Wednesdays are wunderbar – Joseph Roth, Irmgard Keun and Christa Wolf (English or German) Giveaway

Today we have a different kind of giveaway. The books are personal contributions and that is why you can win them either in English or in German. The giveaway is part of Lizzy and my German Literature Month in November.

The books I selected are the following:

Joseph Roth’s The Radetzky March (1932).

The Radetzky March is one of the very great novels of 20th century literature. It’s a swan song, a melancholic depiction of the end of an era.

The Radetzky March can fairly claim to be one of the great novels of the last century. Its theme, beautifully articulated, is the end of an era. His anthem for a vanished world has the intense, fleeting beauty of a sunset’ Sunday Telegraph ‘He saw, he listened, he understood. The Radetzky March is a dark, disturbing novel of eccentric beauty… If you have yet to experience Roth, begin here, and then read everything’ Eileen Battersby, Irish Times ‘The true reading pleasure afforded by the rich environment Roth captures may well have increased over time, while the schisms at the heart of Europe continue to fascinate. It seems that we are rediscovering in twentieth-century Central European literature classics for a new millennium.”

Book number two is After Midnight (1937) by Irmgard Keun.

Keun was a very successful writer until the Nazi’s came. Her novel After Midnight and all of her other works (the most famous is The Artificial Silk Girl) were confiscated and banned. She flew from Nazi Germany together with her lover Joseph Roth. Keun is a tragic figure. In and out of psychiatric hospitals, alcoholism… Her biography is as fascinating as her novels. There is a lot of her own life in the novels too.

What I like a lot about her writing is that it seems so deceptively simple while in reality it is full of explosives. In After Midnight a young woman with the voice of a child describes the most upsetting things. It’s a lucid depiction of the ascent of Nazism and shows, like not many other novels, how and why the Nazi’s were so successful. The fact that a very simple, almost simpleminded girl tells the story makes it an uncanny read.

In 1937, German author Irmgard Keun had only recently fled Nazi Germany with her lover Joseph Roth when she wrote this slim, exquisite, and devastating book. It captures the unbearable tension, contradictions, and hysteria of pre-war Germany like no other novel. Yet even as it exposes human folly, the book exudes a hopeful humanism. It is full of humor and light, even as it describes the first moments of a nightmare. After Midnight is a masterpiece that deserves to be read and remembered anew.

The third book is Christa Wolf’s No Place on Earth (1979).

No Place on Earth is a special book for me and a special book for this event. It is my favourite Christa Wolf and its topic fits nicely into our event as it depicts an imaginary encounter between Heinrich von Kleist and the poet Karoline von Günderrode. Von Günderrode is hardly read anymore although she was very influential. She was the friend of Bettina von Arnheim (born Bettina von Brentano, sister of Clemens Brentano) who wrote a book about her which is really wonderful. Von Günderrode and von Kleist never really met but – that’s what Christa Wolf imagines – if they had…. Who knows, they might not have ended their lives. Both authors committed suicide at an early age and are seen as victims of the circumstances in which they lived. In Wolf’s novel they are given the opportunity to meet and to find that they are kindred spirits. It’s a very poetical novel and I would wish that whoever wins it will like it as much as I did.

This fictionalized account of an encounter in 1804 between the poet Karoline von Gunderrode and writer Heinrich von Kleist is pieced together from extracts of actual letters. In real life, both committed suicide some years after the events in this book.

If you would like to win one of those books, or enter for more than one, please let me know which ones you would like and why you would like to win them. Also indicate if you would like the book in English or in German. There is only one little condition – you should be a participant of German Literature Month.

The giveaway is open internationally, the books will be shipped by amazon or the book depository. The winners will be announced on Sunday 30 October 18.00 – European – (Zürich) time.

31 thoughts on “Wednesdays are wunderbar – Joseph Roth, Irmgard Keun and Christa Wolf (English or German) Giveaway

  1. Thank you for the opportunity to win some German-language books 🙂 I would love to have any of them (all of them!) in German. The Wolf and Roth books have been on my radar for a while now, and I saw a review of the Keun book on a blog recently and was very interested in reading that too.

    In short, any of them in German because they all sound fascinating!

  2. Pingback: Wednesdays are wunderbar: Caroline’s selection and a personal highlight « Lizzy’s Literary Life

  3. I’d like to enter for the Christa Wolf in English, please. She’s one of those authors I’ve always been meaning to get around to reading. There’s nothing in the rules to exclude an entry from the cohost of German Literature Month, is there?

    • OK. Did you like Keun? I could imagine you would like her Artificial Silk Girl. I wonder how she is in English, it seems so simple but I think it’s not easy to translate the voice of the girl.

  4. Hi, please enter me for the second and third books, in English, please. I’m afraid that the first one sounds too melancholic for me!

    Last Saturday I found Heinrich Boll’s “The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum” in a secondhand English bookshop here in Rome, so I’m taking that for my second book, along with Effi Briest. Afterwards I hope to read his “Irish Journal” too – I’m Irish. See what you’ve started me on!

    Thanks for your generous giveaways.

    • I thought you are Irish, your blog title sounded vaguely familiar. My grandmother was from Britanny and spoke breton, French was her second language. I never learned it, I would have liked though.
      We will give away quite a few of Böll’s books next week, I think. The Irish diary as well.
      I didn’t think Radetzky March was too melancholic but looking at it closely, it certainly is.
      I’m glad we triggered something and I hope you discover a lot of books you will like.
      I started Effi Briest two days ago (I’ve read it before) and I immediately knew again wh I liked it so much.

  5. Thanks for the great giveaway! I’m not sure which book looks best – I’ve heard great things about The Radetzky March, the Nazi mentality fascinates me, and I love books about real-life authors and other literary works. I’d like to win any of these books, in English, please.

    I’m participating in German lit month, too.

  6. Hi Caroline, Even though I feel extremely cheeky for entering another giveaway since I have just won three Peirene titles on Lizzie’s blog, the Irmgard Keun novel sounds fascinating so please enter me for that book. Many thanks, Ceri

  7. Please may I enter for the Roth and the Christa Wolf? I love Wolf and haven’t read this one of hers (and it sounds excellent) and the Roth is a book I’ve been interested in for a while. Alas I will need the English versions as my German is not what it was! But so long as they are appreciated, it doesn’t really matter what language they are read in, right?

  8. I’ve just ordered a cheap After Midnight from an online source – it looks good from what you write about it above. I’m always interested in the life of “ordinary” germans as the Nazi’s came to power and have several books on my blog which relate to that period – perhaps Hans Fallada does it best. I’m waiting for this to be translated but as its 900 pages long in the original German, that’s probably unlikely! Looking back on my German reading, I think nothing equallled Mann’s Magic Mountain. I’d read it again but its a bit on the hefty side. The Radetzky March is on my list but I want to read it on the Kindle so I can make notes and highlights as I read.

    • I started re-reading as I find it so special. The voice of the young girl, so naive but uttering the most incredible things… It’s one of the best books on the rise of Nazism and how ordinary people got dragged into it.
      I find Fallada and Keun have similarities.
      Those diaries look interesting. I’ve got the diaries of Viktor Klemperer. That’s also an amazing story. A Jewish professor who styed in Germany and didn’t get what was going until it was too late. Not sure if it has been translated but could be.
      I’m looking forward to your Radetzky March review.

  9. AFTER MIDNIGHT would fit into my library quite well and as I share my reads with brother and sister-in-law, it would be perused.

    I’m participating in German Literature Month. Need I say, as a proletariat American, I didn’t know German had a literature month.


    • Hello Susanna,
      Make sure to enter the next giveaway on Wednesday (tomorrow). “After Midnight” has already been shipped to a lucky winner in the US. I’m sure you and your familiy wil also find something of interest in the upcoming weeks.

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