saves the bundle despite countless moves. After the war she sent 60 care packages from the USA, plus many letters, to which he replied gratefully and informatively. He declares September 6th to be “Trudchentag”, but texts like Edition are worth a glass every day. Gisela Trahms
October 15th, lunchtime update: Stefan on his overwhelming encounter with Peter
I know, I know. When you talk about Peter these days , the first thing that inevitably comes up is this dreary controversy about Serbia , an outburst of anger that Pete knows only too well. Which is why there was some contradiction when the Nobel Prize was later awarded . Why he accepted this price, in contrast to several others, which he categorically rejected or even paid back, remains uncertain. So I’m not going to mention any of this here, but rather limit myself to the nice surprise moments that he always has ready for his friends.
This was the case with the very first documentary film that we shot with him. Fee as was customary at the time: 1000 DM. Which, however, inevitably had to be plastered in the most expensive bar in Paris, the “Lasserre”. At the time he was living at the Porte d’Auteuil in Paris, poorly furnished and not a great area. Peter says aphoristically: “The interior of today’s human corresponds exactly to the impotent geometry of such places.” Then the way to school with the six-year-old daughter Amina. Thereby unmistakable love and tenderness.
Amina’s mother, the Austrian actress (he will only ever live with actresses), has already separated from him. Later, alone in the apartment, he complains that female admirers run into him: “I don’t understand what they want. Only yesterday another one who lugged her suitcase straight away and set up the toothbrush in the bathroom. Of course I expelled her. ”“ I’m an impossible father ”, he announces next, while he cooks for her and helps her with her homework.
In the back room posters from his play “The ride across Lake Constance”, with her. My question about the well-known liaison with her immediately turned off: “What do you actually call a liaison? Define that. ”And:“ In the long run none of them can stand me. ”This irresistible willingness to confess! “I only have one topic: How to keep yourself open to life, how to stay accessible to fresh experiences.”
The actress Marie Colbin, with whom he lives in Salzburg for a while, will soon be one of these fresh experiences. Then back to France, in the suburb of Chaville near Paris, now with the French actress Sophie Semin. In turn, she said goodbye: “To live with Handke you would have to own a lock with two wings. But you don’t have a castle. ”He then lived with the actress Katja Flint in Chaville for five years. When I visit him there once, however, he is already alone again. Show me his new novel , “Don Juan”.
Then a dialogue on a café terrace on the left bank of the Seine: “Peter, there is this peculiar sentence in the book: ‘It seemed that she alone was at work, and this work is the best that this world has to offer.’ Pretty romantic for our time. And not very feminist. ”-“ But that’s how it is: You as ruler in the realm of love. In the film, too, one usually only shows the woman, her face in the moment of surrender. That goes from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego. What happens at the same time in men is mythologically uninteresting. ”
Question: “Are you now talking about myth or your own experience?” In addition, Handke disparagingly: “Oh, my experiences … I only have a few fragments of a clue.” – “Why? You are considered to be a man who has loved often and in many ways? ”Handke raises three fingers on his hand, smiling modestly. Then a fourth hesitantly. End of the interview. As almost always with Peter Handke, I am overwhelmed by his humanity after every meeting, but otherwise not much smarter than before.
Georg Stefan Troller , writer and documentary filmmaker, born in Vienna in 1921 as a Jew, met all the great minds of the twentieth century. How was it? Ask him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
October 14, morning update: The weak point in the system
Some people are like viruses. You come somewhere. And then they ignite a family, a village, a country. Then the fever starts. Bertil Kras is such a person. Henning Mankell (1948–2015) invented it long before it became Henning Mankell. So Kurt Wallander’s Mankell.
Bertil Kras appears in the dream of the narrator of “The Crazy”. Mankell’s third novel is only now being published in German; the original was published in 1977 – twelve years before the moralist and philanthropist Mankell opened his police station in Ystad, in which the fate of murderers was negotiated, who, like viruses, exposed weak points in Sweden’s social immune system.
Bertil Kras comes from Stockholm to a town in the north. There is a sawmill there. And a festering wound in the forest. A silent place. Bertil Kras is a communist. When he hires at the sawmill, the war is just over, but it’s still raging in people’s minds and souls. In the forest was once the camp in which Sweden’s Nazi government had put communists.
Bertil wants to remember it. People don’t want that. Then the sawmill burns. And the village. Bertil is a Mankell model hero. Lonely and lost in the struggle against the indifferent society. And “The Crazy” is a novel – built close to pathos – before the purification cures to which Mankell subjected his writing and without which he would never have become world famous. Elmar Krekeler
October 13, noon update: How Hitler cemented his power
As they say, Uwe Wittstock did not invent the powder. In his first book ever, in which the name Marcel Reich-Ranicki does not even appear, he also makes use of a narrative method that, introduced by Florian Illies and continued by Oliver Hilmes, is now enjoying great popularity: the synchronous-minimalist Representation of a short historical section. It’s not a year like Illies, it’s not an Olympic week like Hilmes.
Rather, it is about the thirty days that Adolf Hitler needed after January 30, 1933 to establish and cement his unrestricted rule. These days are tough, especially if you look in detail at what they brought with them to the literary world of that time in Germany and its inhabitants: hardship and death; Despair, insecurity, betrayal. A lot of the familiar comes up here.
But Wittstock also carries out deep drilling. For example when he reports how Gabriele Tergit and her husband managed to protect themselves from an attack by the SA on March 4th. Or tells in detail how miserably the Prussian Academy of the Arts abolished itself. Whether Benn, who played such an inglorious role, really acted out of material interests remains to be seen. Overall suitable as a manual, not particularly inspired written. Tilman Krause
October 12, noon update: The problem with Sally Rooney’s Israel boycott
Boycott takes many forms. A particularly large number of people know the boycott of Israel. One of the most perfidious of these is the cultural one . Irish bestselling author Sally Rooney is now using it. While the 30-year-old had her first two books, “Conversations with Friends” and “Normal People”, which were hard to beat in terms of international success, translated into 46 languages, including Hebrew, she changed her strategy for her latest publication.
“Schöne Welt, where are you”, which immediately shot to number 1 on the “New York Times” bestseller list at the beginning of September, should not find any Hebrew-speaking readers. Rooney’s agent Tracy Bohan had this communicated to the Israeli publisher Modan, which had already translated Rooney’s first books and was now requesting the publication of the third. As the newspaper “Haaretz” reports, Rooney cites her support for the cultural boycott of Israel as a justification, a goal also pursued by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Some supporters of BDS question Israel’s right to exist, the German Bundestag has declared that events in which BDS sympathizers also take part should be excluded from public funding.
Rooney’s move shouldn’t come as a surprise. The author signed a letter of defense in the “London Review of Books” for the British author Kamila Shamsie as early as 2019, after the initially awarded Dortmund Nelly Sachs Prize was withdrawn due to her support by BDS. Shortly after the armed conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas that summer, Rooney was one of a thousand first to sign a letter of indictment accusing the Israeli state of a system of apartheid and calling for it to cut its economic and cultural ties with Israel.
Rooney’s books, which, as manifestations of a millennial sentiment, can be located somewhere between political class consciousness, personal vulnerability and self-reflective kitsch, reveal sympathies for their protagonists’ criticism of Israeli politics that hardly contradict their current actions. In her debut, she lets two friends consider whether Israel is “nicer” than Palestine, and they find out that niceness is wrongly declared the yardstick where power is actually at stake.
In her novel “Normal People”, Rooney anticipates an accusation that could now be directed against her: There the protagonist, with whom her author very openly sympathizes, is accused of being interested in the Middle East conflict just to get it to attract attention at parties. Her friend, who knows her well, thinks this is an absurd interpretation.
Rooney’s signal is depressing because the hyped author, who was nominated for the renowned Man Booker Prize in 2018 and whose novel “Normal People” was turned into a hit series, is seen as a role model for many young readers. Rooney is not the first to use this form of boycott by depriving her of her talents. The aforementioned Pakistani-British author Kamila Shamsie, the American Alice Walker, the British China Mieville, to name just a few, also prevented their books from being translated into Hebrew. The boycott of a language seems particularly unfair – after all, it is directed against the people instead of the institutions, and it also affects all those who read Hebrew who live outside of Israel, for example.
Even if Rooney is not primarily concerned with ostracizing a language, but rather disregarding an Israeli publisher – the fact that it coincides with the Hebrew language is not only unfavorable, it is brutal. Wouldn’t it have been possible, at least as a sign against anti-Semitism, to have the novel translated into Hebrew without a publisher or with an international publisher and then, for example as an e-paper, to make it freely accessible to its readers? Wouldn’t a publication have been much more conducive to intercultural dialogue and artistic aspirations – especially in view of the fact that the characters in Rooney’s books deal critically with topics that are clearly important to Rooney.
As much as a journalist is inclined to avoid comparisons with National Socialism wherever possible, burning books by Jewish authors differs only in degrees from refusing to publish books by Israeli authors abroad. According to “Haaretz”, this is the case with increasing frequency. Withholding one’s own art from Israeli readers ultimately appears to be an even more arrogant twist.
In addition, there is perhaps not much else to sigh than “Beautiful world, where are you?”, A title that Rooney stole from Schiller’s “The Gods of Greece”. Rooney prefers another author, Natalia Ginzburgs, to her novel: “When I write something, I usually think that it is very important and that I am a very great writer.” Whether Rooney is a very great writer is an open question . She is certainly not a very great person with this action. Marie-Luise Goldmann