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Ludwig Hohl

The Notes - or Of the Unpremature Reconciliation

Ludwig Hohl
Foto: Ludwig Hohl

Ludwig Hohl was born in Nestal, Switzerland in 1904. He spent his twenties in Paris, Vienna and The Hague. In 1937, he returned to Biel, then moved to Geneva where he lived in a basement apartment and worked as a writer, initially publishing in newspapers only. Even though Hohl was highly esteemed by his peers, writers such as Friedrich Dürrenmatt, Max Frisch and Peter Handke, he lived most of his life in relative obscurity, tasting success only in the last decade of his life, when he won, among other awards such as the Prize of the Schweizer Schillerstiftung in 1970 and 1976, the Robert Walser Centenary Prize in 1978. He is best known for his 831-page magnum opus Die Notizen (The Notes). He died in Geneva in 1980, in the same year in which he received the Petrarca-Prize.

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English world rights (Yale University Press), France (Editions L'Age d'Homme – published, rights reverted), Italy (Marcos y Marcos – published, rights reverted), Netherlands (De Prom – published, rights reverted), Japan (Koyoshobo), Hungary (Bookart), Bulgaria (Europa), Czech Republic (Opus)

»Hohl is necessary, we are accidental. We document the human, Hohl determines it.«
Friedrich Dürrenmatt

About

The Notes – the work of a »Montaigne of our time« – were written between 1934 and 1936, three years during which Hohl lived in the Netherlands in »greatest spiritual solitude«. Despite the short period of time in which the collection was written, it is a sum of his whole life and thinking.

The public always considered Ludwig Hohl a stranger. It was only very late that they tried to make up for what had been missed: in 1978, Hohl was presented with the most important prizes for his works, the Robert Walser Centenary Prize, followed by the Petrarca-Prize in 1980. The power of Hohl’s work is a consequence of the intensity of Hohl’s approach to everything he said and thought. But above all, it is the process of thinking, which is made transparent with this volume, the kind of thinking that Hohl perceived as work.

»A work, perceived of thirty years ago, before the Second World War, or, dated in a literary fashion: before Kafka broke out, before many a shift within the classics, before the posthumous coronation of Wittgenstein, before linguistic experiments that are now part of the compulsory curriculum of an averagely gifted person and before the declaration of ›texts‹; as such not a prophetic work, therefore not posthumously-relevant because the course of time has confirmed it, but as virulent now as it was decades ago and readable as if it had just been created, remotely contemporary, ›un-famed‹ but available, linguistically acute; I think, this is class.« Max Frisch

Praise

»Ludwig Hohl’s work, like almost no other these days, can be picked up and read without prerequisite or compromise. It’s as outrageous as it is self-evident. It doesn’t have to be discovered, recommended or be made accessible by interpretation, but is available freely to be read, like a human piece of writing belonging to nature and giving it a soul in the first place.« Peter Handke

»[Hohl] was a voyeur where the nuances and shivers of sensitivity are concerned. Hohl experienced physical and psychological phenomena as endlessly fragmented. With disillusioned qualms, he assembled these fragments to a mosaic of language that is of extraordinary clarity.« George Steiner

»Hohl is a great discovery, an unjustly neglected author.« Susan Bernofsky

»Swiss writer Ludwig Hohl is always good for a pointed and surprising observation. His work reveals countless idiosyncratic notes, among them maxims, parables, small portraits, sketches: the forms often merge into one another.« Martin Zingg, Neue Zürcher Zeitung am Sonntag

Other publications

Aus der Tiefsee. Paris 1926/From the Deep Sea (2004)

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France (Nouvel Attila), Netherlands (Leesmagazijn)

Bergfahrt/Ascent (1975)

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USA/Canada (Black Square), Spanish world rights (Minuscula – published, rights reverted), France (Nouvel Attila), Italy (Marcos y Marcos – published, rights reverted), Russia (Raduga – published, rights reverted), Netherlands (Leesmagazijn), Hungary (Bookart)

Bergfahrt/Ascent (1975)

Sold to:

USA/Canada (Black Square), Spanish world rights (Minuscula – published, rights reverted), France (Nouvel Attila), Italy (Marcos y Marcos – published, rights reverted), Russia (Raduga – published, rights reverted), Netherlands (Leesmagazijn), Hungary (Bookart)

Nuancen und Details/Nuances and Details (1975)

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Spanish world rights (DVD Ediciones – published, rights reverted), France (Editions de L'Aire – published, rights reverted)

Nächtlicher Weg/Nocturnal Path (1971)

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Spanish world rights (Minuscula – published, rights reverted), France (Editions L'Age d'Homme – published, rights reverted), Italy (Marcos y Marcos – published, rights reverted), Netherlands (Leesmagazijn)