On Walking in the Karst

On Walking in the Karst

184 pages


Genre: Nature, Nature Writing, Essay, Nonfiction
On walking in a landscape that knows no paths

While his classmates meet in the small town, Jan Röhnert spends his childhood afternoons in his own quarry, making his way through the elderberry bushes and explores the air-raid shelter his great-grandfather had into the sandstone. This rock, which was once filled with water, is now only caves, depressions and pits. And even as an adult he does not let go of it: in France, in Italy, again and again, almost manically, in the southern Harz and in the Thuringian countryside. Jan Röhnert sets out to explore this mysterious stone formation step by step. He meticulously records his paths as local lore, whose magic flashes in the naming. As a reader trained in literature he practices a close reading of the landscape, which he inventories eloquently in a poetic list of a landscape in transition. But how to explain the fascination that emanates from this rock, which is more edge than center? how can one speak of the karst, which is actually characterized gaps, holes and voids? Jan Röhnert finds answers in literature: with Rilke, Handke, and Julien Gracq, he questions this landscape of his heart, meets people who are just as fascinated by it as he is, and creates an ode to the most impassable of all landscapes.

German title: Vom Gehen im Karst
ISBN: 978-3-75180-203-1
Publisher: Matthes & Seitz Berlin
Publication date: 2021

Sample translation

Complete German translation available

Jan Röhnert, geboren 1976 in Gera, ist Literaturwissenschaftler, Essayist, Übersetzer, Autor von Reiseprosa und Lyriker, der u. a. mit dem Lyrik-Debütpreis des LCB, einem Harald-Gerlach-Stipendium, dem Wolfgang-Weyrauch-Förderpreis und dem Lyrikpreis des Deutschen Buchhandels ausgezeichnet wurde. des LCB, ein Harald-Gerlach-Stipendium, den Wolfgang-Weyrauch-Förderpreis und den Lyrikpreis der RAI Südtirol. Er lehrt an der TU Braunschweig und lebt in Leipzig.

"Just as one must surrender oneself when reading this book in order to find one's way into it, Röhnert, a wanderer and thinker, surrenders himself and his looking to natural phenomena in order to order and enrich them in the process of writing. [...] Where the gaze normally slips, Röhnert discovers the spectacular." - Christoph Schröder, Deutschlandfunk