Walser, Martin 1927-
WALSER, Martin 1927-
PERSONAL: Born March 24, 1927, in Wasserburg, Germany; son of Martin (an innkeeper) and Augusta (Schmid) Walser; married Jehle Kaethe, October 20, 1950; children: Franziska, Katharina-Johanna, Alissa, Theresia. Education: Attended University of Regensburg; University of Tuebingen, Ph.D., 1951. Religion: Catholic.
ADDRESSES: Home—Zum Hecht 36, Ueberlingen, 88662, Germany.
CAREER: Writer, 1951–. Visiting scholar at colleges and universities, including Middlebury College, 1973, University of Texas—Austin, 1973, Warwick University, England, 1975, West Virginia University, 1976, Dartmouth College, 1979, and University of California—Berkeley, 1983; made a lecture tour of Japan, 1977; presented the Lectures on Poetics at Frankfurt University, 1980.
MEMBER: PEN, Deutsche Akademie fuer Sprache und Dichtung, Akademie der Kuenste.
AWARDS, HONORS: Gruppe 47 Prize, 1955, for short story "Templones Ende"; Hermann Hesse Prize, 1957, for Ehen in Philippsburg; Gerhart-Hauptmann Prize, 1962, for Eiche und Angora: Eine deutsche Chronik; Schiller Foerder Prize, 1965; Bodensee Literature Prize, 1967; Schiller Gedaechtnis Prize, 1980; Buechner Prize, 1981; Grand Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, 1987; Zuckmayer Medallion, 1990; Literature Prize of the Bavarian Academy of Fine Arts, 1990; Ricarda Huch Prize, 1990; Ordre pour le Merite, 1993; Officier dans l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, 1994; Hoelderlin Prize, 1996; Peace Prize, German Booksellers, 1998.
Ehen in Philippsburg, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main, Germany), 1957, reprinted, 1977, translation by Eva Figes published as The Gadarene Club, Longmans, Green (London, England), 1959, adaptation of Figes' translation by J. Laughlin published as Marriage in Philippsburg, New Directions (Norfolk, CT), 1961.
Halbzeit, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main, Germany), 1960.
Das Einhorn, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main, Germany), 1966, translation by Barrie Ellis-Jones published as The Unicorn, Calder & Boyars (London, England), 1971, Boyars (London, England), 1981.
Die Gallistl'sche Krankheit, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main, Germany), 1972.
Der Sturz, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main, Germany), 1973.
Jenseits der Liebe, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main, Germany), 1976.
Was zu bezweifeln war: Aufsaetze und Reden 1958–1975, edited by Klaus Schuhmann, Aufbau-Verlag (Berlin, Germany), 1976.
Ein fliehendes Pferd: Novelle, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main, Germany), 1978, translation by Leila Vennewitz published as Runaway Horse: A Novel, Holt (New York, NY), 1980.
Der Grund zur Freude: 99 Sprueche zur Erbauung des Bewusstseins, Verlag Eremiten-Presse (Dusseldorf, Germany), 1978.
(With Andre Ficus) Heimatlob: Ein Bodensee-Buch, Gessler, 1978.
Wer ist ein Schriftsteller?: Aufsaetze und Reden, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main, Germany), 1979.
Seelenarbeit, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main, Germany), 1979, translation by Leila Vennewitz published as The Inner Man, Holt (New York, NY), 1984.
Das Schwanenhaus, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main, Germany), 1980, translation by Leila Vennewitz published as The Swan Villa, Holt (New York, NY), 1982.
Die Anselm Kristlein Trilogie (contains Halbzeit, Das Einhorn, and Der Sturz), Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main, Germany), 1981.
Brief an Lord Liszt, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main, Germany), 1982, translation by Leila Vennewitz published as Letter to Lord Liszt, Holt (New York, NY), 1985.
Brandung: Roman, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main, Germany), 1985; translation by Leila Vennewitz published as Breakers: A Novel, Holt (New York, NY), 1987.
Messmers Gedanken, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main, Germany), 1985.
Brandung, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main, Germany), 1985, translation by Leila Vennewitz published as Breakers, Holt (New York, NY), 1987.
Dorle und Wolf: Novelle, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main, Germany), 1987, translation by Leila Vennewitz published as No Man's Land, Holt (New York, NY), 1989.
Jagd, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main, Germany), 1988.
(With Asta Scheib) Armer Nanosh: Kriminalroman, Fischer (Frankfurt am Main, Germany), 1989.
Auskunft, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main, Germany), 1991.
Tassilo, six volumes, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main, Germany), 1991.
Die Verteidigung der Kindheit, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main, Germany), 1991.
Ohne Einander, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main, Germany), 1993.
Kaschmir in Parching: Szenen aus der Gegenwart, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main, Germany), 1995.
Finks Krieg: Roman, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main, Germany), 1996.
Ein Springender Brunnen: Roman, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main, Germany), 1998.
Der Lebenslauf der Liebe: Roman, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main, Germany), 2001.
Tod eines Kritikers: Roman, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main, Germany), 2002.
Augenblick der Liebe: Roman, Rowohlt (Reinbeck, Germany), 2004.
Ein Flugzeug ueber dem Haus und andere Geschichten; includes "Templones Ende"), Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main, Germany), 1955, 2nd edition, 1966.
Luegengeschichten, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main, Germany), 1965.
Fiction, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main, Germany), 1970.
Gesammelte Geschichten, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main, Germany), 1983.
PLAYS AND RADIO DRAMAS
Kantaten auf der Kellertreppe, produced in Stuttgart at Wuerttembergisches Staatstheater, 1953.
Der Abstecher, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main, Germany), 1961, translation by R. Grunberger published as The Detour in The Rabbit Race [and] The Detour, J. Calder (London, England), 1963.
Eiche und Angora: Eine deutsche Chronik (produced in Berlin at Schillertheater, 1962), Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main, Germany), 1962, 3rd edition, 1966, reprinted with English introduction and notes by A. E. Stubbs, Harrap, 1973, adaptation by Ronald Ducan published as The Rabbit Race in The Rabbit Race [and] The Detour, J. Calder (London, England), 1963.
Ueberlebensgross Herr Krott: Requiem fuer einen Unsterblichen, (produced in Stuttgart at Wuert-tembergisches Staatstheater, 1963), Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main, Germany), 1964, 2nd edition, 1969.
Der schwarze Schwan (produced in Stuttgart at Wuert-tembergisches Staatstheater, 1964), Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main, Germany), 1964.
Die Zimmerschlacht: Uebungsstueck fuer ein Ehepaar; produced in Munich at Muenchner Kammerspiele, 1967), Reclam, 1981.
Der Abstecher [and] Die Zimmerschlacht, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main), 1967.
Der schwarze Fluegel produced in Berlin at Akademie der Kuenste, 1968.
Ein Kinderspiel (produced in Stuttgart at Wuerttembergisches Staatstheater, 1971), Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main, Germany), 1970.
Aus dem Wortschatz unserer Kaempfe, Verlag Eremiten-Presse, 1971.
Gesammelte Stuecke (collected plays), Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main, Germany), 1971, revised edition, 1987.
Ein reizender Abend, produced in Luxembourg at Le Theatre des Casemats, 1972.
Das Sauspiel: Szenen aus dem 16. Jahrhundert (music by Mikis Theodorakis; produced in Hamburg at Deutsches Schauspielhaus, 1975), edited by Werner Braendle, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main, Germany), 1975.
In Goethes Hand: Szenen aus dem 19. Jahrhundert (produced in Vienna at Burgtheater, 1982), Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main, Germany), 1982.
Ein fliehendes Pferd: Theaterstueck (produced in Meersburg at Sommertheater, 1985), Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main, Germany), 1985.
Die Ohrfeige (produced in Darmstadt at Staatstheater, 1986), Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main, Germany), 1986.
Stuecke (collection of plays), Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main, Germany), 1987.
Nero laesst gruessen oder Selbstportraet des Kuenstlers als Kaiser (produced in Meersburg at Sommertheater, 1989), Isele, 1989.
Das Sofa (produced in Braunschweig at Staatstheater, 1994), Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main, Germany), 1993.
D. H. Lawrence, Das Karusell, Bloch, 1974.
Christopher Hampton, Herrenbesuch, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main), 1976.
Mark Medoff, Die Wette, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main), 1977.
(With Alissa Walser) Edward Bond, Die Frau, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main), 1979.
Trevor Griffiths, Die Party, Litag, 1980.
(With Johanna Walser) Moliere, Der eingebildete Kranke, Schauspielhaus Programmbuch, 1983.
(With Alissa Walser) Christopher Hampton, Gefaehrliche Liebschaften in Theater: Stuecke von Achternbusch, Bernhard, Bond, Dorst, Hampton, Kroetz, Wilson, edited by Ralph Rach, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main), 1986.
George Bernard Shaw, Frau Warrens Beruf, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main), 1986.
(With Johanna Walser) Harold Pinter, Zwerge, Rowohlt, 1994.
Lese-Erfahrungen mit Proust, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main), 1960.
Hoelderlin auf dem Dachboden, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main), 1960.
(Editor) Die Alternative; oder, Brauchen wir eine neue Regierung?, Rowohlt, 1961.
Beschreibung einer Form: Kafka, C. Hanser, 1961, 3rd edition, 1968.
Mitwirkung bei meinem Ende, Wege & Gestalten, 1962.
(Editor and author of introduction) Vorzeichen II: Neun neue deutsche Autoren, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main), 1963.
(Editor) Franz Kafka, Er: Prosa, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main, Germany), 1963.
(Author of essay) Jonathan Swift, Satiren, Insel-Verlag, 1965.
Erfahrungen und Leseerfahrungen (essays), Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main), 1965, 3rd edition, 1969.
(With Karl Hargesheimer) Theatre, Theatre: Ein Bilderbuch de Theaters, Friedrich, 1967.
Heimatkunde (essays and addresses), Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main), 1968.
(Author of foreword) Ursula Trauberg, Vorleben, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main, Germany), 1968.
(With others) Ueber Ernst Bloch, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main, Germany), 1968.
Hoelderlin zu entsprechen, K. Thomae, 1970.
Wie und wovon handelt Literatur (essays and addresses), Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main, Germany), 1973.
Selbstbewusstsein und Ironie: Frankfurter Vorlesungen, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main, Germany), 1981.
Heines Traenen: Essay, Verlag Eremiten-Presse, 1981.
Versuch, ein Gefuehl zu Verstehen, und andere Versuche, Reclam, 1982.
Goethes Anziehungskraft, Universitaets-verlag, 1983.
Liebeserklaerungen (essays), Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main, Germany), 1983.
Gefahrenvoller Aufenthalt: Erzaehlungen, edited by Klaus Pezold, Reclam, 1985.
Variationen eines Wuergegriffs. Bericht ueber Trinidad und Tobago, Radius, 1985.
Saentis: Hoerspiel, Radius, 1986.
(With Ficus) Die Amerikareise: Versuch, ein Gefuehl zu verstehen, Kunstverlag Weingarten, 1986.
Heilige Brocken: Aufsaetze, Prosa, Gedichte, Drumlin, 1986.
Gestaendnis auf Raten, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main, Germany), 1986.
Ueber Deutschland reden, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main, Germany), 1988.
Vormittag eines Schriftstellers, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main, Germany), 1994.
Stimmung 94, Edition Isele (Eggingen, Germany), 1994.
Zauber und Gegenzauber: Aufsatze und Gedichte, Edition Isele (Eggingen, Germany), 1995.
Literatur als Weltverstandnis: Drei Versuche, Isele (Eggingen, Germany), 1996.
Das Prinzip Genauigkeit: Laudatio auf Victor Klemperer, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main, Germany), 1996.
Deutsche Sorgen, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main, Germany), 1997.
(Illustrator with others) Nach dem Norden: Gedichte 1987–1997, Heiderhoff (Eisingen, Germany), 1998.
Erfahrungen beim Verfassen einer Sonntagsrede: Friedenspreis des Deutschen Buchhandels 1998, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main, Germany), 1998.
Über die Schüchternheit: Zeugen und Zeugnisse, Edition Isele (Eggingen, Germany), 1999.
Three Contemporary German Novellas, edited by A. Leslie Willson, Continuum (New York, NY), 2001.
Messmers Reisen, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main, Germany), 2003.
SIDELIGHTS: "Martin Walser is an innovative and consistently challenging writer who has portrayed the social and cultural development of West Germany precisely and with extraordinary versatility," praised Michael Winkler in the Dictionary of Literary Biography. A noted German author, Walser has produced award-winning works of fiction and nonfiction. His first novel, Ehen in Philippsburg was published in 1957 and won the Hermann Hesse Award. Winkler noted, "Walser's debut as a novelist is distinguished by an ability for precise observation that gives his descriptive passages the quality of authenticity; his evocation of the distinctive nuances and temper of the people who determined the course of German public life is accurately realistic."
Despite Walser's success as a novelist, drama remained his chief interest during this early period. One of Walser's first plays for the stage, Der Abstecher ("The Detour") was produced in 1961. It was an immediate success. Another play, Eiche und Angora: Eine Deutsche Chronik, was produced the following year and established his reputation in his own country and abroad as one of West Germany's leading playwrights during the 1960s. The play is a biting satire on recent German history as reflected through the ill-fated experiences of a town simpleton.
Walser wrote several plays dealing with the issues of post World War II Germany, including Der schwarze Schwan. Produced in 1964, Der schwarze Schwan has been identified by Heike A. Doane in the Dictionary of Literary Biography as "one of the first German plays to deal with the problem of Germany's national guilt." The young protagonist, Rudi Goothein, discovers his father's involvement in World War II atrocities and is unable to come to terms with the knowledge. Rudi atones for the older generation's crimes by shooting himself.
Walser turns from the political front to the home front with one of his most popular plays, Die Zimmerschlacht: Uebungsstueck fuer ein Ehepaar. Produced in 1967, Die Zimmerschlacht has been described by Doane as "Walser's most successful drama." The play depicts a series of arguments between a middle-aged married couple as they prepare to attend an engagement party. Through their debate over whether or not to attend the party, the husband and wife each discover that what they thought were their private hopes and expectations are nothing more than internalized social expectations. Die Zimmerschlacht struck a particularly resonant chord in audiences. For a decade, according to Doane, it was the third most frequently staged play in West Germany.
Following several plays between 1968 and 1975 which were poorly received, Walser concentrated on writing novels. The production of In Goethes Hand: Szenen aus dem 19. Jahrhundert in 1982 marked a return to drama and a new period of success as a playwright. Walser's plays are recognized as significant landmarks in German dramatic literature in both content and structure. "Martin Walser's works are rooted in specific locations and traditions that reflect conditions in the larger community of contemporary Germany," Doane noted. "A deep sense of class origins pervades his work. He believes that Germany has emerged as a society with materialistic rather than democratic principles, and his dramas are contributions to the discussion of Germany's social and political development."
Walser voiced the same concerns about Germany in his novels. Following Ehen in Philippsburg, Walser wrote three novels featuring the same protagonist, Anselm Kristlein: Halbzeit in 1960, Das Einhorn in 1966, and Der Sturz in 1973. Of these books, Diether H. Haenicke noted in The Challenge of German Literature that "Walser 's novels tend to be structurally somewhat weak; his great literary talent is to be found in the realm of detailed description." When the trilogy appeared in translation, a reviewer in the Times Literary Supplement commented: "Seen as a whole, this trilogy probably has no equal as a portrayal of the society created by postwar prosperity in West Germany. What is particular to Walser 's work is that … he describes this society largely in terms of the present, with little reference to the Nazi past."
The 1984 publication of The Inner Man, an English translation of Seelenarbeit by Leila Vennewitz, marked the beginning of a wider readership for Walser. The protagonist of this novel—the "inner man"—is Xaver Zurn, chauffeur to a wealthy German industrialist. Outwardly calm and in control, Xaver is physically, emotionally, and psychologically a cauldron of conflict. Reviewing the novel for the Los Angeles Times Book Review, Richard Eder wrote, "Xaver, compulsive and touchy, is a model of outward order and, inwardly, a raging hell. At one level, he is Martin Walser's comically inventive caricature of modern Germany. But he is more. He is imaginative and a yearner. If his little-man megalomania makes him alternatively absurd and sinister, sometimes verging on madness, there is humanity to him." Eder further commented that "Walser's point is that the dehumanization of modern life, and particularly modern German life, distorts the individual." John Simon, writing in the New York Times Book Review, was also impressed with the character Walser had created: "Xaver Zurn … is so keenly and completely achieved in his uniqueness that he has no difficulty freewheeling into universality."
The Swan Villa, originally published as Das Schwanenhaus, addressed the same themes as The Inner Man. Gottlieb Zurn, the novel's protagonist, is a real-estate salesperson who, despite a life of uppermiddle-class affluence, is consumed with feelings of inadequacy and amorphous fears of a coming disaster. The main events of the novel concern Zurn's strenuous efforts to broker the sale of a major piece of property—The Swan Villa—only to see the property fall beneath the blades of a developer's bulldozers. Opinions were divided concerning Walser's success with this novel. Spectator contributor Harriet Waugh labelled The Swan Villa "boring" and voiced that "reading it was an endurance test." Other reviewers were more positive. Ernst Pawel, writing in the New York Times Book Review, praised the "vitality" of Walser's prose and concluded, "This book has grace, style and wisdom. It should be read." Jim Miller in Newsweek called the book "an acute little saga of lean style, glum resonance, and spiky good humor."
In his New York Times Book Review review of Letter to Lord Liszt, originally published as Brief an Lord Liszt, John Banville described Martin Walser's major thematic concern: "He writes about middle-class man in industrialized—or postindustrial—society, and about the pains and ills that afflict him." The protagonist in this case is Franz Horn, an executive in a denture factory, which is converting to the manufacture of surf boards. The novel takes the form of a long, rambling letter, with nineteen postscripts, written by Horn during a night of lonely drinking. Addressed to a colleague named Liszt who long ago usurped Horn's place as the boss's favorite, Horn lists his grievances and notes that now, in his turn, Liszt falling away from favored status. Writing for the Los Angeles Times, Richard Eder was not as impressed with this novel as he had been with The Inner Man: "Walser reveals the world through the illness the man suffers, but the reader needs—as he received in the far more expansive The Inner Man—wider points of reference than the illness itself."
Walser changes his setting in Breakers, the English translation of Brandung, turning from Germany to the United States. Walser's protagonist, Helmut Halm, is induced by an old friend to take a leave of absence from his position as a Stuttgart gymnasium instructor in order to fill a sudden temporary vacancy in the German department at Washington University in southern California. Walser's narrative of Halm's adventures—including a comic near-seduction by a blonde coed—struck several reviewers as predictable. Sven Birkerts suggested in the New Republic that if the novelist was aiming for satire, he fell short: "For some reason, though, Walser is just not able to draw blood. He hits at easy targets—American youth, faculty parties, departmental subterfuges, marital disaffection—but he hits them the easy way. Straight on." New York Times Book Review contributor Suzanne Ruta commented that "in California Mr. Walser is on less familiar terrain, and although he sketches amusing portraits of West Coast Germans with their immigrant pieties (Goethe's favorite flowers in the garden) and their American excesses, the overall picture is somehow diffuse." Despite his reservations about the novel, however, Birkerts ended his review by asserting that "Walser has a special handle on the German sensibility…. His obsessive, self-loathing, aggressively obstinate males reflect some of the deeper formations of the national soul."
In No Man's Land, originally published as Dorle und Wolf: Novelle, Walser takes another look at the divided German state and the effects on its people. The protagonist of No Man's Land is Wolf Zieger, an idealistic, East German spy living in Bonn. It is Zieger's dream to unite the two halves of his divided country, seeing them as parts of the same soul. Walser makes it clear that the dream is Wolf's way of avoiding confronting the amoral nature of his own actions as a spy. In contrast to Wolf's dream, Walser presents the two German states as quite similar in their willingness to exploit or repress the individual. As Suzanne Ruta summarized in the Village Voice Literary Supplement, this is Walser's serious message behind his satirical portrait of Eastern and Western bureaucrats: "The real division in Germany is not between East and West; as always, it's between the powerful and the weak." "The satire in No Man's Land is deadly and exact," judged Richard Eder in the Los Angeles Times Book Review. New York Times Book Review contributor Anthony Hyde concluded: "No Man's Land is a curious and powerful novel by one of West Germany's finest novelists. If you don't know his work, this would make an excellent place to start."
Kaschmir in Parching continues Walser's novelized examination of bureaucracy. This book follows the events of a mayoral election in the quiet town of Parching, near Munich. The election pits a moneyminded tax consultant, Kelter, against Hulsenbeck, a teacher who urges the community to deal with its Nazi legacy. The opposing campaigns wear one another out; only the appearance of con man Fritz Vritz—'Kaschmir'—revives public interest in the election, and not in a good way. "A truly well-wrought piece, Kaschmir brilliantly illuminates the intersection of German public and private life where personal lovability is measured in numbers just like political popularity, and it shows Walser at his wryly biting and epigrammatic best," wrote Ulf Zimmermann in World Literature Today.
Walser's next venture was Finks Krieg ("Fink's War"), a novel about Stefan Fink, an aging state official in a legal battle to clear his reputation of the lies that besmirched it. About 250 pages of the novel are used to explain the legal proceedings "in gruesome detail," as Erich Wolfgang Skwara wrote in World Literature Today. Walser avoids tedium by showing Fink growing ever more consumed by his need for justice. "Fink eventually will end up dividing the world into friends and enemies, only to discover soon that even his friends have long since tired of his crusade for justice and that the world considers him for what he rightfully is: a nuisance and a troublemaker for all but himself," Skwara wrote. The story is not just about Stefan Fink; Skwara wrote that Walser 's "fiction, plays, and essays have demonstrated with greater clarity, honesty, and readability than most literature what has been going on in the German soul and mind."
Der Lebenslauf der Liebe ("The Moment of Love") shows other Germans emotionally lost in the modern world. This novel follows Susi Gern, wife of a millionaire, who longs for a love that she cannot find in her marriage. She and her husband have open extramarital affairs, but they do nothing to ease her growing frustration. Walser's portrayal of Susi Gern and her pain has brought much acclaim from critics and readers alike. "The craft, the epic breath infused into every page and scene, clearly makes this book a masterpiece not just of writing, but of empathy and deep humaneness … Martin Walser has given convincing proof that to write about love is not the domain of the young, that to know about passion requires maturity," wrote Erich Wolfgang Skwara in World Literature Today.
Walser drew less praise for Tod eines Kritikers ("Death of a Critic.") This novel tells the story of Andre Ehrl-Konig, a TV book reviewer who destroys authors' reputations for high ratings. Ehrl-Konig, a parody of the real-life German critic Marcel Reich-Ranicki, disappears; people assume he has been murdered by a vengeful author. Following this revelation is a murder mystery, which did little to satisfy critics. Tod eines Kritikers is "a bad book by what used to be a good writer … a travesty of a detective novel," wrote Rita Terras in World Literature Today. Additionally, the attack on Reich-Ranicki, a Jew and the only member of his family to survive the Warsaw Ghetto, has been seen by some as an alarming nod to anti-Semitism. For this, Tod eines Kritikers was at first denied publication and denounced in newspaper editorials. However, some critics observed that this portrayal was not hateful, but instead purposely provocative. "To any reader acquainted with Martin Walser's oeuvre—he has written more impressive essays on Auschwitz than almost any contemporary author—the charge of anti-Semitism is absurd…. Provocation is a weapon that Walser has increasingly employed both to unsettle his fellow countrymen and to test the limits of tolerance in German society," wrote Michael Butler in Times Literary Supplement.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Contemporary Literary Criticism, Volume 27, Gale, 1984, pp. 455-467.
Dictionary of Literary Biography, Gale, Volume 75: Contemporary German Fiction Writers, Second Series, 1988, pp. 241-248; Volume 124: Twentieth-Century German Dramatists, 1919–1992, 1992, pp. 404-413.
Haenicke, Diether H. and Horst S. Daemmrich, editors, The Challenge of German Literature, Wayne State University Press (Detroit, MI), 1971, pp. 350-404.
Rooney, Kathryn, Wife and Mistress: Women in Martin Walser's Anselm Kristlein Trilogy, University of Warwick (London, England), 1975.
Siblewski, Martin, editor, Martin Walser, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main, Germany), 1981.
Waine, Anthony Edward, Martin Walser: The Development as Dramatist, 1950–1970, Bouvier-Verlag (Bonn, Germany), 1978.
Booklist, September 15, 1999, review of Ein Springender Brunnen: Roman, p. 245.
Economist, October 6, 2001, review of Der Lebenslauf Der Liebe: Roman, p. 79; August 31, 2002, "Not a Ripping Read; German Fiction."
Los Angeles Times, January 18, 1985; October 9, 1985; October 7, 1987.
Los Angeles Times Book Review, January 27, 1985; June 7, 1987, p. 14; January 1, 1989, p. 3.
Modern Language Review, October, 1997, review of Halbzeit, p. 912.
New Republic, December 28, 1987, pp. 40-42.
Newsweek, October 25, 1982, p. 118A.
New York Review of Books, March 28, 1985, p. 31; August 14, 1986, p. 37.
New York Times Book Review, October 10, 1982, pp. 11, 19; February 24, 1985; September 15, 1985, pp. 11-12; May 24, 1987, p. 20; November 1, 1987, p. 43; January 22, 1989, p. 8.
Spectator, March 19, 1983, p. 24; December 17, 1983, p. 52.
Times Literary Supplement, October 5, 1973, p. 1156; July 25, 1980; October 3, 1980; May 6, 1983, p. 464; November 15, 1985, p. 1298; June 15, 1990, p. 631; October 4, 1991, p. 33; January 10, 1997, review of Finks Krieg, p. 22; October 17, 1997, review of Werke in Zwolf Banden, p. 30; March 26, 1999, review of Ein Springender Brunnen, p. 24; July 19, 2002, Michael Butler, "A Portait of Vanity," p. 23.
Tribune Books (Chicago, IL), September 27, 1987, sec. 14, p. 7; January 22, 1989, sec. 14, p. 7.
Village Voice Literary Supplement, October, 1985, p. 3; July, 1989.
World Literature Today, winter, 1995, review of Vormittag Eines Schriftstellers, p. 135; autumn, 1995, review of Mit Der Schwere Spielen, p. 788; summer, 1996, Ulf Zimmermann, review of Kaschmir In Parching: Szenen aus der Gegenwart, p. 685; winter, 1997, Erich Wolfgang Skwara, review of Finks Krieg: Roman, pp. 140-141; winter, 1999, review of Ein Springender Brunnen, p. 140; spring, 1999, Erich Wolfgang Skwara, review of Nach dem Norden: Gedichte, 1987–1997, p. 323; spring, 2002, Erich Wolfgang Skwara, review of Der Lebenslauf der Liebe, pp. 122-123; April-June, 2003, Rita Terras, review of Tod eines Kritikers, p. 132, and Theodore Ziolkowski, review of Aus dem Wortschatz unserer Kampfe: Prosa, Aufsatze, Gedichte, p. 134.
Litrix: German Literature Online Web site, http://www.litrix.de/ (June 29, 2004), Dr. Thomas Anz, "Contemporary German Literature: Generations, Themes and Forms."