It’s that time of year again – as Europe, Asia and North America slip slowly towards winter (and we in Australia get ready for blistering sunshine…), our tiny corner of the literary blogosphere turns all Teutonic for November and German Literature Month. Yes, thanks to Lizzy and Caroline, the penultimate month of the year is all German (-language), and as always I’ll be looking to fill the month with ten or so posts, and possibly a virtual excursion too (although they haven’t always gone very well in the past…). Before we get underway, though, I thought I might reveal some of the books I’m considering reading for this year’s event. Who knows – I might even be able to persuade a few people to join me 🙂
I always enjoy reading an old book or two, so let’s start off with the classics. Theodor Fontane has been a favourite ever since the GLM I Effi Briest readalong, so I’m thinking of trying another of his this year, possibly Die Poggenpuhls (The Poggenpuhls). Then there’s Robert Musil, a writer whose work I’ve yet to sample. Perhaps I’ll take a look at Die Verwirrungen des Zöglings Törleß (The Confusions of Young Torless), in preparation for an eventual attempt at his lengthy masterpiece Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften (The Man without Characteristics). However, one book I’m determined to fit in this time around is Rainer Maria Rilke’s Die Aufzeichnungen des Malte Laurids Brigge (The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge). While Rilke is better known for his poetry, he did write this novel, in diary form, and I’ve heard that it’s a very good one.
While there are lots of classics available free for my Kindle, I can’t get too carried away as there are plenty of books which have been lying around in my study for far too long now (in fact, some have already appeared in several GLM idea posts over the past few years!). One of these is Robert Walser’s Jakob von Gunten, and Hans Keilson’s Das Leben geht weiter (Life Goes On) has been waiting patiently for a good while too. However, pride of place in this hall of shame would have to go to F.C. Delius’ Deutscher Herbst (German Autumn) trilogy of novels – which I ordered during GLM I back in 2011…
Oh, and my Heinrich Böll short-story collection still hasn’t been opened either 😦
Moving swiftly (and guiltily) along, let’s look at a couple of more recent acquisitions. For the third year in a row, I’ll be trying a bit of Thomas Bernhard – after Holzfällen (Woodcutters) and Alte Meister (The Old Masters), I’m hoping to get to the third of his arty novels, Der Untergeher (The Loser). This one looks at music instead of drama and art, but I’m sure it’ll still have that inimitable Bernhard style. Another writer whose work I’ve enjoyed in the past is W.G. Sebald, and this time I’m moving from his fiction to his non-fiction in the form of Luftkrieg und Literatur (On the Natural History of Destruction), essays I’m itching to read 🙂
Looking at the selections so far, I can see that my plans are slightly male dominated, but never fear – I do have a few books by female writers too. First up is Yoko Tawada, with her novel Etüden im Schnee (Études in the Snow), a novel in three parts about… polar bears? This one is currently being translated by Susan Bernofsky, so you might be able to try it in English for next year’s event. Speaking of Bernofsky, she’s also the translator of choice for Jenny Erpenbeck, and while I won’t need her services for Geschichte vom alten Kind (The Story of the Old Child), this one is already out in English if you’re tempted to try it 🙂
Finally, I have another couple of books by female writers currently on their way to me. Judith Hermann, she of Sommerhaus, später (Summerhouse, Later) and Alice fame, has a new book out very soon. It’s called Aller Liebe Anfang (The Start of Love), and I have it on pre-order. My final choice is a slightly older work, though. Christa Wolf is one of my GLM staples, and Kassandra is a book I really should have got to before now. A rather different story to the last of hers I read, Was bleibt (What Remains), this one takes us back to the Trojan War – very unGerman 😉
As always, these are mere ideas – what I’ll actually end up reading and reviewing for your pleasure might be entirely different. Still, whatever I get around to trying, I’m sure it’ll be a good month’s reading. Do join us, won’t you…