Christoph Hein

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The Brothers Grimm Poetics Professorship at Kassel University was entrusted to the writer Christoph Hein in 2002. With the engagement of Christoph Hein, the Department of German Studies, with the support of the Kasseler Sparkasse, once again succeeded in attracting one of the great names from the world of literature to Kassel.

Image: Per Johansson (Wikimedia Commons; CC0 License)
Christoph Hein (Gothenburg 2005)

With more than ten plays, numerous novels and short stories, Hein, who was born in Silesia in 1944 and grew up near Leipzig, has become one of the most important producers of contemporary literature. When he was awarded the Heinrich Mann Prize, the GDR's most prestigious literary prize, by the Academy of Arts in 1982, he was still largely unknown in West Germany. With Schlötel oder Was solls, however, his first play was staged in Berlin as early as 1974. Often published after a long delay and performed with only moderate success in the GDR, there were hardly any theaters in the Federal Republic that included his plays in their repertoire.

With his literature and his political appearance, he became an important figure of the GDR's transition period. His 1985/86 comedy Die Ritter der Tafelrunde (West German premiere at the Kassel Staatstheater) became the most-performed play in the crumbling GDR in 1989/90, although Hein always denied that he had written a play about the GDR's leadership clique. It is more likely a burlesque play about communities that block themselves through ritualized thought and action. The role of the intellectual and his place in a historical environment are recurrent themes in Christoph Hein's work, as in his first important novel Horns Ende (Horn's End), published in 1985, again after some delays.

GPP event series with Christoph Hein

Hein offered three events in the Eulensaal of the Murhardsche und Landesbibliothek in Kassel from January 23 to 25:

On Jan. 23 at 7 p.m., he spoke on "Literature and Imprinting. Prerequisites of my work." On January 24 at 4 p.m. he held a seminar at the same venue, and on January 25 at 7 p.m. a reading.

Prizes and awards (selection):

  • 1982 Heinrich Mann Prize of the Academy of Arts of the GDR
  • 1983 German Critics Prize
  • 1989 Lessing Prize of the GDR
  • 1990 Erich Fried Prize
  • 1992 Berlin Literature Prize
  • 1994 Federal Cross of Merit
  • 2000 Solothurn Literature Prize
  • 2002 Austrian State Prize for European Literature
  • 2003 Calwer Hermann Hesse Scholarship
  • 2004 Schiller Memorial Prize
  • 2008 Walter Hasenclever Literature Prize
  • 2010 Eichendorff Literature Prize
  • 2013 International Stefan Heym Prize