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Literary Criticism


 

Exhibition Catalogues

 
At my workplace, the Luxembourgian National literary archives, we are regularly hosting interesting exhibitions on all things literary and Luxembourgish. Since 2012, I have co-curated two major exhibitions with accompanying catalogues.
 

Korrekturspuren / Traces de correction

Sandra Schmit: Literarische Familienpolitik. Emil Schaus und sein "Traum vom Kinde". In: Claude D. Conter (Ed.): Korrekturspuren. Textmetamorphosen = Traces de correction. Textes en métamorphose. Mersch: Centre national de littérature, 2015. ISBN 978-2-919903-43-6. p 188-209.
 
This is our newest exhibition catalogue, about the evolution of a text from rough sketch to manuscript to published book. The exhibition was shown in the Literary Archives from 15.10.2015 to 30.09.2016. If you would like to buy a copy of this lavishly illustrated book, you can do so in our online shop.
 
I contributed with a detailed study on Emile Schaus' novel Lisa Timesch, explaining why it took the author 40 years (from 1939 to 1979) to complete this work. The article is in German, and you can read it here. Otherwise, you might also like to have a look at the pictures from our opening night here.
 

 
 

Die Widmung / La dédicace

Die Widmung. Von der Vielfalt handschriftlicher und gedruckter Widmungen in Büchern / La dédicace. De la diversité des envois et dédicaces dans les livres. Mersch: Centre national de littérature, 2013. ISBN 978-2-919903-36-8. 255 p.
 
This richly illustrated book accompanies the exhibition Widmungsbücher / Livres dédicacés, shown at the Centre national de littérature from 29 November 2013 until 2 May 2014. 37 articles in German or French introduce the reader to as many books dedicated by their authors to friends or acquaintances. Twenty-two Luxembourgish literary researchers contributed to the book, which spans the breadth of Luxembourgish literature, from a 1856 theatre play by Edmond de la Fontaine to a 1997 poetry book by José Ensch.
 
I contributed two articles on a novel by Cingiz Aitmatov, dedicated to Rosemarie Kieffer, and on a book by Fernand Hoffmann containing a mysterious Latin dedication to someone called Toto. To see an excerpt from the book, click here. To read the two articles in their entirety, click on the name of the respective author above. The articles are both in German. The book costs €35 and can be purchased in our online shop.
 

 

Satirische Literatur in Luxemburg

 
Satirische Literatur in Luxemburg. Vum Eilespill an anere Kregéiler. Katalog: Claude D. Conter, Sandra Schmit, Pascal Seil. Ausstellung: 24.05.2012 - 25.01.2013. Mersch: Centre national de littérature, 2012. ISBN 978-2-919903-27-6. 251 p.
 
The exhibition catalogue, written in German, takes a look at 170 years of literary satire in Luxembourg. To guide the reader through the vast corpus of texts available, the curators have focussed on four important topics of the genre, namely the Church, the monarchy, society in general and politics. In the first four chapters, these themes are discussed by means of several exemplary texts each: Edmond de la Fontaine's poem RoRoRo about a memorable exorcism from 1842, Norbert Jacques' novel Die Limmburger Flöte (1929), in which the protagonist makes an art out of farting the national anthem, Roger Manderscheid's controversial TV documentary Stille Tage in Luxemburg (1972) or the political cabaret D'Huwwelbänk, who in 1974 managed to influence the national elections, to name only a few. The last chapter analyses the rhetorical figures and literary traditions which are common to such different works as 19th-century political poems, 1920s cabaret songs and modern-day blogs.
 
The catalogue contains five lengthy articles as well as exhaustive descriptions of all the exhibits, many of them pictured. Click here to read an excerpt from the chapter on church satire or have a look at some exhibits. The catalogue costs €25 and can be purchased in our online shop.
 

 

Reeditions of Luxembourgish Classics

 
Working as a literary researcher at the Centre national de littérature, I've published two commented and annotated reeditions of Luxembourgish classic works.
 

Im Zeichen der Flamme

 
Marie-Louise Tidick-Ulveling: Im Zeichen der Flamme. Vorgestellt und kommentiert von Sandra Schmit. Mersch: Centre national de littérature, 2010. ISBN 978-2-919903-18-4. 214 p.
 
Im Zeichen der Flamme [In the sign of the flame] is a novel about the witch hunts in Luxembourg during the Thirty Years' War. In the early 17th century, some of the worst witch hunts in Europe took place in the region around Luxembourg and Trier. Marie-Louise Tidick-Ulveling recounts this dark era of Luxembourgish history in her novel, which was written in German in 1961. At the same time, the novel takes a critical view of life in early 20th century Luxembourg. Inspired by works such as Arthur Miller's The Crucible, she discusses religious and political fanaticism, wide-spread superstition and a lack of courage and empathy among the powerful. Fifty years after it was written, the problems discussed in the novel have not lost any of their topicality.
 
The commentary, in German, gives an introduction to the life of the author and to the social and political reality of Luxembourg in the early 20th century. Here you can read an excerpt from the commentary. The book costs €15 and can be purchased in our online shop.
 
Click here to read the script of the lecture which I gave in 2011 about the book. [in Luxembourgish].
 

 

Prairieblummen

 
Nicolas Gonner: Prairieblummen. Eng Sammlonk fu Lidder a Gedichter an onserer létzebûrgerdeitscher Sprôch. Virgestallt a kommentéiert vum Sandra Schmit. Mersch: Centre national de littérature, 2008. ISBN 978-2-919903-10-8. 292 p.
 
In the 19th century, Luxembourg was a poor country and many people left to seek their fortune in America. Prairieblummen [Prairie flowers] is a poetry collection in the Luxembourgish language, which was published in 1883 in Dubuque, Iowa, by three Luxembourgish emigrants, namely Nicolas Gonner, Nicolas Becker and Jean-Baptiste Nau. The poems deal with such varied topics as religion, every-day life, the emigrants' longing for home as well as legends and tales from Luxembourg and abroad.
 
The commentary, in German, gives an introduction to the life and culture of the Luxembourgish diaspora in the United States during the late 19th century. Here you can read an excerpt from the commentary. Click here to read the script of the lecture which I gave in 2008 about the book. [so far, unfortunately only in Luxembourgish]. The book costs €15 and can be purchased in our online shop.
 
During my research for the book, the Luxembourg American Cultural Society helped me with original pictures and information about the local lore. There is a lot of interest in these poems among the Luxembourg-American community, though hardly any of them still speak the language of their ancestors. So I tried to repay their kindness by translating the poems into English. You can read them on my Prairie Flowers page. And the English version of the poetry book, including a lengthy commentary with a lot of background information is now also available in book form! It costs €15 and can be purchased in our online shop.
 
The topic of Luxembourg emigration to the US keeps generating interest, both in Luxembourg and the US. In 2015, the Roots and Leaves Assocation published a book on the subject, and they asked me to contribute, once again, with an article on Gonner and his friends. I was happy to oblige. Below you find the reference for their book, and you can read my article (in English) here.
 
Sandra Schmit: A wat e Lëtzebuerger ass, dee wäert seng Sprooch och schwätzen. Early Luxembourg Emigration Literature in the United States of America. In: Roots and Leaves Association (Ed.): Luxembourg ˗ America. 19th, 20th an 21st centuries. Luxembourg: Brain&More, 2015. ISBN 978-99959-941-0-5. p 156-162.
 

 

Articles on Luxembourgish Literature

 

Object of the Month

 
Every month, the Literary Archives present a unique object from our vast collections in a display case in the entrance lobby. This object can be a manuscript, a diary or even an author's private typewriter! Each researcher working at CNL contributes with an article every 12 months or so, so the list of my contributions just keeps growing! Check out the complete series on the Literary Archives homepage, each and every one of the objects is well worth it!
 
The newest articles are published every two years in our Fundstücke / Trouvailles yearbook. Here's the complete list of my own contributions, with a link to the articles.
 
December 2016 ˗ E kuerze Bléck op d'Kuren an der Lëtzebuerger Literatur ˗ not yet published. [in Luxembourgish, about the pitfalls of going to a spa, as described in Luxembourg literature]
December 2015 ˗ Um die Einsamkeit. Die Gedanken eines Luxemburger Geologen in Anatolien. In: Fundstücke / Trouvailles 2014/2015. p. 258-259. [in German, about a Luxembourgish geologist's thoughts in Eastern Anatolia, in the early 20th century]
March 2015 ˗ Batty Webers Theaterstück 'Der Lasso'. Die Wiederauffindung des verschollenen Originals. In: Fundstücke / Trouvailles 2014/2015. p. 240-241. [in German, about a lost theatre play by famous Luxembourg playwright Batty Weber]
February 2014 ˗ L'album de poésie de Rosemarie Kieffer. In: Fundstücke / Trouvailles 2014/2015. p 214-215. [in French, about the Luxembourg poetess Rosemarie Kieffer's autograph book during her school years in the 1940s]
February 2013 ˗ Lichtreklamen von Joseph-Émile Muller. In: Fundstücke / Trouvailles 2012/2013. p 196-197. [in German, about a poem by Luxembourg art critic J.-E. Muller, which he wrote in his youth]
 

 

Schriftsteller-Testamente

 
Hiermit bestimme ich... Wie Schriftsteller-Testamente die Arbeit in Literaturarchiven beeinflussen. In: Les archives et la protection des données personnelles. Les clivages entre législation, recherche et travail archivistique. Actes de la 4e Journée des archivistes luxembourgeois 2014. Luxembourg: Archives nationales, 2015. ISBN 978-2-919773-13-8. p 103-109.
 
This is an article about the Luxembourgish author and literary critic Rosemarie Kieffer. It takes an appraising look at her last will concerning her correspondence and manuscripts. This leads to a discussion about the responsibility of archives to both preserve an author's legacy and respect their wishes of privacy and "the right to be forgotten". The text was originally presented in Luxembourgish at the 4th Luxembourg Archivists' Day in Luxembourg City. You can look at the pictures from the Archivists' Day and read the German text in its entirety.
 

 

Le fonds L-57 Rosemarie Kieffer

 
Le fonds L-57 Rosemarie Kieffer. In: Fundstücke / Trouvailles. Mersch: Centre national de littérature, 2014. ISSN 2354-5194. p 242-243.
 
 
This text was published in the first biennial journal of the Luxembourg Literary Archives, where I work. It explains how our archives obtained some of the papers of the late Luxembourgish writer Rosemarie Kieffer. As well as an introduction to the author's work, I present some interesting personal belongings from her Nachlass. You can read the article here.
 

 

IVG Internationaler Germanistenkongress in Warsaw, Poland

 
Luxemburgische Literatur im Amerika des 19. Jahrhunderts. In: Luxemburgistik im Spannungsfeld von Mehrsprachigkeit, Regionalität, Nationalität und Internationalität. Frankfurt a.M.: P. Lang, 2012. p 127-131.
 
In 2010, I presented a paper on Luxembourgish literature in 19th century America at the IVG Internationaler Germanistenkongress in Warsaw, Poland. It was basically a short synopsis of my research into the three Luxembourg-American authors of the poetry book Prairieblummen. You can read the article here (1) (2) (3) and have a look at the pictures of me in Poland here.
 

 

Der Ferge

 
Der Ferge. Fehlgeburt einer luxemburgischen Literaturzeitschrift. In: Aufbrüche und Vermittlungen. Beiträge zur Luxemburger und europäischen Literatur- und Kulturgeschichte. Bielefeld: Aisthesis, 2010. ISBN 978-3-89528-824-1. p 557-574.
 
This is an article about a Luxembourgish literary journal that was lovingly planned, but never published. The would-be editor was an eager young student called Joseph-Émile Muller, who later became a reknowned art critic. In 1929, he took up contact with a lot of young German authors, some of whom would later become quite well-known, like Günter Eich, Martin Raschke and Fritz Diettrich. Muller's ambitions were great, but inexperience, financial obstacles and the economic depression of the early 1930s prevented the birth of his brainchild. The correspondance between the authors gives interesting insights into the Luxembourgish and German literary scene in the late 1920s.
 
Here you can read the article in its entirety.
 

 

Luxemburger Autorenlexikon

 
Luxemburger Autorenlexikon. Hrsg. von Germaine Goetzinger und Claude D. Conter, zusammen mit Gast Mannes, Pierre Marson, Roger Muller, Nicole Sahl, Sandra Schmit und Frank Wilhelm. Mersch: Centre national de littérature, 2007. ISBN 978-2-919903-06-1. 687 p. [in German]
 
Dictionnaire des auteurs luxembourgeois. Édité par Germaine Goetzinger et Claude D. Conter en collaboration avec Gast Mannes, Pierre Marson, Roger Muller, Nicole Sahl, Sandra Schmit et Frank Wilhelm. Mersch: Centre national de littérature, 2010. ISBN 978-2-919903-20-7. 697 p. [in French]
 
After almost ten years of work, the Centre national de littérature published in 2007 the first comprehensive lexicon detailing the biography and bibliography of every Luxembourgish literary writer since 1815. Two years later, a French edition of the book was released. Both volumes have quickly become standard reference books for researchers and the general public alike.
 
As of late 2011, a regularly updated online-version is available in both German and French.
 

 

Die Hochöfen sind verstummt

 
Die Hochöfen sind verstummt. Rote Träume und Teufelsfratzen: Esch im literarischen Wandel. In: 100 Joer Esch 1906-2006. Luxembourg: Binsfeld, 2005. ISBN 2-87954-149-2. p 214-225.
 
 
This article, in German, gives an overview of the literary life in the second largest town of Luxembourg, Esch/Alzette. The anthology in which it appeared was published in 2006, in honour of the centenary of the industrial town. Here you can read the article in its entirety [without pictures], or click here to view an excerpt from the book.
 

 

Short Articles on Literature in Luxembourg

 
Liebe und Mitgefühl in Zeiten des Krieges. Über die kurze, aber intensive Schaffensperiode des Düdelinger Dichters Emil P. Graff. In: Die Warte. 12.05.2016. p 2-3. One more article for the cultural supplement of the Luxemburger Wort. It describes the work of a romantic young man who wrote love poems, a novel and a play, all before his 20th birthday. Then World War II broke out and he was forced to enlist. He died on the battlefield, shortly before his 22th birthday. None of his work was ever published, but his manuscripts are in our archives, and I was happy to introduce this fine young writer to the Luxembourgish readership.
 
***
 
Nach Amsterdam und zurück. Der neu entdeckte Nachlass von Isabelle Oberweis. In: Die Warte. 24.09.2015. p 2-3. This is an article I wrote for the cultural supplement of the Luxembourgish newspaper Luxemburger Wort. It relates the story of the Luxembourgish author Isabelle Oberweis, who lived for most of her life in the Netherlands. Through an unlikely series of lucky breaks, her manuscripts and letters have found their way back to Luxembourg, more than 20 years after her death.
 
***
 
Since 2003, I've made regular contributions on Luxembourgish literature in the regional magazine Am Äischdall, which changed its name to Regioun Lëtzebuerg West in 2008. I wrote the articles in Luxembourgish, German or French, depending on the main language of the author treated. Since 2008, all articles in the magazine are in German, with a translation in French.
 
Il y a cent ans à Koerich: les idées philosophiques d'Eugène Zoenen sur la Première Guerre mondiale. In: Regioun Lëtzebuerg West 13 (2015) p 26-27. [in German and French]. And the second page of the article.
 
D'Médche vu Götzen. In: Regioun Lëtzebuerg West 8 (Autumn 2011) p 26-27. [in German, French translation by Marc Angel. About the re-edition of the theatre play "D'Médche vu Götzen" by Max Goergen].
To see the accompanying poem and book cover, click here.
 
Im Werden und Wachsen. Nik Welters Merscher Jugenderinnerungen. In: Regioun Lëtzebuerg West 4 (Summer 2010) p 16-17. [in German, French translation by Marc Angel. About the Luxembourgish writer and politician Nik Welter]
 
Luxemburger Wichtelsagen in den USA. In: Regioun Lëtzebuerg West 3 (Spring 2010) p 17-18. [in German, French translation by Marc Angel. About the poetry collection Prairieblummen].
To read part two of the article, click here.
 
An der klaren Quelle. Ermesinde und Clairefontaine. In: Regioun Lëtzebuerg West 2 (Autumn 2009) p 34-35. [in German, French translation by Marc Angel. About the Medieval Countess Ermesinde of Luxembourg].
To read part two of the article, click here.
 
Yolanda und der Codex Mariendalensis. In: Regioun Lëtzebuerg West 1 (Summer 2009) p 30-32. [in German, French translation by Marc Angel. About a Medieval manuscript in an old Luxembourgish dialect].
To read part two of the article, click here.
 
Schrëftsteller aus dem Äischdall am neie "Luxemburger Autorenlexikon" (2). In: Am Äischdall 4 (Dec. 2007) p 4. [in Luxembourgish; a presentation of the local literary life and the newly-published lexicon of Luxembourgish authors, part two]
 
Schrëftsteller aus dem Äischdall am neie "Luxemburger Autorenlexikon" (1). In: Am Äischdall 3 (Sep. 2007) p 3. [in Luxembourgish; a presentation of the local literary life and the newly-published lexicon of Luxembourgish authors, part one]
 
Exildorf Mersch. Deutsch-jüdische Emigranten als Kulturbotschafter. In: Am Äischdall 2 (June 2007) p 4. [in German, about German-Jewish emigrants in Luxembourg during the 1930s and 1940s, especially about Ernst and Johanna Ising]
 
Eng bal vergiessen Hymn op den Äischdall. In: Am Äischdall 1 (March 2007) p 4. [in Luxembourgish, about a song by Luxembourgish writer Fränz Frising]
 
Dem Michel Rodange seng Käercher Zäit. In: Am Äischdall 4 (Dec. 2006) p 4. [in Luxembourgish, about the 19th century Luxembourgish writer Michel Rodange]
 
Le Conte de Creux Rocher et Beau Rocher. In: Am Äischdall 1 (March 2006) p 4. [in French, about a novel by Luxembourgish writer Roland Bisenius]
 
D'Koler Movies Lëtzebuerg. In: Am Äischdall 4 (Dec. 2005) p 4. [in Luxembourgish, about the local film makers Kohler Movies]
 
Von Morden und Dorfintrigen. Twin Peaks im Eischtal. In: Am Äischdall 3 (Aug. 2005) p 4. [in German, about a novel by Luxembourgish writer Anita Kayser]
 
De Sentier de la Vallée des Sept Châteaux. In: Am Äischdall 1 (March 2005) p 4. [in Luxembourgish, about the newly-inaugurated historical walk around the Valley of the Seven Castles]
 
Victor Hugo et le Château d'Ansembourg. In: Am Äischdall 3 (Sep. 2004) p 4. [in French, about Victor Hugo's stay in Luxembourg]
 
Abend mit Goldrand. Garnich in einem Meisterwerk der deutschen Literatur. In: Am Äischdall 2 (June 2004) p 4. [in German, about the German writer Arno Schmidt]
 
De Pir Kremer. In: Am Äischdall 1 (March 2004) p 4. [in Luxembourgish, about the Luxembourgish satirist Pir Kremer]
 
Amélie Picard, poétesse de Septfontaines. In: Am Äischdall 1 (Dec. 2003) p 4. [in French, about the Luxembourgish lyricist Amélie Picard]
 
***
 
Between 2009 and 2011, I had a column on contemporary Luxembourgish literature ("Neues aus Luxemburg") in the literary journal Die neueste Melusine, edited by the Literarische Gesellschaft Saar-Lor-Lux-Elsass in Saarbrücken. The column was in German.
 
Neues aus Luxemburg. In: Die neueste Melusine. 2011/1. p 23/24.
To read part two of the article, click here.
 
Neues aus Luxemburg. In: Die neueste Melusine. 2010/2. p 18/19.
 
Neues aus Luxemburg. In: Die neueste Melusine. 2010/1. p 12/13.
 
Neues aus Luxemburg. In: Die neueste Melusine. 2009/2. p 18/19.
 
***
 
In early 2008, I attended a conference on author's rights. The event was surreal, with the self-appointed "Luxembourg organisation for reproduction rights" - Luxorr for short - catering unashamedly for the needs of big corporations. The largest part of the conference consisted of telling the business leaders how to secure for themselves their employees' author's rights. Disgusted with Luxorr's hypocritical attitude, I felt compelled to write my first (and hopefully last) reader's article. I submitted it to several newspapers and the weekly Woxx was kind enough to publish it. My article doesn't change how copyrights and patents are used against the very people they claim to protect, namely the artists and the dissemination of their work. But as long as there still are new and delightfully creative videos on YouTube every day, I'll smile and enjoy.
 
En Owend am Tempel zu Luxorr. In: Woxx. 28.03.2008. p 5. [in Luxembourgish]
 

 

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