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Twenty of the best German novels

Two particularly well-read bloggers are about to host their second-ever German Literature Month online.

So we asked Caroline and Lizzy aka ‘Beautyisasleepingcat’ and ‘Lizzy’s Literary Life’ (they prefer not to use their actual names) for their top twenty must-read novels in German. They suggest the following list, based on the selections of German critic Marcel Reich-Ranicki.

Johann Wolfgang Goethe: The Sorrows of Young Werther aka Die Leiden des jungen Werther (1774) Germany

Johann Wolfgang Goethe: Elective Affinities aka Die Wahlverwandtschaften (1809) Germany

E. T. A. Hoffmann: The Devil’s Elixirs aka Die Elixiere des Teufels (1815/16) Germany

Gottfried Keller: Green Henry aka  Der grüne Heinrich (1854/55) Switzerland

Theodor Fontane: Frau Jenny Treibel (1892) Germany. Seems not available in English.

Theodor Fontane: Effi Briest (1894/95) Germany

Thomas Mann: Buddenbrooks (1901) Germany

Heinrich Mann: The Blue Angel aka Professor Unrat (1905) Germany, OOP

Hermann Hesse: The Prodigy aka Unterm Rad (1906) Germany

Robert Musil: The Confusions of Young Törless aka Die Verwirrungen des Zöglings Törless (1906) Austria

Franz Kafka: The Trial aka Der Prozess (1914/15) Germany – Prague

Thomas Mann: The Magic Mountain aka Der Zauberberg (1924) Germany

Alfred Döblin: Berlin Alexanderplatz (1929) Germany

Joseph Roth: The Radetzky March aka Radetzkymarsch (1932) Austria

Anna Seghers: The Seventh Cross aka Das siebte Kreuz (1942) Germany

Heimito von Doderer: The Strudlhof Steps (The link included the translation of the first 79 pages)  aka Die Strudlhofstiege (1951) Austria. Seems not available.

Wolfgang Koeppen: Pigeons on the Grass aka Tauben im Gras (1951) Germany

Günter Grass: The Tin Drum aka Die Blechtrommel (1959) Germany

Max Frisch: Montauk (1975) Switzerland. OOP

Thomas Bernhard: Woodcutters aka Holzfällen (1984) Austria
For details of German Literature Month, click here. 

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