Read professors every day

In this new series we introduce people from campus and their reading.

12.2019 / University & Society / Karla Götz

The office of literature professor Axel Dunker is - as expected - full of books. But in front of him on the table in his room in GW2 he has a single copy. Wrapped in thick and green. Peter Kurzck: "The previous summer and the summer before". It is part of the huge narrative cycle "The Old Century" by the Hessian author who died in 2013. And it was published posthumously in 2019. And Professor Dunker's current favorite book.

Tell to remember

“Light, south, landscape, the language is unique,” ​​enthuses the Germanist from Bremen. In the novel, meticulous snapshots from the Frankfurt district of Bockenheim near the university and from summer trips to southern France. The latter is a declared area of ​​longing for Professor Dunker. “Peter Kurzck tells in order to remember, in order to preserve. In the book it's the early 1980s, everything with a strong biographical touch. “The style? "Objects develop a life of their own, every detail is precisely described," he enthuses. A melancholy, fed by separations from loved ones, hangs over the story.

Page-99 test

At Dunker's suggestion, we do the famous Page 99 test, which the English writer Ford Madox Ford “invented”. Open a book to page 99 and the quality will be evident. “In Barjac the rainbow. Hitchhiked to them in June, Sibylle, Carina and me. Needed four days. On small and ever smaller streets from village to village. ”Not a word too many, elliptical abbreviations, followed by lists in staccato alternate. There is no question that the up2date editor immediately stormed the university bookstore on the boulevard after the conversation and bought the book. Since then, no more television in the evening.

"Incredible prose"

The Hamburg writer Andreas Maier speaks in his review in the Frankfurter Rundschau of “Incredible prose. Worthy of a Büchner Prize every year. ”Literature professor Axel Dunker met Peter Kurzck personally. “After a conference in Flensburg I invited him to Bremen for a reading. Then we sat down here in the neighborhood at Café Engel, ”he says. “We talked extensively about Arno Schmidt and I recorded the conversation.” Readings with Peter Kurzck were indescribable in general. "He first read, then spoke freely, that was fascinating," says Dunker of his favorite author. “He had a very unique way of never dropping his voice at the end of a sentence.” This flow of complex perceptions, where one merges into the other, also characterizes the books.

With enthusiasm and passion

But you need a lot of time to read the 600-page summer book. Do people still have time to read? Professor Dunker's students, for example? “The relationship to reading has not changed compared to earlier times,” the Germanist is convinced. “There are quite a number of students who are enthusiastic and passionate about it.” However, due to the proof of performance that must be provided after each event, they hardly have time to read freely. "Robert Musil's" Man without Qualities "with several thousand pages can no longer be dealt with." In contrast, he only recently discussed Uwe Johnson's four-volume work "Anniversaries" with a dedicated course.

There is no vacation without a book

For Professor Dunker himself, reading is a basic need. ". I need good, complex literature and read every day privately and professionally. They merge into one another. ”A three-week vacation would not be one without literature. Not even in the south of France.

More about the book:

Peter Kurzck, “The previous summer and the summer before that”

Direct link to the publisher Schöffling & Co.

Who has a book recommendation that they do not want to withhold from other people interested in reading? It can be fiction, but non-fiction books are also interesting. A message to the up2date editorial team at [email protected] is enough and we will come by for an interview.