21.04.2009 - Martin Walser

Martin Walser, an icon in German literature. Walser has received numerous awards for his work, among them the Georg Büchner Award and the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade. He has also been decorated with the Pour le Mérite medal and appointed Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. His latest novel Ein Liebender Mann [A Loving Man] paints a moving, tender picture of an impossible love with language full of passion and power. The story is of the 73-year-old Goethe – an author so famous that his servant auctions off snippets of his hair – who has fallen in love with the 19-year-old Ulrike von Levetzow. The setting is Marienbad, 1823. The two exchange glances, then words – they kiss the Goethian way: Kissing is not about the mouths or the lips, it’s about the souls. “Thus was his condition: Ulrike or nothing.” But Goethe’s age catches up with him and in a dramatic series of events he finds himself torn between hope and despair. This is when he composes his “Marienbad Elegy.”