Opening with a Sense of Change in the Air
The 32nd annual Klagenfurt Literary Competition opened with a sense of change in the air: beginning with a new presenter everything has been turned upside down.
The 32nd annual Klagenfurt Literary Competition opened with a sense of change in the air: beginning with a new presenter everything has been turned upside down. But one thing has remained the same: Klagenfurt is once again the hub of the world of literature.
Video: opening of German Literature Days 2008
Recording of 26th June
Moor instead of Granditz
This year it has not been left to Ernst A. Granditz to introduce the numerous peculiarities of the competition but rather it will be the task and honour of his colleague Dieter Moor to do so. While, on the one hand, the competition has been greatly rejuvenated, for the first time in its history it will also be accessible to a European-wide audience: all texts and the ongoing reporting will more or less be simultaneously available online in seven different languages.
The hall of the ORF Theatre was completely full. Numerous visitors could only follow the opening on the screens in the Literature Café.
Haslitzer: "European Vision"
In his opening speech, the regional director of ORF Carinthia Willy Haslitze explained the idea behind the project: "We have a vision of German-speaking authors having their texts for the competition read, for instance, by publishers in London, editors in Paris and literature fans in Prague. At the same time, we want to present to Europe an overview of the literature currently being written in German." Haslitzer also pointed out that for the first time ever literature fans from England, France, Italy, Spain, the Czech Republic and Slovenia would have the chance to vote for the winner of the Audience Award.
ORF Regional Director Willy Haslitzer presents Michaela Monschein with a first edition of the novel "Geometrischen Heimatroman" by Gert Jonke.
For 20 Years Live on 3sat
It goes without saying that the 32nd annual German Literature Days will also include a welcoming speech held by a politician. The City of Klagenfurt's Councillor for Cultural Affairs, Albert Gunzer, wastherefore on hand to give a speech. This literary competition has been broadcast live on 3sat for 20 years and nothing comparable in its nature exists in the current world of television. "There is no other event that reaches such a large audience." Gunzer said.
Klagenfurt and the Bachmann Prize have indeed "entered into marriage," said presented Moor.
Albert Gunzer, the councillor in charge of cultural affairs, could therefore not get around holding a speech.
Literature needs Events and Publicity
ORF/3sat coordinator Reinhard Scolik made a comparison between football and literature. "Just imagine the European Football Championship without any television broadcasts of its games. What good would ever come of it? In the best case scenario, a good football match that nobody watches."
It is a similar situation with literature. Literature too needs its own events and a large audience. "What would literature be, if it were not listened to by people and if nobody read it? Television is a quite appropriate "ally of literature," Skolik explained.
"14 littérateurs are competing against 7 jury members and we from 3sat are pleased to be able to broadcast the competition live". Let us be your twelfth man, says Scolik.
Literature Speech as an Event
This year there was also a musical side to the Klagenfurt Literature Speech. The speaker, Ilja Trojanow, did more than just tease the audience with riddles by entitling his speech "Begin the Beguine" but he also brought some music with him to Klagenfurt. And, of course, his text about the possibilities of beginning or, in the author's own words, "Beginnings - what they consist of and what they are actually about."
The "performance" centred upon Cole Porter's composition "Begin the beguine" from the Broadway Musical "Jubilee." Initially a flop in 1935, three years later Artie Shaw's version of the song topped the Billboard charts for six weeks in a row. Later on, the jazz musician, clarinettist and band leader uttered the following frustration about his greatest commercial hit. "All they ever wanted to hear was Begin the Beguine."
In the same spirit, the author of "The Collector of Worlds" discussed various versions of this song in his speech, starting with the version by Django Reinhard then going on to Ella Fitzgerald's and finally that of Julio Iglesias. He then tied them together with the love story between the composer and the librettist of the musical "Jubilee."
Video: Klagenfurt Speech on Literature
Recording of 26th June
The speech was quite literary in nature and the audience was enthralled by it. With regard to the literary competition itself, the text was a reminder of the fact that "recognition seldom occurs as it does in one's dreams" and no beginning is alike. In this light, the motto for this year's competition could very well be "try again, fail again, fail better."
After the event, people rushed to the buffet, which was sponsored by Telekom Austria.
Exciting till the End: the Reading Order
Following the official opening speech and the Literature Speech, lots were drawn to determine the reading order for the authors during the next two days,