Edition suhrkamp

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Volume 1 of the edition suhrkamp

The edition suhrkamp (es) is a book series from Suhrkamp Verlag in paperback format . Since May 1963, 48 first editions have been published annually - so far over 2,400 volumes - both literary and essayistic. The edition suhrkamp , initially published by Siegfried Unseld , helped shape the social discourse, particularly in the 1960s and 1970s. The series is also known for its series design in spectral colors , which was created by Willy Fleckhaus .


On May 2, 1963, the first 20 volumes of edition suhrkamp, initially edited by Siegfried Unseld , appeared . The project to publish high-quality, sophisticated first editions as paperback was not without controversy. Among others Max Frisch and Hans Magnus Enzensberger advised Unseld against this plan - Frisch remarked in a letter: "Suhrkamp in linen, Suhrkamp in cans, Suhrkamp as a spread."

The books, which were priced at 3 DM in 1963  , were quite successful, however; over 41 million copies have been sold in edition suhrkamp since then . 48 new volumes are also published annually - four per month.

Volume 1 - the enlightening piece by Bert Brecht : Life of Galilei  - can be understood as a programmatic announcement. According to Unseld should it primarily addressed to students to "make (...) them the new German literature, translations and theoretical texts in books at low prices accessible. From the beginning it is clear that the edition suhrkamp affords the luxury and the passion of a line, i.e. a clearly recognizable concept. "

In retrospect, Jürgen Habermas wrote 16 years later, in the foreword of the 1000th volume: “ It represents a trait of intellectual development which one can say that dominated post-war Germany: I mean the decided connection to the Enlightenment, humanism, bourgeois radicals Think of the avant-garde of the 19th century - both aesthetic and political. "

Both literary works and theoretical essays appear in the edition suhrkamp . From 1963 to 1979, up to and including the 1000th volume, the editor Günther Busch was the editor of the series. After the 1000 tape of it in September 1979 started in May 1980, the New Series of Suhrkamp - again with 20 volumes. Also in 1980, Raimund Fellinger , editor at Suhrkamp Verlag since 1979, took over the publication of es ; from 2002 to 2006 the series was supervised by Alexander Roesler. Since spring 2007, Heinrich Geiselsberger is for the program of it is responsible.

In the 1960s and 1970s in particular, it had a dominant position in the “left-wing intellectual milieu” and was an essential medium in the social discourse of that time. It is still significant - even if not to that extent - which is also reflected in the numerous texts published on the 40th anniversary.


The name Willy Fleckhaus is closely associated with edition suhrkamp . Siegfried Unseld met him in 1959 and commissioned him - after the death of Peter Suhrkamp - to redesign the covers for the Suhrkamp library . The typographical clarity and rigor - the Baskerville in one font size for author, title and series designation, a volume dividing the area of ​​the entire cover - caused a sensation in the public. Unseld had found the book designer for his publishing house. Over the next 30 years, the two should forge that congenial relationship about which Fleckhaus said in a lecture in Basel in 1973: "You can only be successful as a book designer if you work with a good publisher."

In 1962 Unseld had his first talks with Fleckhaus and presented him with his idea “(...) to create a series for those German-speaking literary authors whose texts were aimed at a new, young readership and who wanted to promote a new awareness of democracy; (...) ". Unseld's idea was to assign a certain color to each individual literary genre - novel, poetry, drama, essay. Fleckhaus brought his defined generic colors to the next meeting, a color palette of 48 colors of the solar spectrum. Shades of blue were intended for epics, shades of red to orange for dramas. However, given the different appearance of the volumes, this assignment would not have made an “endless band that closes again” possible. The volumes had to receive the colors of the light spectrum one after the other, regardless of their genre . It should be so.

Four volumes appear monthly, in the year 48. If the light band was closed, volume 49 started all over again. “I know of booksellers who want to own this library completely. Instead of Frisch or Beckett, you buy two greens to fill the gap at home. Some also buy a meter or two of books. Frisch, Beckett and the publisher are certainly not reluctant to see this. "

Employees and representatives of the publishing house were initially not at all enthusiastic about these trendy, Easter egg-colored envelopes, and Unseld met with the greatest resistance. The color Suhrkamp is the serious gray and the new series should also appear in gray, it said in the publisher. How Unseld solved this problem in-house is a masterpiece of his publishing house management. The edition suhrkamp received a dust jacket around the cardboard cover. The cardboard was gray, the envelopes followed the defined color spectrum. “This was done up to volume 354, with an envelope attached to each volume. But then it became clear to everyone that the original concept was the right one. "

What was strikingly new and modern about it was certainly its color scheme, but the typographic design was also an expression of modernity in the early 1960s: all volumes of es were set in a single font and a single font size, Garamond in 2 Cicero (24 pt) for author, title, subtitle, publisher name and publisher abbreviation. All typographical elements were built up from the bottom of the envelope, the individual lines were usually separated from one another by eight thin lines.


The first 20 volumes of edition suhrkamp, delivered on May 2, 1963 :

  1. Bertolt Brecht : Life of Galileo
  2. Hermann Hesse : Late prose
  3. Samuel Beckett : Waiting for Godot
  4. Max Frisch : Don Juan or the love of geometry
  5. Günter Eich : The surf off Setúbal / The year Lazertis
  6. Ernst Penzoldt : Additions
  7. Peter Weiss : The conversation between the three people walking
  8. TS Eliot : Murder in the cathedral
  9. Bertolt Brecht: Poems and songs from pieces
  10. Theodor W. Adorno : Interventions
  11. Ernst Bloch : Tübingen Introduction to Philosophy 1
  12. Ludwig Wittgenstein : Tractatus logico-philosophicus
  13. Wolfgang Hildesheimer : The delay
  14. Heinar Kipphardt : The general's dog
  15. Dieter Waldmann : Atlantis
  16. Martin Walser : Oak and Angora. A German chronicle
  17. Walter Benjamin : City Pictures
  18. Nelly Sachs : Selected Poems
  19. Hans Erich Nossack : The downfall
  20. Hans Magnus Enzensberger : Poems / creation of a poem


The edition suhrkamp in exhibitions and collections:

  • System design. Over 100 years of chaos in everyday life . Museum of Applied Arts Cologne , January 20 to June 7, 2015.
  • Willy Fleckhaus. Design - Revolt - Rainbow . Museum of Applied Arts Cologne, August 26 to December 11, 2016.
  • Willy Fleckhaus. Design - Revolt - Rainbow . Museum of Arts and Crafts Hamburg , January 20 to May 7, 2017.
  • Willy Fleckhaus. Design - Revolt - Rainbow . Museum Villa Stuck Munich, June 1 to September 10, 2017.
  • We are looking for the rainbow . The State Museum for Art and Cultural History Oldenburg is looking for volumes 1 to 48 of edition suhrkamp for its design collectionto complete its “rainbow”. Retrieved June 6, 2020.
  • Museum of Modern Art , New York.


Web links

Wikisource: Directory of the book series  - sources and full texts
Commons : Edition Suhrkamp  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Michael Koetzle, Carsten M. Wolff: Fleckhaus. Germany's first art director . Klinkhardt & Biermann, Munich / Berlin 1997, ISBN 3-7814-0405-6 , pp. 167 .
  2. ^ Siegfried Unseld: The Marienbader basket. About the book design at Suhrkamp Verlag. To honor Willy Fleckhaus . Maximilian Society, Hamburg 1976, p. 40 .
  3. ^ Siegfried Unseld: The Marienbader basket. About the book design at Suhrkamp Verlag. To honor Willy Fleckhaus . Maximilian Society, Hamburg 1976, p. 42 .
  4. ^ Michael Koetzle, Carsten M. Wolff: Fleckhaus. Germany's first art director . Klinkhardt & Biermann, Munich / Berlin 1997, ISBN 3-7814-0405-6 , pp. 167 .
  5. ^ Siegfried Unseld: The Marienbader basket. About the book design at Suhrkamp Verlag. To honor Willy Fleckhaus . Maximilian Society, Hamburg 1976, p. 43 .
  6. Raimund Fellinger (ed.): Brief history of the edition suhrkamp . Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2003, ISBN 3-518-06719-2 , pp. 32 .