Germany is characterised by its poets and thinkers. Those who want to follow in the footsteps of Goethe, Thomas Mann, and other famous figures can embark on a literary journey.
A goldsmith from Mainz invented something groundbreaking in the 15th century: Johannes Gutenberg discovered modern letterpress printing and paved the way for the worldwide distribution of books on a large scale. Even independently of this, Germany was simultaneously developing as a stronghold of literature thanks to world-renowned poets and thinkers. Alongside the great names of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Friedrich Schiller, and Thomas Mann, the Brothers Grimm wrote themselves into the hearts of their readers in the first half of the 19th century with their fairytales. A contemporary of the Brothers Grimm, Heinrich Heine, also attracted a great deal of attention with his satirical verse epic "Germany. A Winter's Tale". In it, he criticises the political rigidity of Germany in the first half of the 19th century, the time of the Restoration. Ten German authors have been awarded a Nobel Prize for Literature since the conception of the awards in 1901. Among them are famous names such as Thomas Mann, Hermann Hesse, Nelly Sachs, Heinrich Böll, Günter Grass and Herta Müller.
Goethe once drank here
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, one of the most important and influential poets in the history of German literature, produced epoch-making works such as the drama "Faust", the play "Iphigenia on Tauris", countless poems and ballads and the novella "The Sorrows of Young Werther", a story about unrequited love. His life and work are inextricably linked with the Thuringen city of Weimar, which with its museums, castles and poets' residences brings together European cultural history in a very confined space and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. When he was 27 years old, Goethe was appointed to the court in Weimar. There, he directed the court theatre for 25 years and was even elevated to the peerage in 1782. The Goethe National Museum with Goethe's residence in Weimar offers fascinating insights into Goethe's life and work. In Leipzig, Saxony, it is also possible to walk in Goethe's footsteps. The poet studied law here from 1765 to 1768. During this time, he frequented the local student pub Auerbachs Keller, where he later famously wrote "Faust".
The German author Thomas Mann's most well-known work, "Buddenbrooks" won him the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1929, and confirmed his place as one of the most important storytellers of the 20th century. In this social novel, Thomas Mann describes the decline of a wealthy merchant family who feel they belong to the Hanseatic upper middle class. Mann's own family history and his home town of Lübeck provided the setting and blueprint for the novel. Today, it is still possible to sense the atmosphere that inspired Mann with the imposing brick architecture of this charming north German city. If you want to follow in the footsteps of the Mann family, you will find numerous testimonies from that time in the Buddenbrookhaus museum, which bring Thomas Mann's narrative work to life at first hand.
Germany's vibrant capital city Berlin has produced a particularly large number of literary figures. With a book in hand, you can immerse yourself in many eras – in the Prussian Berlin of Theodor Fontaine, in the Roaring Twenties with the novel "The Gift" by Vladimir Nabokov (who was famous for his novel "Lolita") or in the post-reunification period with Lutz Seiler's bestseller "Stern 111". The list of works written or set in Berlin seems endless, including excellent books such as "Berlin Alexanderplatz" by Alfred Döblin or Isherwood's novel "Goodbye to Berlin", on which the musical "Cabaret" was based. The award-winning thriller series that is currently sweeping the world is "Babylon Berlin", featuring the police inspector Gereon Rath, set in 1929 Berlin, and based on Volker Kutscher's novel "Der nasse Fisch" (The Wet Fish).
Frankfurt am Main/Hessen
Frankfurt am Main is not only the birthplace of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, but is also one of the most important literary cities of Germany. Important institutions related to books and writing are concentrated here, such as the International Book Fair, the German Publishers and Booksellers Association (which awards the German Book Prize), the German National Library and numerous publishing houses. As such, Frankfurt provides fertile ground for new literary trends and discoveries. The literary crime scene is exciting, making use of the contrasting backdrop of the Main metropolis with its high bank towers and dodgy railway station district. Crime novels from Jan Segher about the eccentric police inspector Robert Marthaler, or books from Nele Neuhaus about the investigation duo Pia Kirchhoff and Oliver von Bodenstein appear regularly on the bestseller list.