A virtual book club discussion of Tyll (2017 / 2020) by Daniel Kehlmann, translated by Ross Benjamin.
Read and discuss works by contemporary German authors in this series hosted by the Goethe-Institut. All books can be read in recent English translation or in the German original; our discussion will be in English. Led by local German professor Amanda Sheffer
(The Catholic University of America), this book club focuses on contemporary fiction and will explore experiences and thoughts about the text.
In cooperation with the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures at the Catholic University of America.
Please Note: In order to participate in the online discussion (carried out over Zoom), registrants must obtain access to the novel on their own. Hard copies of the novel can be ordered through multiple vendors online; the eBook is also available for download to Kindle, iPad, and other digital reading platforms.
Tyll by Daniel Kehlmann (2017, English translation by Ross Benjamin published in 2020)
He’s a trickster, a player, a jester. His handshake’s like a pact with the devil, his smile like a crack in the clouds; he’s watching you now and he’s gone when you turn. Tyll Ulenspiegel is here!
In a village like every other village in Germany, a scrawny boy balances on a rope between two trees. He’s practising. He practises by the mill, by the blacksmiths; he practises in the forest at night, where the Cold Woman whispers and goblins roam. When he comes out, he will never be the same.
Tyll will escape the ordinary villages. In the mines he will defy death. On the battlefield he will run faster than cannonballs. In the courts he will trick the heads of state. As a travelling entertainer, his journey will take him across the land and into the heart of a never-ending war.
A prince’s doomed acceptance of the Bohemian throne has European armies lurching brutally for dominion and now the Winter King casts a sunless pall. Between the quests of fat counts, witch-hunters and scheming queens, Tyll dances his mocking fugue; exposing the folly of kings and the wisdom of fools.
With macabre humour and moving humanity, Daniel Kehlmann lifts this legend from medieval German folklore and enters him on the stage of the Thirty Years’ War. When citizens become the playthings of politics and puppetry, Tyll, in his demonic grace and his thirst for freedom, is the very spirit of rebellion – a cork in water, a laugh in the dark, a hero for all time.
(Source: Quercus Books - Hachette Book Group)
was born in Munich in 1975 and lives in Vienna, Berlin, and New York. He has published six novels: Measuring the World
, Me & Kaminski
, You Should Have Left
and has won numerous prizes, including the Candide Prize, the Literature Prize of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, the Doderer Prize, The Kleist Prize, the WELT Literature Prize, and the Thomas Mann Prize. Measuring the World
was translated into more than forty languages and is one of the biggest successes in post-war German literature.
's translations include Friedrich Hölderlin’s Hyperion
(Archipelago Books, 2008), Kevin Vennemann’s Close to Jedenew
(Melville House, 2008), Joseph Roth's Job
(Archipelago, 2010), Clemens J. Setz's Indigo
(Liveright/Norton, 2014), and Daniel Kehlmann's You Should Have Left
(Pantheon, 2017) and Tyll
(Pantheon, 2020). He is currently at work on a translation of Franz Kafka's Complete Diaries
, to be published by Schocken Books. He is a 2015 Guggenheim Fellow. Benjamin's translation of Tyll
has been shortlisted for the 2020 International Booker Prize. He was awarded the 2010 Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator's Prize for his rendering of Michael Maar's Speak, Nabokov
(Verso Books, 2009), a 2012 National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship to translate Clemens J. Setz's The Frequencies
, and a commendation from the judges of the 2012 Schlegel-Tieck Prize for his translation of Thomas Pletzinger's Funeral for a Dog
(W.W. Norton & Company, 2011). His literary criticism has appeared in The Times Literary Supplement, Bookforum, The Nation, and other publications. He was a 2003–2004 Fulbright Scholar in Berlin and is a graduate of Vassar College.
Discussion of Kehlmann's novel will take place via Zoom on Tuesday, November 10, at 6:30 pm EDT / 5:30 pm CST. Please RSVP via Eventbrite in order to receive discussion prompts and the Zoom invite link. Discussion prompts from moderator Dr. Amanda Sheffer will be emailed to all participants RSVP'd via Eventbrite in advance of the discussion. The Zoom invite and additional directions/tips for accessing the Zoom discussion will be emailed to all participants no less than 48 hours before the discussion begins. The discussion will take place in English.