At the end of his book on German literature of the 1970s, Helmut Böttiger thanks the “protagonists and connoisseurs” of the time with whom he had conversations. He names among others Klaus Wagenbach, Wilhelm Genazino, Peter Handke and Günter Grass. Böttiger's description of the 1970s is inspired by his personal closeness to the authors and co-creators of literature in that decade. The book is divided into chapters episodically. The author informs the reader about Christoph Meckel's relationship to his father, about the relationship between Ingeborg Bachmann and Paul Celan, the friendship between Sarah Kirsch and Christa Wolf, but also about books like Arno Schmidt's “Zettel's Traum”, Uwe Johnson's “Anniversaries” or Peter Weiss' "The Aesthetics of Resistance".
Böttiger's strength is the author's portrait, the characterization of the writer against the background of contemporary history, the difference between experience and expression.
He describes how Uwe Johnson processed the “pudding attack” of Commune 1 in his work “Anniversaries”.
Böttiger shows the difference between the image that literature conveys of the author and the real person.
He describes a reading by Jörg Fauser in 1977 in Weikersheim.
Fauser "looked like any other Sparkasse employee or insurance agent", his audience were "various long-haired men and women in batik dresses".
Helmut Böttiger, born in 1956, describes a time that he consciously perceived, during which his literary socialization took place.
More like a panorama
If he calls his book "The Years of True Sensation", one could assume that at the center of his work there is an aesthetic category, namely the "New Subjectivity". On the one hand, the title is based on Hubert Fichte's project "A History of Sensitivity", on the other hand, Böttiger makes the connection between private and collective past clear. The 1970s are a public decade for him, the "real feeling" is a political feeling. The split of Wagenbach Verlag and the associated emergence of Rotbuch Verlag are of great importance to him. At the end of his book he writes: “The seventies began in 1968, and they probably ended in 1981. At this point in time,“ Couples, Passers-by ”by Botho Strauss was published.“In the 1970s, Böttiger sees the continuity with the previous decade. So when he writes about Heiner Müller, Peter Weiss or Fritz Rudolf Fries, it is also about the life and work of these authors before the 1970s.
The subtitle of the book is: "The 70s - a wild golden age of German literature". Böttiger's access to the topic is intuitive, the collection of topics seems wild in itself. Forgotten authors like Manfred Esser or Jürgen Theobaldy stand next to Thomas Bernhard or Peter Handke, bookshops and event locations are mentioned that should only be known to contemporaries. The book is not a literary history, rather a panorama, a catalog, linear reading is not necessary, you can orientate yourself on the table of contents, read those chapters that are of interest. The volume is a collection of essays, each of which is worth reading.
However, the sum of the individual texts makes it difficult to get an overview of the German literature of the 1970s. The question often arises with regard to the found objects whether they are representative of the time. How Marcel Reich-Ranicki tries to get Peter Rühmkorf to win him over as an author for the FAZ, how Rühmkorf makes demands, refuses, but cannot evade the public, is an episode that can also be imagined at other times can. The relationship between Thomas Bernhard and Siegfried Unseld is vividly described by Helmut Böttiger, but it is not a phenomenon that breaks down the character of the 1970s. At Peter Weiss you can ask yourselfwhether his book "Abschied von den Eltern" (Farewell from Parents) from 1961 fits more into the 1970s than "The Aesthetics of Resistance" by addressing his private problems.
I would add authors who are important for subjective writing in the period chosen by Helmut Böttiger, for example Paul Nizon with his book “The Year of Love” from 1981, in which he describes his move to Paris.
Hartmut Geerken's "autopsy protocol" from 1975 is a mixture of found materials and direct self-statements, a combination of autobiography and quotation, whereby the quotations are relevant to the situation of the writing subject.
Jürgen Becker, Helmut Heißenbüttel, Friederike Mayröcker and Ernst Jandl are shifting their literary work from methodical work with the material of language to the direct articulation of experiences and emotions.
In 1977, Alexander Kluge published the volume “New Stories - Hefte 1–18”, in which more and more texts about his family can be found. The subtitle, "Eeriness of the Times", refers to the social mood of the 1970s. Herbert Achternbusch wrote books with “Die Alexanderschlacht” from 1971 and “The Hour of Death” from 1975 that focus on his private experiences. Ernst Jünger published the first two volumes of his diary project "Seventy Gone" in 1980 and 1981.
Böttiger also deals with the topic of inwardness, as in the text about the Swiss Fritz Zorn, who was actually called Fritz Angst and in his book "Mars", which appeared posthumously in 1977, attributed his own cancer to his family and cultural background.
A long chapter is devoted to Handke;
According to Böttiger, his book "Desireless Misfortune" about his mother's suicide is exemplary of the "New Subjectivity".Keywords: