The works of Arno Schmidt (1914-1979) are uncontested within academic literary criticism. But not so within informed literary circles; he is either unknown to the vast majority, or rejected for being “difficult” or “avant-garde.” And yet there are more than a million copies of his works circulating in Germany, plus translations into numerous languages. His readers value the precision of his observations and his surprising images, his knowledge of history and his penetrating political insight and especially his grim humor. The Goethe Institut Chicago would like to use this event to introduce Arno Schmidt to an audience that has frequently demonstrated its interest in German literature in the past. You may expect an encounter with an author whose texts will astonish you.
John E. Woods is the translator of over forty books from the German – most notably Arno Schmidt's Evening Edged in Gold, for which he won both the American Book Award for translation and the PEN Translation Prize in 1981; Patrick Süskind's Perfume, for which he again won the PEN Translation Prize in 1987; Christoph Ransmay'rs Terrors of Ice and Darkness, The Last World (for which he was awarded the Schlegel-Tieck Prize in 1991), and The Dog King; Libuse Monikova's The Facade; Thomas Mann's Buddenbrooks, The Magic Mountain (for which, along with Arno Schmidt's Nobodaddy's Children, he was awarded the Helen and Kurt Wolff Prize in 1996), Doctor Faustus, and, most recently, Joseph and His Brothers; Ingo Schulze's 33 Moments of Happiness and Simple Stories; Bernhard Schlink's Flights of Love; and Hans Ulrich Treichel's Leaving Sardinia. Currently John Woods is at work on Arno Schmidt's Zettels Traum.
Bernd Rauschenbach studied German Language and Literature, as well as Library Studies. He is a translator, literary editor and interpreter, and painter. He manages the Arno Schmidt Endowment in Eldingen near Bargfeld. Since 1975 he has collaborated with Jörg W. Gronius to publish, among others, “Stücke 1” (echoraum 1993) and “Stücke 2” (Weidle Verlag 1997).
Recorded Thursday, October 16, 2008 at Goethe-Institut Chicago.