Literature in Translation
“I judge a translator by his questions”

In the spring of 2015 Martin Walser’s novel “A Gushing Fountain” (“Ein springender Brunnen”) was published in the United States in translation by David Dollenmayer. In a video interview, the author talks about the collaboration with the translators of his works, the perception of his novels abroad and his dealing with the past and old age.

Transcript: Interview with Martin Walser (pdf)

Martin Walser’s novel Ein springender Brunnen (A Gushing Fountain) was published in 1998 in Germany. In the book Walser describes the childhood and youth of the boy Johann, who is five years old as the story opens. The plot begins in 1932, in the Swabian village of Wasserburg am Bodensee, Walser’s birthplace. The novel describes authentically the circumstance of people living under Nazism and the beginning of the Second World War in the village on Lake Constance.

Critics have taxed Walser for not mentioning the Nazis’ persecution and murder of Jews in his novel. The book stirred up a public debate on the question of playing down Nazi crimes and Walser’s chosen narrative perspective of the unknowing, unincriminated child and adolescent.