Almost a Plan for ‘German Literature Month IV’

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I found out about Lizzy’s & Caroline’s German Literature Month last year whilst it was already in progress and decided to join in, despite not having my own blog, and found it fun enough both contributing and reading others’ blogs that I wanted to join in again in 2014. I’m hoping to use it as a spur to get my own blog off the ground as well.

As my eyes are bigger than my (literary) stomach I’ve compiled a list of books that I would like to read. Now, being quite a slow reader, there’s no way I’m going to read all of these, in fact I’ll be lucky if I read more than four as I have work and other reading commitments (Proust mainly) that will eat up my time, and some of the books are quite long as well. Anyway, here are the contenders:

  • Indian Summer by Adalbert Stifter – I’ve actually started this one but had to return it to the library; I’m waiting to get it back so I can finish it.
  • Greed by Elfriede Jelinek – I’ve started this one as well. I’m not that impressed so far but I’ll continue with it.
  • Auto da Fé by Elias Canetti – This was a favourite book of mine from years ago and I’ve been meaning to re-read it for ages. I’m intrigued to see if it ‘holds up’ after a second reading.
  • Crowds and Power also by Elias Canetti – This would be another re-read but I’d probably only read one Canetti for GLM; I’ll have to choose between them.
  • The Hundred Days by Joseph Roth – There are many Roth books that I’d love to read but this Napoleonic tale really intrigues me.
  • Demian by Hermann Hesse – I picked this up in an Oxfam shop a few weeks back and the blurb on the back of the book is fascinating.
  • The Life and Opinions of Tomcat Murr by E.T.A. Hoffmann – I really, really want to read this book as Hoffmann is one of my favourite authors. Will I get the time in November?
  • The Nibelungenlied – I’ve had a copy of this kicking around for a while as I went through a phase a few years ago of reading some Arthurian legends and Medieval literature. I’m still not sure how to pronounce the title!
  • Venus in Furs by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch – This would be another re-read of a favourite.
  • Malina by Ingeborg Bachmann – I read some stories by Bachmann for last year’s GLM. The only problem with this one is that the book is unavailable at my library and is expensive to buy. I may take the plunge though.
  • Casanova: A Study in Self-Portraiture by Stefan Zweig – I keep meaning to read Casanova’s memoirs; in the meantime I may read this book.

That’s enough for now; the list goes on but these are the main contenders. I could always end up reading nothing from the above list if I have a change of mood.

I hope everyone has a great time with their reading for GLM IV – I’m looking forward to reading everyone’s reviews.

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18 Comments

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18 responses to “Almost a Plan for ‘German Literature Month IV’

  1. lizzysiddal

    Hi Jonathan. Have added your new blog to the GLM blogroll, and your post to the contributions list. Looking forward to reading your reviews. Welcome to the blogging world.

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  2. kaggsysbookishramblings

    An interesting selection there – I hadn’t considered the wonderful Hesse, but this month would be a nice excuse to re-read him!

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    • Jonathan

      I never get round to reading Hesse. I also have a copy of ‘Narziss and Goldmund’ which I keep picking up to read but other books seem to always take priority.

      I’ve just been looking at Remarque’s bibliography as well. Many of his books, other than AQOTWF, look interesting.

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  3. Now that’s an extremely ambitious and interesting list. I am especially looking forward to your reviews of the Canetti books (he was and still is one of the most important authors to me) and of the Murr novel, which is unique in many ways.

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    • Jonathan

      Yes, I like to set myself impossible targets. I initially considered including Canetti’s autobiographical books but I think I’ll save them for another time – I can’t remember now if I read all of them or just the first two.

      I’m a bit apprehensive that ‘Tomcat Murr’ won’t be as good as ‘Devil’s Elixirs’!

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  4. These are ambitious plans. Thanks so much for joining us.
    I loved Malina and find Sacher-masoch very, very special.
    Remarque has wriite many wonderful novels. Try Arc de Triomphe (not sure how it’s written in English). I’m glad you picked a Joseph Roth nobody mentioned so far. It will be great if people pick many different novels.

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    • Jonathan

      I’ve wanted to read the ‘One Hundred Days’ book for quite a while and GLM has given me an excuse to put it near the top of my TBR pile. It may end up being a popular one as I notice that a new US edition has just come out; it’s the same translation as the UK version I’ve got.

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  5. I have a Stefan Zweig I’m reading as well, Letter From An Unknown Woman, if I can see my way through Buddenbrooks. It is such fun to read with others. Thanks for visiting my blog (and, I love your icon/gravatar/picture of the boy with his cig and “naughty” book. Wonderful!).

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    • Jonathan

      Thanks Bellezza. It’s interesting seeing what everyone is planning to read and it’ll be just as interesting to see if we stick to our initial plans – I probably won’t. 🙂

      I’ve always loved the picture of the boy with his ciggie reading Henry Miller’s Sexus. It was an obvious choice for my gravatar.

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      • Just as I have always loved the reclining woman in my gravatar, a photo from the 50’s by the first woman photographer for Life. It’s fun how we both have black and white images that speak to us.

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  6. An intriguing selection of books (and very Austrian, which, as someone who grew up in Vienna, I’m secretly rather pleased about). Hope you get a chance to read as many as you can, without feeling too pressured!

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    • Jonathan

      Thanks Marina. I noticed last year that a lot of the books I read or wanted to read were from non-German writers. I still haven’t read anything by Thomas Bernhard either.

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      • And many Austrians would probably say that’s no bad thing… I’m not sure which Bernhard to recommend (I’ve only read 2-3 and that was a while ago), but yes, I do recommend him. His play Heldenplatz is also worth exploring.

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  7. yodcha

    Great list. Of these I have read only Joseph Roth’s The Hundred Days, I found the portrayal of the laundry woman really well done. I will be reading some Stefan Zweig also.

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    • Jonathan

      Thanks yodcha. I’m looking forward to reading the Roth book. I think I’m going to aim to read a significant number of books by Roth & Zweig next year.

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  8. Wonderful reading plans, Jonathan! One of my friends who has read all of Hesse’s novels says that ‘Demian’ is his favourite. I haven’t read it yet though. My favourite is ‘Narcissus and Goldmund’. I have wanted to read ‘The Nibelungenlied’ for some time too. I also have ‘Venus in Furs’ (which I might read for GLM) and ‘Malina’ also on my shelf. Ingeborg Bachmann is one of my favourite authors. It is sad that her literary output is so small. Like you, after exploring Austrian literature, I have fallen in love with it, sometimes I like it more than German-German literature. Happy reading! Will look forward to reading your reviews.

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    • Jonathan

      Thanks Vishy. The only Hesse that I’ve read is Steppenwolf and that was years ago and I can’t remember anything about it. I want to read ‘Narcissus and Goldmund’ but it won’t be for GLM.

      I’m starting to think that I’m going to have to have a GLY devoted to Hesse, Mann, Roth, Zweig, Bernhard et al. I’m cursed by being a slow reader though. I’ve tried to speed things up but it just doesn’t work; I either don’t take anything in or I feel it’s taking over my life. Reading should be fun and/or informative as far as I’m concerned.

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      • Hope you get to read ‘Narcissus and Goldmund’ and like it, Jonathan. GLY is a wonderful idea. I agree with you that we should read at our own pace without any rush and reading should be fun. I did a French Literature Year last year and read many French books and discovered new authors. But I read at my own pace and so it was lots of fun.

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