Wallstein Verlag

Ruth Klüger

Reality as It Is Read

Fact and Fiction in Literature

222 pages, 13 x 20,5 cm
ISBN: 978-3-8353-0026-2 (2006)


German Version

Is a writer free to alter historical material in a literary text according to his or her own precepts? Ruth Klüger addresses this issue by examining a spectrum of literary works from Plato to Philip Roth.

What is true? Specifically, what is the relationship between historical facts and a narrative pertaining to them? Ruth Klüger has long been considering the philosophical, moral, and aesthetic aspects of this topic. Why did Schiller have Joan of Arc die on the battlefield, even though as a historian he was quite aware of the true circumstances of her death? Why is it so easy for us to accept his making Maria Stuart younger than she was, whereas it would have been unforgivable for Tolstoy to have ignored Napoleon`s defeat in Russia? Why will a text be read in a completely different way - the story of survival in a concentration camp, for example - if we discovered that the author is not reporting personal experiences but has written a fictional novel in the first person instead? How can something that was once emotionally moving later be perceived as mere kitsch? »The autobiography is a literary work in which the narrator and the author coincide, forming a unity.« Just as certainly as Ruth Klüger sees writing about one`s own experiences to exist in a gray area between history and literature, so does she still firmly believe in the identity of a first-person narrator who is able to furnish an accurate account.

Published by Wallstein
Gemalte Fensterscheiben. Über Lyrik (Painted Windowpanes. On Poetry); weiter leben. Eine Jugend. (Still Alive. A Girlhood Remembered);

Katastrophen. Über deutsche Literatur (Catastrophes: On German Literature)

Ruth Klüger
born in Vienna in 1931, emigrated to the United States in 1947 and studied in New York and Berkeley. She taught German studies at the University of Virginia, Princeton University, and the University of California in Irvine, and was for many years the publisher of the German Quarterly. She lives today in Irvine and Göttingen. She has received numerous awards, most recently the Lessing Prize (2007).
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