Jury not in agreement about Preisendörfer

Bruno Preisendörfer opened the afternoon readings of the first day with ‘Fifty Blues’. The text polarised the jury like no other and opinions were extremely divided: ‘A good sign!’, according to presenter Clarissa Stadler.

A question of perspective

God, clown or psychoanalyst? Until the very end, the jury was unable to agree from which perspective the story is told. There was no agreement about the quality of the text either.

There were thus a number of levels to the discussion: on the one hand, regarding the use of linguistic tools, and on the other, regarding the philosophical-psychological components of the text.

Paul Jandl (Bild: ORF/Johannes Puch)Paul Jandl (Bild: ORF/Johannes Puch)

The perspectives get in each other’s way

‘This text is at the mercy of three literary dangers: God, a clown and a 50th birthday  - I am not sure how the three fit together’, said Paul Jandl, who initiated the discussion. The perspectives, he believes, are getting in each other’s way, the chosen topic  - the 50th birthday  - is ‘banal’. What’s more, Jandl saw ‘too many linguistic symbols, somewhat over the top’.

‘An excellent and witty text’

Meike Feßmann immediately tried to defend the text and expressed her joy over its linguistic craftsmanship: she emphasised the ‘wit’ and the story’s ‘plot devices’: a constant change between close-up and long-shot perspective, between God, the clown and the psychoanalyst. The ‘disgust of the inner perspective’ of the 50-year old analyst finally leads to the ‘fantastic idea’ of ‘zooming out’ as much as possible. She, too, was sceptical to begin with, but the text is ‘outstandingly crafted’.

Meike Feßmann, Alain Claude Sulzer, Karin Fleischanderl (Bild: ORF/Johannes Puch)Meike Feßmann, Alain Claude Sulzer, Karin Fleischanderl (Bild: ORF/Johannes Puch)

A text that gives the reader a lot of space

Alain Claude Sulzer saw it in  similar fashion: God, for him, can also be understood as the auctorial narrator of the story. Despite ‘initial difficulties’, he likes the text better and better. ‘It meanders a little’ – but the text is a good entry and “leaves the reader a lot of space”.

Spinnen: ‘I have heard it a hundred times’

Burkhard Spinnen countered: ‘I have read the story of a dear, dim-witted God hundreds of times. The existential problems of a man who has just turned 50 can, however, indeed be crushing. I am familiar with these blues – but for me the psychoanalyst is not the main driving force – I felt much worse’, said Spinnen. The additional perspective, he believes, does not expand space. Feßmann retorts: ‘The man is not suffering  as a result of his age, he is suffering as a result of the state the world is in”, To which Spinnen succinctly noted: ‘When you turn 50, you will realise that the two are identical’.

Bruno Preisendörfer (Bild: ORF/Johannes Puch)Bruno Preisendörfer (Bild: ORF/Johannes Puch)

Planet races through the cosmos in disorder

The author from Berlin was invited by Ijoma Mangold, who said: ‘It is a text about the difficulty of generating meaning, about a planet that races through a cosmos in disorder. The juror emphasised that Preisendörfer’s ‘metaphysical and burlesque’ elements pinpoint the ‘moral blues’ of a 50-year old who fails in the face of ‘a lack of meaning in the world’.

‘A joke from yesteryear’

These positive words did little or nothing for Karin Fleischanderl. ‘It’s full of gimmicks and clichés’. The psychoanalyst, she believes, is a ‘joke from yesteryear’. Crudely written, the text is ‘pure cynicism’.

Hildegard E. Keller (Bild: ORF/Johannes Puch)Hildegard E. Keller (Bild: ORF/Johannes Puch)

Hildegard Elisabeth Keller was ‘baffled’ by her colleagues’ deep understanding, and then said: ‘Turning the religious character of God into a literary one has a long tradition in America - the text polarises!’, said Keller.



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