Durs Grünbein

From the Dream (Files) - Essays and Notes

With illustrations
(German title: Aus der Traum (Kartei))
ca. 573 pages
Durs Grünbein
Foto: Durs Grünbein
© Tineke de Lange

Durs Grünbein, born 1962 in Dresden, lives in Berlin.

Awards (Selection):

Peter-Huchel-Prize (1995)
Georg-Büchner-Prize (1995)
Friedrich Nietzsche-Prize (2004)
Tomas-Tränströmer-Prize (2012)

Rights available

A philosophical-poetic arc of prose, poems, and photographs


The title of a book of poetry could not be any more provocative, and still the poet allows no room for doubt: »In general, that which we call reality is greatly overestimated.« Therefore, with all the power of his imagination, in the first half of his book he leads us into the stormy areas of that reality which most people consider the measure of all things.

The discrepancy between reality and dream is visible in the world-historical experience of the collapse of a state, the GDR, and the metamorphoses of that society up through today. Examining the binaries of freedom and solidarity on the one hand, hate and division, Germany and Europe, on the other, in the second half of his book the author develops his idea of resistance to the fetishization of crude reality through imagination. In addition, where do dream and reality lie closer together than in art?

In the third section, the author turns to those poets and philosophers whose aesthetics and ideas have sharpened his own. The arc spans from the ancient world to the present, from Ovid to Pascal, from Descartes to Celan.

Durs Grünbein’s latest book is a collection of writings of various genres connected by leitmotifs: essays, reflections, dream fragments, lectures, spoken text and poems. Their very existence is due to the poet’s unique way of working. Using the files he keeps of the key words he employs in his work, he has created a special kind of record, one that proves productive on every page.


»In Grünbein’s third major essay collection the poet and the essayist come together in a new way both spatially and stylistically. Though the texts are testimonies of precise readings, they also originate from the author’s self-exploration.« Bastian Reinert, Der Tagesspiegel

»By relinquishing himself to the informal, all claims of being able to control the world, as science and technology purport it, fade away and thus the way for a casual, open-minded style of writing is paved.« Eberhard Geisler, Frankfurter Rundschau

»Grünbein is versed in cultural history and immensely skilled in exposing what is aesthetically valuable.« Florian Bissig, NZZ am Sonntag

»Grünbein’s ›lost and found‹-texts represent precision, urgency and a high level of politisation. It’s good to know they have been wrested from the files.« Hendrik Werner, Weser-Kurier

»Durs Grünbein’s new volume of essays, From the Dream (Files), is a treasure chest for readers who appreciate literature that is both contemporary and aware of tradition.« Tomas Gärtner, Dresdner Neueste Nachrichten

»Durs Grünbein’s exceptional linguistic virtuosity, already revealed in the title, is delectable.« Lebensart im Norden

»Only few are able to write about literature without […] becoming egocentric. When Grünbein writing about poetry sounds itself like a poem.« Veronika Schuchter, Die Furche

»Durs Grünbein effortlessly manages to capture his readers […] with these essays.« SAX Literatur

Other publications

Zündkerzen/Spark Plugs (2017)

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Italy (selection; Einaudi)

Der cartesische Taucher/The Cartesian Diver (2008)

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English world rights (Upper West Side Philosophers), Sweden (Ersatz)

Porzellan/Porcelain (2005)

Rights available

Vom Schnee oder Descartes in Deutschland/On Snow or Descartes in Germany (2003)

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Italy (Einaudi), Sweden (Ersatz), Greece (Keedros)

Erklärte Nacht/Declared Night (2002)

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Italy (Einaudi), Hungary (Jelenkor)

Das erste Jahr/The First Year (2001)

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Italy (Einaudi)

Nach den Satiren/After the Satires (1999)

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France (Petits Matins), Czech Republic (Opus), previously published in the respective language / territory; rights available again: Hungary (Jelenkor)