Helmut Böttiger (author, 1956)

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Helmut Böttiger Leipzig Book Fair 2013

Helmut Böttiger (born September 8, 1956 in Creglingen ) is a German writer , literary critic and essayist .


After graduating from high school in Weikersheim, Helmut Böttiger studied German and history in Freiburg . He finished his studies with a dissertation on Fritz Rudolf Fries and GDR literature. After various positions as a culture editor, including as the responsible literary editor of the Frankfurter Rundschau , he has lived as a freelance author in Berlin since 2002 .

In 1993 Böttiger's book No Man, No Shot, No Goal was published. The drama of German football that marked the beginning of a whole stream of columnist books on football. "In the last twilight, Helmut Böttiger wrote a remarkable aesthetic of German football," noted Dirk Schümer : "Böttiger shines with his extremely knowledgeable retrospective and sideways glances, which naturally give football an aesthetic and political significance." The title No man, no shot, no goal refers to the state of German football , which Böttiger laments very much, one would rely too much on the old-fashioned "German virtues" - in fact, the 1994 and 1998 world championships and above all the 2000 European championships were a low point in Germany Football history. Some contemporary reviewers accused the author of "cultural pessimism" and "nonsense". As a result, a dispute about the "football columnism" developed, which was celebrated in the first reactions to Böttiger's book, but also met with criticism from other publicists.

Böttiger 's 1996 book Orte Paul Celans has no generic name and moves associatively between poetic essay, reportage and interpretation. The author visits the places where the poet Paul Celan lived: Chernivtsi , Bucharest , Vienna and Paris . Andreas Breitenstein wrote: “The author has mastered the kind of instruction that one likes to put up with: saturated with intuition, saturated with reflection, carried by linguistic elegance and narrative wit. In the best essayistic manner, Böttiger circles his subject without crushing it. ” Herta Müller published an essay in Die Zeit :“ My own Romanian-German and Romanian backgrounds affect these places. Therefore, the journey of this book stirred her up again from the first page. ”In 2006 Böttiger published another book on Paul Celan ( How to read poems and landscapes ), which is based on Celan's relationship to the landscape of Brittany .

In east time-west time. Breaking up a new culture in 1996, Böttiger processed his experiences as a cultural correspondent for the Frankfurter Rundschau in Berlin. In 2004, After the Utopias, an overview of contemporary German-language literature followed . Böttiger is referring to the years between 1989 and 2004: to the writers who first drew attention to themselves during this period or whose most important works fall during this period. Some reviewers criticized the subjectivity of the selection, which placed authors such as Wolfgang Hilbig , Marcel Beyer , Ulrich Peltzer , Thomas Lehr , Kathrin Schmidt , Thomas Meinecke , Reinhard Jirgl , Markus Werner or Wilhelm Genazino in the foreground. Hannelore Schlaffer missed names like Oskar Pastior , Heiner Müller or Arno Schmidt, who died in 1979 . She remarked: “Böttiger's dilemma is that he looks for Robert Walser's relentless dreamers in contemporary literature and finds nothing but petty bourgeoisie. Instead of a stranger, he comes across obnoxious outsiders, like Hilbig's 'stoker' or Reinhard Jirgl's former electrical engineer. "

Böttiger also curated two major literary exhibitions : Elephant Rounds. Walter Höllerer and the invention of the literary business (2005) and 2009 double life. Literary scenes from post-war Germany . This was shown on behalf of the German Academy for Language and Poetry in various literature houses. Among others in the literary houses in Berlin and Frankfurt . The exhibition catalog soon became the definitive study of the literature of the early post-war period. The literary critic Martin Lüdke said the books were “a compact course in all-German literary history from 1945-1955” and Tilman Krause wrote: “For the great German year of memory 2009 , the most important deed should have been accomplished here, in terms of literary history.” Jens Bisky noted later: "The two-volume catalog is - and will probably remain so for a few years - the standard work on the subject"

In 2012 Böttiger published with Die Gruppe 47. As the German literature wrote history an analysis of the history of Gruppe 47 . Böttiger tries here to read the history of the influential group of writers who dominated literary life in the early days of the Federal Republic against the grain and questions some theses that were believed to be safe: for example about the dominance of a “clear-cut” style, the role of German war returnees or the appearance of Paul Celan. In 2013 the book received the Leipzig Book Fair prize in the non-fiction / essay category . Jochen Hieber explained: "It is clear and understandable, it tells with verve, but also with care and an unmistakable sense of justice." On November 26, 2012, the book was voted book of the week on SWR2 .

Böttiger works as a literary critic mainly for Deutschlandradio , the Süddeutsche Zeitung and Die Zeit . Among other things, he gave laudations for Wilhelm Genazino (2004) and Reinhard Jirgl (2010) for the Büchner Prize. In 2013, Helmut Böttiger was the jury speaker for the German Book Prize . He is an appointed member of the German Academy for Football Culture and, as a member of the jury, was responsible for the “Football Book of the Year” award at the German Football Culture Prize in 2017 and 2018 .



To justify the awarding of the prize to Böttiger, the jury wrote: "Böttiger, as a critic of his own company, has enough heart to focus on narcissism, abuse of office and other peculiarities of this special profession - to reflect on the conditions under which literary criticism arises."

Web links

Commons : Helmut Böttiger  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. FAZ from June 11, 1994.
  2. Christoph Biermann in the taz , December 10, 1993.
  3. z. B. by Norbert Seitz in: Die Zeit vom July 6, 2006: “Writers, columnists and football philosophers are currently outdoing each other in their attempt to perceive the earlier proletarian sport as a true aesthetic. What we just missed is the search for the poetic elements that make up the game of football. "
  4. Neue Zürcher Zeitung  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. , October 26, 1996.@1@ 2Template: Toter Link / zeitungsarchiv.nzz.ch  
  5. ^ The time of December 6, 1996.
  6. FAZ of November 30, 2004.
  7. ^ Online catalog of the exhibition Doppelleben. Literary scenes from post-war Germany .
  8. ^ Fränkische Nachrichten of September 23, 2009.
  9. Süddeutsche Zeitung of March 16, 2013.
  10. Jochen Hieber in Die Zeit dated December 7, 2012.
  11. criticism of Andreas Puff-Trojan on swr.de .
  12. https://www.fussball-kultur.org/adresse/address/helmut-boettiger
  13. https://www.fussball-kultur.org/fussball-kulturpreis/archiv/2018/fussballbuch/jury/?L=700
  14. ^ Alfred Kerr Prize to Helmut Böttiger at boersenblatt.net , February 9, 2012