The first monograph on Daniel Kehlmann sets his work within the context of world literature. Brilliantly written and extremely readable.
When, in Germany, Daniel Kehlmann`s writing is acclaimed as clever, charming and almost outrageously entertaining, this may be understood as a double-edged form of praise. Behind it lies the sceptical assumption that it is not really possible for »truly great literature« to be so easy to read. Gasser does not attempt to deny the lightness of Kehlmann`s writing, only the sceptical conclusion that tends to be made as a result of it. Important is what lies behind it, or even beneath it: »No other contemporary German author writes so much, with such agonising reluctance, about death and dying (...) As soon as they are born, all of Kehlmann`s creations are shadowy beings - commuting between this world and the next.« Such gloominess alone would scarcely be bearable, but Gasser believes that Kehlmann`s literary significance arises from the way it is linked with the gracefulness of the narrative, and sees the author in relation to international literary geniuses such as Henry James, Vladimir Nabokov and Jorge Luis Borges.
Some of Kehlmann`s unpublished, unfinished and rejected texts were also made available to Gasser. His book, written with a light-heartedness which makes it enjoyable not only for literary specialists, traces the development of the author from his debut »Beerholm`s Vorstellung« (Beerholm`s Performance) (and earlier works) to »Ruhm« (Fame) (and later works) in a polemic and profound way.
Markus Gasser, born in 1967, studied German and English in Innsbruck. Lectured at the University of Innsbruck, literary critic, wrote for the Zeitschrift für Germanistic (Journal of German Studies). Lives in Innsbruck and Zurich.