I’m doing an Elif Batuman on you.  She made me remember my student days and all those lovely German books that  I read during them and still contine to read – in the most literary of places.  

Reading Goethe  in Frankfurt am Main …..

Reading Goethe in Frankfurt

or Fontane in Berlin ….

Reading Fontane

I dream of future reading adventures: reading Koeppen in Munich, Lessing in Leipzig, Schiller and some more Goethe in Weimar. I would also love read Kleist in Frankfurt an der Oder this year – it’s the 200th anniversary of his death. But real life is too unpredictable to be planning a jaunt to Germany.  However, here’s a call to my continental German literature readers, why don’t you send me pictures of you doing just that? What about reading the Brothers Grimm in Hanau, Boell in Cologne, Julia Franck in Berlin, Jenny Erpenbeck in Brandenburg? Moving to Austria: Schnitzler, Hoffmansthal, Roth in Vienna, Zweig in Salzburg. I don’t know a lot about Switzerland, but here’s you chance to educate me.  I can take a virtual tour and maybe we can create a literary flickr stream. Would anyone like to take on Kafka in Prague?

In the meantime, I shall content myself with reading some recently acquired German fiction that now lodges bei mir (chez moi). All of these have inveigled their way into Lizzy’s Library since the beginning of 2011 (and I am surprised at how many there are, I haven’t been consciously collecting.).  I intend reading most by the end of  the year.  While I do, perhaps I should rename the blog, Lizzys Literarisches Leben. Cue book stack photos and a flying tour of 3 centuries of German (and Austrian) literature.  Book stacks are described from bottom to top.

From the 18th and 19th centuries

Selected Writings from Kleist, a German romantic, who died 200 years ago in a suicide pact at the tender age of 34. This anthology contains a selection of plays, novellas and anecdotes, spanning his short but productive literary career.

On Tangled Paths / Irretrievable – Theodor Fontane In the time line, Fontane sits between Goethe (C18th) and Thomas Mann (C20th). Fontane is a proponent of German realism and a firm advocate of seeing an issue from both sides.  He is the author of my favourite German novel, Effi Briest, and I can only say that I’m delighted that other works are now available in English!  Angel Classics have recently commissioned two new translations: On Tangled Paths and No Way Back. The latter is Irretrievable by another name. The NYRB edition is the celebrated 1964 translation by Douglas Parmée. When making by purchases, I opted to mix and match to support both publishers!

From the 20th Century

Mary Stuart  – Stefan Zweig   How excited was I when this beauty popped through the mailbox?  Inordinately.  In fact, I was ecstatic!  This is the book that launched my love affair with Zweig, 22 years ago. I first read his biography of Mary, Queen of Scots, in German, in the months leading up to my moving to Scotland. It seemed to be the perfect bridge from one home to the next.   I still have my battered German copy which I lend to German friends when they visit. The English translation has been out of print for years. So now I can recommend this to all my English speaking friends too … starting right here, right now!

The Governess and Other Stories – Stefan Zweig. More novellas. As I’ve said before, as long as Pushkin Press keep publishing, I’ll keep reading and reviewing.  With a page count of 236, this volume has a more satisfying word count:pound ration than previously published volumes.

Selected Poems – Rilke. A bilingual edition kindly sent by Oxford University Press. Amazingly I never studied Rilke at university and, as I slowly make my way through this anthology, I’m actually beginning to feel cheated. This is amazing as I never read poetry. I am relishing reading in German again and comparing my poorly crafted translations to those published here.

Georg Letham: Physician and Murderer – Ernst Weiss. On the BTBA shortlist, this is my current read. I am enjoying it immensely but it is very intense, so I’m reading it in short sharp bursts.

21st century- Part 1
 
Love Virtually – Daniel Glattauer  An epistolary novel for the 21st century.  Snail mail has been replaced by email in this modern love affair.  I need to get to this sooner rather than later as there’s a follow-up to be published in the autumn.
 
Crime – Ferdinand von Schirach  Short stories based on real crimes.  Von Schirach is a criminal lawyer so I’ve no doubt there will be some interesting angles in this collection, hopefully in the vein of the understated,  metaphorical cover (my favourite of the year to date).
 
Next World Novella – Matthias Politycki  Pereine #4 – no need to say more.  I know this will be good.
 
Eagles and Angels Juli Zeh  At last, a female author!   I enjoyed Dark Matter so much that I rushed out to buy a copy of Zeh’s debut.
 
20th century – part 2

Contrary to my husband’s belief, I’m not auto-tuned to the latest publications translated from German!  I have helpers …  There’s no way I can get  through this post without mentioning Love German Books, a one stop Germanophile’s guide to the latest in German publishing, whose influence is obvious in this pile.

This is Not a Love Song – Karen Duve  A recommendation from Love German Books about a woman with body complexes who writes:  “When I was seven I swore I’d never fall in love.  When I was eighteen I fell in love anyway.  It was just as bad as I had feared.”   I think I’ll read this, once I’ve finished the Letham.  I’ll be needing some light relief.

Learning to Scream Beate Teresa Hanika   Katy Derbyshire of Love German Books is a translator and now her work is appearing in Britain.   This is a young adult title, translated by a favourite blogger with a character named Lizzy.  And it was shortlisted for the German Children’s Book Prize.  What’s not to love?

Ich werde ein Berliner (How to be a really hip German) Wash Echte  What’s this?  A book in German!  Stranger still, it’s a book translated into German from pieces written in English on the blog www.ichwerdeeinberliner.com. There are no plans to publish the book in English.  It’s a strange world but life can be like that when you are an ex-pat trying to blend in wiz ze Germans.

The Sinner  – Petra Hammesfahr.  A psychological thriller, spotted and bought in a flurry after this fabulous review from Fleur Fisher.

This has turned into rather a long post but, if you’re still with me, perhaps I can tempt you to pick up a title and read along?  Also I wanted to make it clear to myself that there is absolutely no reason to give into temptation and  buy any of the forthcoming titles highlighted in the spring edition of New Books In German.    No reason whatsoever until I’ve read at least ten, eight, six titles featured in this post ……

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