The opening in the ORF Theatre

On Wednesday evening, at the same time as Germany played Ghana, the “Festival of German-Language Literature” was introduced with the music of the “Karl Heinz Miklin Trio”, one of Austria’s oldest jazz ensembles, in the ORF Theatre.

Opening of the 34th Festival of German-Language Literature
Klagenfurt Address on Literature


And once again it was literature versus football

Presenter Clarissa Stadler welcomed the guests in the ORF Theatre to the 34th successful Bachmann Prize while at the same time keeping the football fans in the audience up to date at irregular intervals with information about the World Cup match. The speeches that evening, however, given the unfolding of such dramatic events as the oil catastrophe off the coast of Louisiana, were also marked by deep seriousness.

Clarissa Stadler (Bild: Johannes Puch)Clarissa Stadler (Bild: Johannes Puch)

“The best literary criticism that we have”

“The Bachmann Prize is the best literary criticism that we have”, said Clarissa Stadler, citing Kathrin Passig. “In particular, it is the transparent, crystal-clear decision-making and awarding of the prizes, and the discussions that make the competition so successful after so many years.”

The competition, according to Stadler, is not to be understood as recommended reading or purchase recommendation, rather, it reflects what we can “expect” nowadays of authors, jurors and critics. She then gave the floor to ORF’s host, regional director Willy Haslitzer, who welcomed the “Bachmann Prize family” and representatives from politics and the media. Among them a grande dame of politics, Freda Meissner-Blau.

Haslitzer bei der EröffnungHaslitzer bei der Eröffnung


For the first time: “Public Viewing” at Lendhafen

Willy Haslitzer alluded to the “Public Viewing” at Lendhafen taking place for the first time, which is also where “a certain H.C. Artmann used to hang around”. He then mention the ominous disappearance of the “Bachmann deck chairs” that had been positioned around town.


Literature: the attempt to interpret our existence

“Some of the deck chairs with the sun quote by Ingeborg Bachmanns have already disappeared without a trace – why don’t you please wait until after the FGLL before taking them”, was the tongue-in-cheek request by the regional director, and then, on a more serious note, he asked about the significance of literature in a world marked by catastrophe. His answer: literature is the attempt to find ways to “interpret our existence“, to turn inside out “the inner world of the outer world of the inner world”, as it were.


Advice for the authors: “Don’t fib”

And Haslitzer had some advice for the authors: “Don’t fib, be authentic, even if that means that some questions have to remain unanswered.” As a Bachmann Prize participant they are already winners anyway, because the “Bachmannpreis goes Europe” project provides them with a Europe-wide platform for their literature. Haslitzer believes that the theme of this year’s stage design by H.P. Maya, "Gespinste, Netzwerke", fits very well.


Sponsoring despite “serious savings”

Then Haslitzer together with Harald Kogler and Wolfgang Edelmüller – who had come to Klagenfurt to represent Gottwald Kranebitter – welcomed the representatives of the sponsors “Hypo Alpe Adria” and “Kelag”.

Despite serious savings, Hypo decided to continue to support the “Bachmann Prize” project, Edelmüller said.

“The Bachmann Prize sponsoring is one of the good things that the new management came upon” – only to then come out as an avid reader himself.


Prizes and prize benefactors 2010

Kogler, Haslitzer udn Edelmueller bei der EröffnungKogler, Haslitzer udn Edelmueller bei der Eröffnung


Book gift for FGLL organiser

On the eve of the opening, in line with several years of tradition, Haslitzer presented the organiser of the FGLL with one of his first editions: “Auf freiem Fuß” [At large] by Gernot Wolfgruber.


Monschein und Haslitzer bei der Eröffnung (Bild: Johannes Puch)Monschein und Haslitzer bei der Eröffnung (Bild: Johannes Puch)


Klagenfurt is once again the “capital of literature”

City councillor Albert Gunzer was delighted that Klagenfurt was once again the “capital of literature” in the German-speaking world: “Literature educates, reveals and is critical.” Which is why, despite a policy of savings, the city will continue to support the competition.

“In any case, we will not punish the deck chair theft”, said Gunzer, and he wished everyone “exciting literary days in Klagenfurt”.


Nowak Hubert_3sat (Bild: Joahnnes Puch)Nowak Hubert_3sat (Bild: Joahnnes Puch)

3sat: amplifier, mouthpiece and carrier

The Bachmann Prize also lives up to 3sat’s long-standing history, said Hubert Novak, managing editor of 3sat – only to leave the lectern and give the floor to “the powerfully eloquent”, because “failure has to be developed in a powerfully eloquent way”. For many years, 3sat has acted as “amplifier, mouthpiece and carrier”.


Apocalyptic speech by Wolfgang Lorenz

The what we might call apocalyptic speech by Wolfgang Lorenz caused a stir. He broached the critical situation of the ORF as “organisation, as broadcasting organisation”. Today we find ourselves in a “community of survival rather than of symbiosis”, young people “drop out”, “are always already fed up” and prefer to surf the Net every day to “let off steam”.

Society, he believes, is in a “state of dissolution” – and art? “Whether art can be of help, I am not sure – I believe in it, but less and less so”, said Lorenz, and then speculated: “Perhaps we no longer exist and nobody has told us yet.”


Lorenz: “Feel as an elite”

The authors of the FGLL 2010 should feel as an “elite” – an idea which has been abolished in the belief that democracy and elite are irreconcilable. However, said Lorenz: “This is a fatal error”, an error that is responsible for the appalling state that society, politics and democracy are in. “Let us try not to forget entirely how to read and write – it might help us in the future.”

“I thought you were talking about sex and tits – not about the end of the world” – Clarissa Stadler rose to speak only to give the floor to Sibylle Lewitscharoff and her “Klagenfurt Address on Literature”. 


Sibylle Lewitscharoff (Bild: Johannes Puch)Sibylle Lewitscharoff (Bild: Johannes Puch)


Authors, “specialists in defeat”

“Über die Niederlage” [on defeat]  is the title of the speech by Sibylle Lewitscharoff, which had been kept a secret and thus been eagerly awaited until the last moment: the author compared the defeats, “modest” (copyright: Thomas Bernhard) in historical terms, suffered by some Bachmann authors (quite a few of which have now produced “a decent body of work”, as the Klagenfurt speaker emphasised) with the fates of those that Lewitscharoff called “specialists in defeat”: Job and Jesus Christ.

However, Lewitscharoff continued: “If from kindergarten onwards, all you hear is the kind of tepid encouragement that everything is creative and good, whatever you might paint, doodle, prattle, then even the milder forms of rebuke in Klagenfurt will sound harsh.”

And soon afterwards Lewitscharoff drew a parallel between art, or rather literature and religion, and she concluded: literature and its protagonists, the authors, as “chimera artists”, are generally to be found on the side of defeat.

The speaker’s advice for the authors of the 2010 competition, in view of the criticism from the jury that they were about to face, was to adopt an “attitude of composed humility”, as a “being with oneself”.

11th Klagenfurt Address on Literature
Sibylle Lewitscharoff

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New jury member: Hubert Winkels

Clarissa Stadler introduced the jury and its new member: this year, Hubert Winkels will follow in the footsteps of Ijoma Mangold.


Burkhard Spinnen (Bild: Johannes Puch)Burkhard Spinnen (Bild: Johannes Puch)

Spinnen: “Real-time has started”

In his opening speech, jury chairman Burkhard Spinnen analysed the television audience of the Bachmann Prize and concluded that literature does not address a “special interest group”, but rather, it addresses everyone. It is, he said, “a major – in the sense of a great – minority”, which broadcasting cannot do without, even in the future. “Genuine television” does not serve up surrogates, it presents the thing itself.

“Here, every gesture, every word, is identical with itself. So, switch on: real-time has started”.

As Spinnen expressed these “words of caution”, outside the ORF Theatre the score was 1:0 for Germany. Inside the ORF Theatre, the order of this year’s readings was determined, followed by the traditional Kelag garden party.


The order of the readings


Kelag_Gartenfest (Bild: Johannes Puch)Kelag_Gartenfest (Bild: Johannes Puch)