My Literary History of the 20th Century

My Literary History of the 20th Century

229 pages


Genre: Fiction, Literature
The canon of German Book Prize winner Frank Witzel: a celebration of fiction, a celebration of imposture, a praise of the lie we call literature

One of the great wonders of the literary world is the magnificent rediscovery of an overlooked genius, an unjustly forgotten person, an ostracised or suppressed artist whose work suddenly appears in a completely new light under the eyes of those born later and has something to say to us today. Frank Witzel has set out in search of such writers who have fallen into the darkness of history and has made some astonishing discoveries. But he is interested in more than making amends: the more than one hundred discoveries he reports on in this fascinating essay, first published and celebrated in the magazine Schreibheft and now updated and expanded for this edition, also include works by unsuccessful, obsessed, failed and completely unknown authors.

In this very personal canon, a poetics of the literary industry and its ironies, silliness, disappointed hopes and great expectations emerges as if in passing, which also allows a glimpse into the abysses of the writing room. There lurks the longing for the perfect text together with the looming possibility of failure, which never seems final – because a posthumous discovery and great success in the form of after-fame always seem possible. Or is this also just a phantasm of the market? Frank Witzel's essay provides more than one answer and creates a hall of mirrors of the author in all his possibilities.

German title: Meine Literaturgeschichte des 20. Jahrhunderts
ISBN: 978-3-7518-0963-4
Publisher: Matthes & Seitz Berlin
Publication date: 2024



Sample translation

English sample available

Frank Witzel has published numerous radio plays, essays, and novels, including The Invention of the Red Army Faction by a Manic-Depressive Teenager in the Summer of 1969, for which he received the German Book Prize in 2015, and Sweet Shipwreck (2020). In 2017 he received the Poetics Lectureship from the University of Heidelberg, and in 2018 the Poetics Lectureship from the University of Tübingen; he also held the Friederichs Endowed Professorship at the Hochschule für Gestaltung Offenbach. In 2021 he received the Erich Fried Prize. 

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