The Dimensions of Experimentation
What is great in man is that he is a bridge and not a goal: what is lovable in man is that he is an over-going and a down-going.
Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra
Serious German literature does not set out to entertain the reader. Indeed the Germans have the pejorative expression "entertainment literature." Instead of giving their readers a bit of fun, German writers have given them a great deal of instruction and Weltanschauung. It is no longer a joke to talk of German writers as authoritarians; it is no longer a joke to talk of German literature as demonstrating less humor than any other major West European literature. It is a fact. What is striking about contemporary German literature is that its perpetrators realize this fact — with a bit of help from the Austrians and, to a lesser extent, the Swiss. What is more, contemporary German writers are fighting, in their own German way, against this fact. The result is a cult of self-consciousness, a blush before the Muse(s) which sometimes does cover the scars, but sometimes seems to inflame them.
The age of Günther Grass, one-time literary enfant terrible, one-time sugar-daddy of politically undernourished students, part-time theorist, is past; the age of Uwe Johnson, personified West-is-better-than-East-myth, investigator of analytical realism, disjointer, is past; the age of Heinrich Boll, darling of the dashing bourgeois, darling of the social pseudocritical, constipated____________________