Writing after Hitler: The Work of Jakov Lind

By Andrea Hammel; Silke Hassler et al. | Go to book overview

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Unsentimental Journeys:
The Literary Career of Jakov Lind

STELLA ROSENFELD

IN a discussion of Peter Handke’s novel Die Hornissen (1966: The Hornets), Jakov Lind sparked a controversy by contending that the younger generation of German authors had nothing to say (Lind 1966:385). This remark rattled more than a few of the spirits at whom Lind’s anger was aimed, and an entire issue of Akzente (no. 5, 1966), in which writers addressed Lind’s charge, either directly or indirectly, was devoted to the question. Peter Handke himself accused Lind of merely venting pent-up aggression against the young writers and charged him, in turn, with continuing the literary tradition of those past generations that Lind, and others like him, were supposedly rejecting. Handke also chided Lind for holding that in his literary creations a writer should give expression to his commitments and that literature should make a statement. He maintained that he himself was not at all interested in so-called reality: ‘When I write, I am interested only in language … When I write, reality only distracts me and makes everything impure … I write about myself (Handke 1966: 467). In a letter of 28 March 1967, also printed in Akzente, Lind once more criticized all those writers who were devoted to saying nothing (‘Nichtssager’) and were merely playing word games: ‘To write poorly only out of a childish joy in offending the audience, for instance, is a mania, a frivolous stupidity’; and he restated his conviction that anyone ‘writing in German who does not say what’s what with the German soul … whoever, in German, does not say it, does not want to say it, has nothing to say’ (Lind 1967:347).

Certainly, Jakov Lind also writes of himself, both in autobiographical works and in his fiction. Not only has he written three full-length autobiographies, Counting My Steps (1969), Numbers

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