Genius amateur

Upon re-reading, I find Joseph Roht’s work quite uneven in artistic quality. What other novels by Roht do you think were not successful? – Günter Herrmann from Heilbronn raised the question.

Marcel Reich-Ranicki: Only the amateur and the incompetent continually produce work on the same level. Gifted or even genius not only writing what they were able to, but trying to write something they never even tried. Doing that may fail the new one. There are also weak plays in Shakespeare, or, indeed, more immature plays, both in Balzac where his novels are exhausted and in Tolstoy’s boring chapters, and in Thomas Mann’s disappointing short stories.

Joseph Roht’s whole life was dependent on the income from his writing activities. He writes out a lot of things very quickly, almost without editing and sending them to the editor, and that must lead to the fact that the fluctuations in the level of a piece of his work are often difficult to erase and sometimes large, yes. , to the point of being annoying. Those who force themselves to write serialized novels for the newspaper (and this Dostojewskij did) and who, subject to poverty, often print the first chapters of their novels right before the end of the manuscript. book, he already knows what consequences that will bring.

Of course among the many novels of Joseph Roht there are also some that are more or less unsuccessful. But in these novels there is generally enough to make reading a pleasure. At first, in the interlaced miniatures, the poetic impressions, witty presentations, and tragic episodes often stand apart from the actual action of the novel.

And yet Roht never intruded on the naturalness of his tone. He loves soft colors and hard strokes. In dialogues that are often very wordless, the decisiveness is expressed through pauses: The hero’s silence has endless nuances of expression. He loved grace much more than weight. He was an avid analyst and a disciplined gossiper. Through a lifetime of boredom, he created masterful works of cuteness..

In the history of literature does the poet Paul Celan value what place does not deserve him? asked Ute Layßner.

Marcel Reich-Ranicki: You must want to know in my opinion whether the famous poet Paul Celan, who lived from 1920 to late April 1970, is either overrated or underrated. Unfortunately I have to disappoint her, because my answer is: I don’t know that.

One thing is for sure: Many people who are familiar with German poetry consider Celan the most important German poet of the post-World War II era. But in poetry there is little unity. Judgments about Stefan George are polarizing, yes even about Hölderlin or Heine. And this is even more true for Celan.

It was earlier agreed that his most famous poem „ Tu Khuc of Death “ was also the best and most famous poem in German after 1945. I do not wish to express my opinion on the supernatural. this work. I can’t judge that at all. Because I don’t know of any other verses from an entire era about Hitler that have moved me more deeply than those about the German Job Boss Death of the German tradesman with blue eyes / with a lead bullet shoot me, hit me.” But I do not want to hide, there are poems by Celan that I do not understand at all or only partially, and others that, although I believe I understand, yet they are still strange to me.

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