Zschokke reads Proust. A highly comical and intelligent struggle with 5000 pages of world literature, and with himself.
How can you call yourself an author if you have not read one of the truly great works of world literature?! Would people respond with a pitying smile if you were forced to admit that you did not know In Search of Lost Time ?
Matthias Zschokke sets himself a mammoth task: full of determination, curiosity and discipline, he attempts to grasp the secret of this work. He soon encounters doubts. Perhaps it is just the German translation? –And the French original would be sure to put any reader into an immediate state of intoxication? Zschokke makes real efforts to prove that he measures up to the masterpiece, but he reads like an author, pondering over every detail. He is always prepared to look within himself to discover the causes for any displeasure and incomprehension he feels. Finally, he enlists the help and support of a famous Proust translator (and specialist), firing him with endless questions about parts of the text he finds illogical or hypocritical. The thankful author is sometimes amazed by the specialist’s explanations, but does not cease to bombard him with his grievances. »The fifth volume finally drove me crazy with its infinite loop of hysterical bitching.« Nevertheless: Perseverance is required!
Matthias Zschokke, born in Berne in 1954, has lived in Berlin since 1979, where he works as an author and filmmaker. He made his debut in 1982 with the novel Max, for which he was awarded the Robert Walser Prize, and has published a large number of novels, plays and feature films. Matthias Zschokke has been awarded prestigious prizes, including the Gerhart Hauptmann Prize and the Solothurn Literature Prize. He was the first German-speaking author ever to win the Prix Femina étranger for the novel Maurice mit Huhn [Maurice with Chicken] and the Eidgenössischer Literaturpreis [Swiss Literature Prize] for Der Mann mit den zwei Augen [The Man with Two Eyes].