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Wiesenstein

A pact with power. An endearing and fallible literary genius.

An old man – famous, a Nobel Prize-winner – is leaving a sanatorium with his wife, where both have sought rest and relaxation. They are accompanied to their train by a military escort. It’s March 1945, Dr Weidner’s sanatorium is in the recently devastated city of Dresden, and the train is headed east. Gerhart and Margarete Hauptmann are travelling back to Silesia, to Villa Wiesenstein, a magnificent estate in the Sudeten mountains. There, amid the enchantingly beautiful countryside, with a masseur and maid, butler and gardener, cook and secretary, they plan to live a luxurious life of the mind, despite the barbarism beyond.

But was it the right decision? Should they have stayed in the Third Reich at all? And at what cost? Will they and their entourage be left undisturbed now that Germany is gradually losing the war, and Russian and Polish troops and militias are drawing inexorably nearer? Now that old Silesia is falling apart?

Grim and colourful, eventful and devastating, Hans Pleschinski’s new novel is about the great and brilliant Gerhart Hauptmann, about love and hope, despair and fear. About the end of war, the loss of homeland, and the exodus of refugees. Drawing on previously unknown diary entries, Pleschinski brings this lost world and the work of Gerhart Hauptmann vividly to life. An overwhelmingly powerful novel – a story of genius, misguided love, and of a world bracing itself against collapse.


Reviews

'The atmosphere before and after German capitulation in 1945 is so evidently and accurately described that I can only but marvel at it. Pleschinski has found an impressive language for the tragic as well as the grotesque. Wiesenstein as a focal point for the catastrophes in German history is a literary stroke of luck.'

'Hans Pleschinski is the historico-cultural cicerone among the German novelists.'

'[Pleschinski's] writing is simply spectacular.'

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Hans Pleschinski

born in 1956, is a freelance author living in Munich. His novels include Leichtes Licht (C.H. Beck, 2005), Ludwigshöhe (C.H. Beck, 2008) and Königsallee (C.H. Beck, 2013), which became a bestseller, and he has edited the letters of Madame de Pompadour, selections from the diary of Duke von Croÿ, and the memoirs of Else Sohn-Rethel. Most recently he has been awarded the Hannelore Greve Literature Prize (2006) and the Nicolas Born Prize (2008), among other honours, and in 2012 he was made a Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres by the Republic of France. In 2014 he was awarded the Literature Prize of the City of Munich and the Literature Prize of the Lower Rhein. Hans Pleschinski is a member of the Bavarian Academy of Arts.


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'A great epic novel displaying hope where there is grief and anger at the loss of an era, a landscape and a great writer.'

'After ‘Königsallee’, Hans Pleschinski has successfully delivered another phenomenal novel. A portrait of life, symbol of destiny and comprehensive historical work. Hans Pleschinski expertly tames the subject matter. He unfurls his far-reaching background knowledge with aplomb, seeming elegant and effortless, and yet after reading, ones own way of thinking is shaken in the light of something new, that is so wildly recounted here. Such writers, and it is again clear after reading this novel, have been in short supply for some time. In so doing, Pleschinski does not overstate himself when he talks of Thomas Mann and Gerhart Hauptmann as his peers.'

'A great artist novel. A great merit.'

'A fascinating novel […] ‘Wiesenstein’ is evocative especially of the lifeblood that is at all times necessary. And, in what is no mean feat, he leaves you wanting more of Gerhart Hauptmann. '

'No other German author has mastered the conversational mode – polyphonic, evocative, faintly ironic, full of hints and aperçus – as masterfully as Hans Pleschinski.'

'This novel is something special. It is a case of enthusiatic overpowering.'

'Hans Pleschinski, with his feeling for history and the springy, elegant style he owes to the French eighteenth century, is among our most genuinely cultured writers. '

'The novel, as tragic as it is fascinating, offers a history lesson full of incredible detail. '

'A lament to the downfall of old Silesia and German culture as a whole, a reflection on the role of literature in a dictatorship and also especially a plea for humanity towards refugees and those displaced, just as today […] A great epic on the downfall of an era, a territory and a great writer, that despite such sorrow and wretchedness, still contains some hope.'

'Hans Pleschinski makes great literature from the game of chance.'

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