- 1,477 ratings
- January 1st 1980
by Suhrkamp Verlag
(first published 1951)
- Date of birth: June 23, 1906
- Died: March 15, 1996
- Born: in Greifswald, Germany.
- Description: Wolfgang Arthur Reinhold Koeppen (June 23, 1906 – March 15, 1996) was a German novelist and one of the best known German authors of the post-war period.
Koeppen was born out of wedlock in Greifswald, Pomerania to Marie Köppen, a seamstress who also worked as a prompter at the Greifswald theater. He did not have contact with his father, ophthalmologist Reinhold Halben, who never formally accepted the fatherhood. In 1920, Koeppen left Greifswald permanently, and after 20 years of moving about, settled in Munich, living there the remainder of his life.
He started out as a journalist. In 1934 his first novel appeared while he was in the Netherlands. In 1947, Koeppen received a book contract to rewrite the memoirs of the philatelist and Holocaust survivor Jakob Littner (born 1883 in Budapest, died 1950 in New York City). The resulting novel caused some controversy based on whether Koeppen was given a written manuscript to guide his work on Littner, and the novel never sold well. In 1992, a new edition was published, which led to the discovery of Littner's original text. In 2000, Littner's original manuscript was published in English and in 2002, in German.
In 1951, Koeppen had published his novel Tauben im Gras (Pigeons on the Grass), which utilized a stream of consciousness literary technique and is considered a significant work of German-language literature by Germany's foremost literary critic Marcel Reich-Ranicki. "Das Treibhaus" (1953) was translated into English as "The Hothouse" (2001) and was named a Notable Book by the "New York Times" and one of the Best Books of the Year by the "Los Angeles Times." Koeppen's last major novel Der Tod in Rom (Death in Rome) was published in 1954. In the ensuing years, Koeppen found it difficult to complete longer works.
Between 1962 and 1987, Koeppen received numerous literary prizes in the Federal Republic of Germany. In 1962 he was awarded the Georg Büchner Prize.