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Wolfgang Koeppen

Death In Rome - Novel

(German title: Werke in 16 Bänden)
ca. 253 pages
Clothbound
1954
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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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)

»A forgotten masterpiece.« Evening Standard

About

In 1954, Wolfgang Koeppen published Death In Rome, the conclusion of a series of novels that are regarded today as the critical inventory of the early years of the German Federal Republic. Death In Rome, not only in its title inspired by Thomas Mann's famous novella, depicts how fascism continues to exist in Germany in Koeppen's typically polyphonic style. It shows how the years of the Second World War, how the anti-Semitism continue to exist in all areas, from politics to culture, and determine the actions and attitudes of the protagonists.

Death In Rome, written with the distance of an ironic spirit and with the full force of a moralist simultaneously, is the story of a handful of people who meet in Rome after the War: victims, perpetrators, those who prepared and those who were born after the terror. Wolfgang Koeppen describes the hidden illnesses of the German soul in this novel with a critical analysis of the age he lived in: a work full of nightmarish, fascinating and liberating insights into life.

Praise

»A compelling and profound novel […] lucid and rich in images and illustrations.« New Statesman and Society

»Koeppen exuberant narrative […] darts between voices and tenses, and quickens and decelerates effortlessly between short, staccato blasts and torrential flows of feeling.« Sunday Telegraph

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/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)

Werke in 16 Bänden/A Sad Affair (1934)

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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)