Durs Grünbein

The Cartesian Diver - Three Meditations

(German title: Der cartesische Taucher)
ca. 143 pages
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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English world rights (Upper West Side Philosophers), Sweden (Ersatz)


René Descartes’ most ambitious project was his expansive oeuvre Le Monde. His intention: to weave all the divided strands of knowledge into a fabric that is so dense that it allows you to explain everything under the sun.

What attracts the poet Grünbein to this Cartesian universe is not the triumph of sober rationality. It is the dreamlike quality of this dream project that fascinates him, the fantasy element behind the abstract terms, the speculative flight of fancy that Descartes ventures on over his scientific hypotheses – in brief, the deliberate conjuring up of images and spinning of yarns beyond all method.

In his epic novel on Descartes (Vom Schnee, 2003) Durs Grünbein presented a charmingly poetic version of the topic. A narrative essay composed of three meditations develops into an apologia for one of the most-hated philosophers. Simultaneously, the origin of the modern poetic self is expressed as the antithesis of the heliocentric view of life.

Other publications

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), Hungary (Jelenkor - published, rights reverted)