Durs Grünbein

On Snow or Descartes in Germany

Durs Grünbein
Foto: Durs Grünbein
© Jürgen Bauer

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)

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


On Snow or Descartes in Germany is many things: a picture puzzle; entertainment in verse form, homage to the coldest time of the year, and the theory of the refraction of light. A report on the terrors of the Thirty Years' War, and the birth of Rationalism from the spirit of snow.

Durs Grünbein spent several winters committed to it and this one poem, whose 42 cantos correspond to the chapters of a novel, is now complete. Vom Schnee (On Snow) revolves around that moment in the life of René Descartes, when in the winter of 1619 in a small town in southern Germany he obeyed a vision, and began to philosophize. The narrative poem ends in another winter, 30 years later, with the philospher's sudden death. In consecutive scenes the youth and later years of this great thinker on the threshold to the Modern age are reflected in each other as if obeying the sequence of a dream.

Other publications

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

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), Hungary (Jelenkor - published, rights reverted)