LibriVox has quite a large German speaking community who has been reading numerous works by German authors. This month, we honour both with 10 gems from our catalog.
Alexander von Humboldt was a major figure in German science, and he is credited with founding the fields of biogeography. Homeschooled like his brother, he was always interested in nature and was finally able to travel extensively in South America where he wrote Personal Narrative of Travels to the Equinoctial Regions of America During the Years 1799 – 1804.
Kasperl in der Türkei is also a travel narrative, although it is by far not politically correct. The main character is Kasperl Larifari, a brainchild of Franz Graf von Pocci, who was a court official of Ludwig I. of Bavaria. However, he is better known as the founder of the Munich Marionette Theatre, for which he wrote numerous plays like the above.
When Gottfried Keller was young, he wanted to become a painter, but despite having talent, he turned to writing instead. In 1876 he retired early from a government job to write full time. His most famous novel is Der grüne Heinrich – dealing with the life on an impoverished young artist – which is considered autobiographical.
Carl von Ossietzky was a German pacifist who worked as an investigative journalist. He was convicted for treason in 1931, and received the 1935 Nobel Prize for Peace – a controversial decision. His collected writings Sämtliche Schriften 1911-1921 for various newspapers are as relevant today as they were 100 years ago.
Another German journalist was Jakob Wassermann; he worked as copy editor for the Simplicissimus in Munich and released his first novel in 1896. His novel Caspar Hauser oder die Trägheit des Herzens attempts to solve the mystery surrounding the famous foundling of Nuremberg.
A mystery also shrouds Die Frau mit den Karfunkelsteinen by Eugenie Marlitt, a very popular German novelist. As a young girl she was adopted by Princess of Schwarzenberg-Sondershausen and sent to Vienna to study music. However, Eugenie became deaf and eventually, at age 38, turned to writing novels.
Not quite so drastic a change of occupation was that of Martin Luther. The monk, disgusted by some practices of Catholicism, became a seminal figure in the Protestant Revolution, and was excommunicated in 1521. His book Der Kleine Kathechismus was meant to teach Bible basics to common people, and is – with small modifications – still in use today. We also have an English translation of this book.
Theology, amongst others, was one of the studies Carl Spitteler engaged in. The Swiss poet then became a teacher in Russia and started publishing in 1881. He won the Nobelprize for Literature in 1919, and his Balladen is a good collection of his poems.
Poetry stood at the beginning of Annette von Droste-Hülshoff’s literary career. A precocious but unencouraged child, she became one of the most important German poets. Her most famous novella is Die Judenbuche about a murder that is avenged only years after the deed…
Some 100 years after her, Stefan Zweig was one of the most popular writers world wide. Of Jewish descent, he left Austria after the Nazis came to power. He committed suicide together with his wife in 1942. Brennendes Geheimnis deals with a young boy who cannot understand his mother’s attraction to another man. An English version is available.
Enjoy our selection of German authors!