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Hans Erich Nossack

Give Me a Sign of Life Again Soon - Correspondence 1943–1956

Two volumes | Edited by Gabriele Söhling
Hans Erich Nossack
Foto: Hans Erich Nossack
© Suhrkamp Verlag

Hans Erich Nossack was born in Hamburg in 1901, and much of his writing was shaped by his relationship to his native city, where he died in 1977. His work was banned by the Nazi regime and most of his manuscripts were destroyed by the allied bombing of Hamburg in 1943. Hailed by Jean-Paul Sartre as one of the great German existentialist novelists, Hans Erich Nossack has long been considered a major writer throughout Europe. His essays, poems, plays and novels, including To The Unknown Hero, The d’Arthes Case and The Impossible Proof, won him Europe’s most important literary prizes, including the Büchner Prize in 1961.

Awards and Prizes:
1957: Ehrengabe des Kulturkreises im Bundesverband der Deutschen Industrie
1961: Georg Büchner Prize
1963: Wilhelm Raabe Prize
1973: Pour le Mérite (civil class)
1973: Alexander Zinn Prize
1974: Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (Great Cross of Merit with Star)

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About

On the occasion of Hans Erich Nossack’s 100th birthday, Suhrkamp published a selection of his correspondence from the years between 1943 and 1956 that shows Nossack as an important correspondent in conversation with Hermann Kasack, Peter Suhrkamp, Hans H. König, Ernst Kreuder, Peter Huchel, Joseph Breitbach and others.

The correspondence contained in this volume sets in after »the end« of Hamburg, described by Nossack in the eponymous novel. In light of the wartime events, the letters from the years between 1943 and 1945 are often a sign of life, of survival. The ensuing intense exchange of letters in the early post-war years, carried on by Nossack with unusual personal openness, is shaped by the battle with the hardships of everyday life, but is also informed by the spirit of optimism and the hope for an intellectual-political new beginning. With the long-awaited breakthrough as a writer, the circle of addressees begins to broaden after the late 1940s; against the backdrop of the cultural and economic years of reconstruction in West Germany, Nossack appears as a recognised writer who participates actively in literary life.

The conclusion of this collection is marked by the biographical caesura of the year 1956 – transitioning to Suhrkamp for good, giving up his father’s company and leaving Hamburg. After the earlier publication of the Diaries 1943 – 1977, this edition puts Nossack‘s letters in equal place with his literary oeuvre.

Other publications

Dem unbekannten Sieger/To the Unknown Hero (1969)

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Poland (PIW); previously published in the respective language / territory; rights available again: USA (FSG), UK (Alcove Press), Spanish world rights (Monte Avila), Finland (Gummerus), Japan (Shinchosha)

Der Fall d'Arthez/The d'Arthes Case (1968)

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Previously published in the respective language / territory; rights available again: English world rights (FSG), Spanish world rights (Seix Barral), Russia (Progress), Denmark (Samlerens), Norway (Gyldendal Norsk), Poland (Czytelnik), Hungary (Europa), Bulgaria (Narodna Kultura), Romania / Republic of Moldova (Univers), Latvia (Liesma)

Der Untergang/The End (1961)

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English world rights (Chicago UP), Sweden (Faethon), Greece (Skarifima); previously published in the respective language / territory; rights available again: Spanish world rights (La Una Rota), Italy (Il Mulino), Netherlands (De Bezige Bij), Czech Republic (Staatsverlag für schöne Literatur), Hungary (Magvetö)

Unmögliche Beweisaufnahme/The Impossible Proof (1959)

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Netherlands (Uitgeverij Oevers); previously published in the respective language / territory; rights available again: USA (FSG), UK (Barrie & Rockliff), Spanish world rights (Monte Avila), Italy (Il Mandarino), Denmark (Grafisk), Sweden (Norstedt), Japan (Hakusuisha), Czech Republic (Ceskoslovensky Spisovatel), South Africa (Afrikaans Pers Boekhandel)

Spätestens im November/Wait for November (1955)

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Previously published in the respective language / territory; rights available again: English world rights (Fromm), Spanish world rights (Seix Barral), France (Gallimard), Italy (Feltrinelli), Sweden (Norstedt), Finland (Gummerus), Korea (Munhakdongne), Japan (Hakusuisha), Poland (Czytelnik), Czech Republic (Odeon), Slovakia (Slovensky Spisovatel), Romania / Republic of Moldova (Univers), Lithuania (Vaga), Croatia (Naprijed)

Nekyia/An Offering for the Dead (1947)

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Russia (AST); previously published in the respective language / territory; rights available again: USA (Eridanos), France (Gallimard)