Herta Müller combining poetry and politics

Marja Ursin is writing her dissertation on Herta Müller, winner of the 2009 Nobel Prize in Literature.

Alt-tekstin paikka

For her doctoral dissertation in the Department of German Philology at the University of Helsinki, Marja Ursin is researching the works of Herta Müller. In addition to Müller’s books in general, Ursin is interested in the subversive role of the poetic
language in Müller’s works. Ursin wrote her master’s thesis on Müller as well.

Herta Müller was born in Romania as a member of the German-speaking minority in the Banat. She has lived in West Berlin since 1987 and divides her time between writing books and working as a university lecturer. Ursin finds Müller’s works unique and fascinating because of the way in which the author combines poetry and politics.

”Müller’s prose is characterised by a certain poetic quality. I refer, particularly, to her imagery and concise expression, both of which have a great deal in common with modernistic poetry,” says Ursin.

Müller has written 22 works, 8 of which have been translated into Swedish and 3 into Finnish.

”Her readership is still relatively small, even in Germany. I hope that the Nobel Prize will attract more readers.”

Müller opposes totalitarianism in all its forms. Her works discuss the Romanian dictatorship, immigration and its problems, as well as minorities and the banishment of Romanian-Germans to Russian work camps.

”Müller was not awarded a Nobel Prize on high literary merit only. She was also recognized for her opposition to totalitarianism.”

Müller said in an interview that the Nobel Prize will not affect her writing, but Ursin is eager to see whether the author will elaborate on her principal theme.

”Her latest novel, Atemschaukel, no longer deals with dictatorship. She may have already opened new doors.”

Text: Nathalie Edman
Photo: Veikko Somerpuro
Translation: AAC Noodi

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