Academic journal article German Quarterly

Tagebücher 2002-2012

Academic journal article German Quarterly

Tagebücher 2002-2012

Article excerpt

Raddatz, Fritz J. Tagebücher 2002-2012. Reinbek: Rowohlt, 2014. 718 pp. i24.95 (hardcover).

The last decade has seen an outpouring of autobiographical writing from individuals who dominated the German literary scene from the early 1960s to the late 1980s: Günter Grass's autobiographicaltrilogy,BeimHäutenderZwiebel(2006),DieBox(2008),andGrimmsWörter (2010), Christa Wolf's Ein Tag im Jahr (2010), and a veritable flow from the publisher-cum-newspaper-editor-cum-journalist-cum-TV-commentator-cum-author, Fritz J. Raddatz.Afterhis496-pagememoir,DerUnruhestifter(2003),camethefirst939-pageinstalment of his diaries, Tagebücher 1982-2001, in 2010. This in turn yielded a further abridged pictorial version in 2011, Die Tagebücher in Bildern. Now the second major instalment of his 30-yeardiaryprojectprovidestheavidRaddatzreaderwithafurther693pagesofanecdoteand polemic around the mid-to-late twentieth-century German literary scene.

Does the world need more Raddatz? Read as personal testimonial, these pages repeat much of Raddatz's first volume of diaries. The earlier entries already documented how a life in literature equates to a life of garden parties, ceremonial events, TV appearances, public newspaper exchanges, and mutual personal visits between a small, intimately connected group of individuals. It is vain, often petty, and always unrelentingly masculine. Raddatz is every bit as muchaproductofthisindustryasoneofitskeycritics,giventoflightsofpomposityandintrospection.Thiswasevidentinthefirstvolumeandcontinuesintheever-shrinkingcirclesofthe second, as friends and enemies alike begin to die off around him.

The difference between the two volumes is not principally one of tone, nor of content; it is a fundamental difference of position. The group that was at the centre of the German literary industry in the later decades of the twentieth century is gradually having to cede its place- though few of them actively acknowledge this. As befits the mode of "old-age style" that has been much discussed in literary studies of the last decade, both Raddatz and the core group of aging literati around him-notably Walter Kempowski, Günter Grass, Paul Wunderlich, Joachim Kaiser, and Rolf Hochhuth-are increasingly at odds with the contemporary moment.Theyusetheirremainingenergiestoclingontothemediamachineandsqueezethelast from their considerable political capital, making themselves fairly miserable in the process. Raddatz both partially recognizes this, and partially enacts it himself. …

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