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Goethe Book Club: The Weight of Things by Marianne Fritz

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Goethe-Institut Washington

1990 K Street Northwest

#03 (Entrance on 20th St. Lower Level)

Washington, DC 20006

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Read and discuss works by contemporary German authors in this series hosted by the Goethe-Institut Washington in partnership with the D.C. Public Library. All books can be read in recent English translation, as the German original is out of print and very difficult to find; our discussion will be in English. Led by local German professor Amanda Sheffer (The Catholic University of America), this book club focuses on contemporary fiction and will explore experiences and thoughts about the text.

The Weight of Things (Die Schwerkraft der Verhältnisse, published originally in 1978) by Marianne Fritz

The Weight of Things
is the first book, the first translated book, and possibly the only translatable book by Austrian writer Marianne Fritz (1948–2007). For, after winning acclaim with this novel, which was awarded the Robert Walser Prize in 1978, she embarked on a 10,000-page literary project called The Fortress, which she worked over the rest of her life, creating elaborate colorful diagrams and typescripts so complicated that her publisher had to print them straight from her original documents. A project as brilliant as it is ambitious and as bizarre as it is brilliant, it earned her cult status, comparisons to James Joyce and Henry Darger, and admirers including Elfriede Jelinek and W. G. Sebald.

Yet in this, her first novel, we discover not an eccentric fluke of literary nature but rather a brilliant and masterful satirist, philosophically minded yet raging with anger and wit, who under the guise of a domestic horror story manages to expose the hypocrisy and deep abiding cruelties running parallel, over time, through society and the individual minds of a century.

Marianne Fritz (1948–2007) was an Austrian novelist. Her first book, The Weight of Things, marked the beginning of an ambitious cycle of novels with the overarching title of Die Festung, or The Fortress, comprising Das Kind der Gewalt und die Sterne der Romani, Dessen Sprache du nicht verstehst, and the gargantuan Naturgemäß, the third volume of which she was preparing at the time of her death.

A few copies of the English translation of the novel are available to borrow at the Goethe-Institut Washington; please check for availability ahead of picking up a copy. The book can also be obtained online via most major book vendors, or checked out through the D.C. Public Library system.

In cooperation with the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures at The Catholic University of America and D.C. Public Library.

Keywords: German literature, Austrian literature, German books, Austrian books, book clubs, book discussions, book conversations, foreign language

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Goethe-Institut Washington

1990 K Street Northwest

#03 (Entrance on 20th St. Lower Level)

Washington, DC 20006

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