Hans Magnus Enzensberger

Survival Artists - 99 Literary Vignettes from the 20th Century

With 99 images
(German title: Überlebenskünstler)
ca. 366 pages
Hans Magnus Enzensberger
Foto: Hans Magnus Enzensberger
© Jürgen Bauer

» […] one of Germany's leading public intellectualsLondon Review of Books

Hans Magnus Enzensberger was born in Kaufbeuren in 1929. As a poet, essayist, writer, publisher and translator, he is one of the world’s most influential and internationally renowned German intellectuals.

Awards (selection):
Sonningprisen 2010
Premio d’Annunzio 2006
Premio Principe de Asturias 2002
Heinrich-Heine-Preis 1998
Erich-Maria-Remarque-Friedenspreis 1993
Heinrich Böll-Preis 1985
Büchner-Preis 1963
Deutscher Kritikerpreis 1962

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France (Alma)

A subjective-historical revue


The 20th century was the heyday of writers who had survived state terror and purges with all the ethical and political ambivalences that this entailed. How did they manage to do that? Were they too steadfast to bend to the powers that be? Did they owe their survival to their foresight, their intelligence or sharpness, their belief in themselves, their connections or their tactical skill? Was it serendipitous circumstances bordering on a miracle that helped them escape from prison, camps and death, or was it strategies that spanned from ingratiation to disguise? If only it was possible to make a clear-cut distinction!

In 99 pointed, deliberately subjective portraits, Hans Magnus Enzensberger describes the lives and particular survival strategies of international writers, but also the objective reasons for which they managed to survive the 20th century, the »Age of Violence«. Despite the seemingly overwhelmingly powerful opponent of thoroughly formed societies and authoritarian, death-or-glory governments. That we could learn from this in our present situation is not, according to the author, out of the question.


»Enzensberger shares the various strategies authors employed to make it through the 20th century and in so doing has produced a portrait gallery of that most ideological of centuries.« DIE WELT

» ... a hymn of praise to literature, which at the same time avoids an elevated, pathos-laden tone. The number of those the reader will recognise is enormous. ... What an homage, what a book!« Deutschlandfunk Kultur

»His old instinct still works: Hans Magnus Enzensberger proves that the 20th century still has quite a few stories to tell.« DIE ZEIT

»This book is a gallery of authors, some addicted to the great man theory, some becoming great success stories, some flashy in the way of the parvenu, and some going to ruin in grinding poverty. But Enzensberger knows how to talk about all of these intellectual heavyweights from first-hand experience.« Frankfurter Rundschau

» ... but this unpretentiously presented gossip, this seemingly casually relayed dance of anecdotes is a lot more enthralling and exciting than a whole shelf of scholarly secondary literature.« Nürnberger Nachrichten

»A little notebook bearing precious literary fruit, quotes and anecdotes from which you can also learn a thing or two about the present.« Huffington Post

»No doubt about it, Enzensberger’s book of vignettes is a great literary seducer.« Augsburger Allgemeine

»You can pick up this book again and again and always come away enriched – as well as inspired to read more.« Darmstädter Echo

»Next to Jürgen Habermas, Günter Grass, and Martin Walser, Enzensberger belongs to that generation of intellectuals – who continue to influence this country still – born in the 1920s, involved in the struggles of the 60s, the reinvention of the country in the decades to follow, the processing of the past, and the critique, then as now, of relationships … A German revolutionary who travelled the whole world and surprised both enemies and friends with constant changes of position – up through today.« DER SPIEGEL

Other publications

Immer das Geld!/Nothing but Money! (2015)

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Tumult/Tumult (2014)

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Verschwunden!/Gone! (2014)

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Herrn Zetts Betrachtungen, oder Brosamen, die er fallen ließ, aufgelesen von seinen Zuhörern/Mr. Zed’s Considerations or Crumbs That He Let Fall, Gleaned From His Listeners (2013)

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Enzensbergers Panoptikum/Enzensberger’s Panoptikum (2012)

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Sanftes Monster Brüssel oder Die Entmündigung Europas/Tender Monster Brussels or the Disenfranchisement of Europe (2011)

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Album/Album (2010)

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Meine Lieblings-Flops, gefolgt von einem Ideen-Magazin/My Favourite Flops, followed by a wealth of ideas (2010)

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Fortuna und Kalkül/Fortuna and Probability (2009)

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Hammerstein oder Der Eigensinn/Hammerstein or Idiosyncrasy (2008)

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Im Irrgarten der Intelligenz/The Labyrinth of Intelligence (2007)

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Schreckens Männer/Terror's Men (2006)

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Josefine und ich/Josefine and I (2006)

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Die Geschichte der Wolken/The History of the Clouds (2003)

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Die Elixiere der Wissenschaft/The Elixirs of Science (2002)

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Zickzack/Zigzag (1999)

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