Herta Müller Wins Nobel Prize in Literature
Herta Müller, the Romanian-born German novelist and essayist who writes of the oppression of dictatorship in her native country and the unmoored existence of the political exile, won the 2009 Nobel Prize in Literature on Thursday.
Announcing the award in Stockholm, the Swedish Academy described Ms. Müller as a writer “who, with the concentration of poetry and the frankness of prose, depicts the landscape of the dispossessed.” Her award coincides with the 20th anniversary of the fall of Communism in Europe.
Ms. Müller, 56, emigrated to Germany in 1987 after years of persecution and censorship in Romania. She is the first German writer to win the Nobel in literature since Günter Grass in 1999 and the 13th winner writing in German since the prize was first given in 1901. She is the 12th woman to capture the literature prize. But unlike previous winners like Doris Lessing and V. S. Naipaul, Ms. Müller is a relative unknown outside of literary circles in Germany.
She has written some 20 books, but just 5 have been translated into English, including the novels “The Land of Green Plums” and “The Appointment.”
At a packed news conference on Thursday at the German Publishers & Booksellers Association in Berlin, where she lives, Ms. Müller, petite, wearing all black and sitting on a leopard-print chair, appeared overwhelmed by all the cameras in her face. She spoke of the 30 years she spent under a dictatorship and of friends who did not survive, describing living “every day with the fear in the morning that in the evening one would no longer exist.”
When asked what it meant that her name would now be mentioned in the same breath as German greats like Thomas Mann and Heinrich Böll, Ms. Müller remained philosophical. “I am now nothing better and I’m nothing worse,” she said, adding: “My inner thing is writing. That I can hold on to.”
Earlier in the day, at a news conference in Stockholm, Peter Englund, permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, said Ms. Müller was honored for her “very, very distinct special language” and because “she has really a story to tell about growing up in a dictatorship ... and growing up as a stranger in your own family.”
Just two days before the announcement, Mr. Englund criticized the jury panel as being too “Eurocentric.” Europeans have won 9 of the past 10 literature prizes. On Thursday Mr. Englund told The Associated Press that it was easier for Europeans to relate to European literature. “It’s the result of psychological bias that we really try to be aware of,” he said.
Ms. Müller was born and raised in the German-speaking town of Nitzkydorf, Romania. Her father served in the Waffen-SS in World War II, and her mother was deported to a work camp in the Soviet Union in 1945. At university, Ms. Müller opposed the regime of Nicolae Ceausescu and joined Aktionsgruppe Banat, a group of dissident writers who sought freedom of speech.
She wrote her first collection of short stories in 1982 while working as a translator for a factory. The stories were censored by the Romanian authorities, and Ms. Müller was fired from the factory after refusing to work with the Securitate secret police. The uncensored manuscript of “Niederungen” — or “Nadirs” — was published in Germany two years later to critical acclaim.
“Niederungen” and other early works depicted life in a village and the repression its residents faced. Her later novels, including “The Land of Green Plums” and “The Appointment,” approach allegory in their graphic portrayals of the brutality suffered by modest people living under totalitarianism. Her most recent novel, “Atemschaukel,” is a finalist for the German Book Prize.
Even in Germany, Ms. Müller is not well known. “She’s not one of these public trumpeters — or drum-beaters, like Grass,” said Volker Weidermann, a book critic for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sunday newspaper. “She’s more reserved.”
Ms. Müller also has a low profile in the English-speaking world, although “The Land of Green Plums” won the International Dublin Impac Literary Award in 1998.
Writing in The New York Times Book Review in 2001, Peter Filkins described “The Appointment” as using the thuggery of the government as “a backdrop to the brutality and betrayal with which people treat one another in their everyday lives.”
Lyn Marven, a lecturer in German studies at the University of Liverpool who has written about Ms. Müller, said: “It’s an odd disjunction to write about traumatic experiences living under a dictatorship in a very poetic style. It’s not what we expect, certainly.”
Michael Naumann, Germany’s former culture minister and the former head of Metropolitan Books, one of Ms. Müller’s publishers in the United States, praised her work but said she was “not a public intellectual.”
She has, however, spoken out against oppression and collaboration. In Germany, for example, she has criticized those East German writers who worked with the secret police.
A spokeswoman for Metropolitan, a unit of Macmillan that released English translations of “The Land of Green Plums” and “The Appointment” in the United States, said the publisher would reissue hardcover editions of those books. Northwestern University Press, which published the paperback version of “The Land of Green Plums,” said it was reprinting 20,000 copies.
In Germany, Ms. Müller’s publisher, Carl Hanser Verlag, was also scrambling to reprint more copies of “Atemschaukel,” as well as other titles from her backlist. Asked whether winning the prize while relatively young could hurt her work, Ms. Müller said: “I thought after every book, never again, it’s my last. Then two years pass, and I start writing again. It doesn’t feel any different after I’ve won this prize.”
The awards ceremony is planned for Dec. 10 in Stockholm. As the winner, Ms. Müller will receive 10 million Swedish kronor, or about $1.4 million.
文化社会 | 2009.10.11
一个作家可以把苦难直接转化成文学作品，不加柔化，不予中和。这是赫塔·米勒每一本书都证明了的，无论是在罗马尼亚写就的，还是移民德国后 创作的。她的美学感觉具有地震仪般的准确性，她非同寻常的文学天才从一开始就有了固有的定义。赫塔·米勒的正义感，她那不可动摇的道德直线，她对一切形式 迫害与愚蠢行为的绝不宽容，使她成为共产党秘密情报机构眼里的可疑对象。
今年诺贝尔文学奖的这位女得主在大学时代就非常接近罗马尼亚德语作家行动团体Banat。理查德·瓦格纳也是这个圈子的成员。虽然这个团体刚开始时 是非政治性的，但他们的成员受到秘密情工机构的迫害，有些成员甚至被逮捕。在赫塔·米勒拒绝合作之后，罗马尼亚秘密情工机构不断地威胁着她。尽管情工机构 对她施加了种种刁难、陷害和恐吓，她始终忠于自己的原则，甚至冒着生命危险。
作者：Rodica Binder / 平心
〔編 譯張沛元／綜合八日外電報導〕向來是諾貝爾文學獎得主熱門人選的德國女作家荷塔．慕勒，八日摘下二○○九年諾貝爾文學獎桂冠，成為第十二位獲得此一殊榮的 女文豪。生於羅馬尼亞的慕勒過去批評共產政權不遺餘力，被譽為是羅馬尼亞文學良心，在柏林圍牆倒下二十週年之際，她的獲獎被視為諾貝爾獎對共產主義垮台的 肯定。
慕 勒於一九八二年在文壇初試啼聲，發表短篇故事集「低地深淵」（Niederungen），但隨即遭當時共黨政府審查刪修。一九八四年，慕勒在德國出版完整 版，同年又在羅馬尼亞出版「受壓迫的探戈」。這兩本書都是描述一個羅馬尼亞的德語小村莊在貪瀆、偏執與壓迫下的艱苦生活，「羅馬尼亞國營媒體痛批這些作 品，但在羅馬尼亞以外，德國媒體卻對這兩本書予以好評，」瑞典學院說。
慕勒向來公開批判羅馬尼亞獨裁者西奧塞古的共產政權與秘密警察，曾因 拒絕當線民而丟了畢生第一份工作，最後被禁止在羅馬尼亞出版作品；一九八七年，慕勒與同為作家的夫婿移居德國，稍後陸續出版「狐狸當時已經是獵人」（一九 九二）、「風中綠李」（一九九四），以及「約定」（二○○一）等小說，皆詳盡刻畫在停滯腐敗的獨裁政權統治下的日常生活。慕勒的著作多以德文為主，但有部 份作品被翻譯為英文、法文與西班牙文。
慕勒的父親在二戰時曾參與納粹黨衛軍。許多德裔羅馬尼亞人在一九四五年被遣返至蘇聯，慕勒的母親也不 例外，在勞改營待了五年。多年後，慕勒在作品「Atemschaukel」中描述德裔羅馬尼亞人流亡蘇聯的故事。慕勒曾在德、英與美等地許多高等學府客座 講學，目前定居柏林。