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Wolfgang Koeppen

A Sad Affair - Novel

(German title: Werke in 16 Bänden)
ca. 258 pages
Clothbound
1934
Wolfgang Koeppen
Foto: Wolfgang Koeppen
© Isolde Ohlbaum

Wolfgang Koeppen was born on June 23rd, 1906 in Greifswald and died on March 15th, 1996 in Munich.

After spending eleven years in Ortelsburg (East Prussia), he returned to Greifswald in 1919. Due to financial reasons he had to leave grammar school and change to a lower secondary school, which he left without obtaining a diploma. After that, he dabbled in many different professions: he worked in a bookshop, and in Greifswald's city theatre. As a commis chef he went to Sweden and Finland; in Wurzburg he worked as a dramaturge. In 1927 he settled in Berlin, where he began to work as an editor at the Berliner Börsen-Courier in 1931. He stayed there for two years. He wrote reportages, for the feuilleton, and started on his first literary works.

His first novel, A Sad Affair, was published in 1934. That same year he emigrated to the Netherlands, which is where he began writing the novel The Jawang-Society, which was to remain unfinished. In 1935, the novel The Wall Is Shaking was published but hardly received any recognition. Koeppen returned to Germany in 1938, started working for the Bavaria Movie Corporation in 1941, and moved to Munich in 1945. He published Jacob Littner's Notes From A Ditch anonymously in 1948. He agreed to have the book appear under his name only in 1992.

In 1951, 1953 and 1954 three novels were published that are regarded as the most accurate description of the atmosphere of the republic under Konrad Adenauer: Pigeons on the grass, The Hothouse and Death In Rome. Koeppen's To Russia And Other Places, Travel To America and Journeys to France created high regard for travel literature in Germany.

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Previously published in the respective language / territory; rights available again: English world rights (W.W. Norton), France (Albin Michel), Norway (Bokvennen), Finland (Karisto)

About

A romantic roman à clef that tells the story of Sibylle, one of the greatest literary femmes fatales since Salomé.

A romance that anticipated Beat literature by nearly twenty years through its dizzying language and exploration of casual love, this is Koeppen's most hilarious work, one that evokes Mann's Tonio Kruger. Set during the heady, pre-World War II days of cabaret-era Germany, the novel centers around Sibylle – a stunning seductress who balances her love affairs with five men at once – and Friedrich, the callow, melancholic youth who obsessively pursues her. In a stranger-than-fiction turn, Sibylle Scholoss, on whom the character of Sibylle is (very) loosely based, is now in her nineties and living in Manhattan. This publication enables us to celebrate not only the extraordinary renaissance of one of Germany's greatest twentieth-century writers but also the meteoric stage career of a German actress whose career was thwarted in its prime. (book description from the English edition with W.W.Norton)

Praise

»Muscular elegant prose [...] Koeppen's writing is a revelation, dense with controlled, scathing anger and bitter insights.« The Times

»[This is] sentimental traveling without sentimentality, rambling journeys on the edge of happiness, at their most beautiful, most staggering when the futility of desire turns into humor, into an urge to play [...] Fantasy, swathed in spirituality.« Berliner Tageblatt

Other publications

Werke in 16 Bänden/Youth (2016)

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English world rights (Dalkey Archive), France (Hachette); previously published in the respective language / territory; rights available again: Russia (Progress), Netherlands (Querido), Japan (Dogakusha), Poland (Czytelnik), Czech Republic (Odeon), Bulgaria (Narodna Kultura)

Domestic Rights Sales: German Audiobook (Der Hörverlag)

Werke in 16 Bänden/Death In Rome (1954)

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English world rights (Granta / Penguin), Chinese simplex rights (Shanghai Lucidabooks), France (Typhon), Netherlands (Cossee), Macedonia (Ad Verbum); previously published in the respective language / territory; rights available again: Spanish world rights (RBA), Catalan rights (La Magrana), Russia (Progress), Italy (Zandonai), Norway (Bokvennen), Poland (PIW), Czech Republic (Academia), Slovakia (Slovensky Spisovatel), Hungary (Europa), Bulgaria (Narodna Kultura), Latvia (Liesma), Slovenia (Mladinska Knijga)

Werke in 16 Bänden/The Hothouse (1953)

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Chinese simplex rights (Shanghai Lucidabooks); previously published in the respective language / territory; rights available again: English world rights (W.W.Norton; UK sublicense: Granta), Spanish world rights (RBA), Russia (Progress), Netherlands (Thoth), Finland (Kirjaythymä), Poland (PIW), Czech Republic (Academia), Slovakia (Slovensky Spisovatel), Hungary (Europa), Latvia (Liesma)

Werke in 16 Bänden/Pigeons on the Grass (1951)

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USA (New Directions), Chinese simplex rights (Shanghai Lucidabooks), Serbia (Fabrika), Greece (Kritiki); previously published in the respective language / territory; rights available again: Spanish world rights (RBA), Russia (Progress), France (Laffont), Netherlands (Thoth), Norway (Bokvennen), Finland (Kirjayhtymä Oy), Czech Republic (Academia), Slovenia (PAN), Israel (Carmel)

Domestic Rights Sales: German Audiobook (DAV)