Ludwig Hohl

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Ludwig Hohl (born April 9, 1904 in Netstal ; † November 3, 1980 in Geneva ; resident in Grub ) was a Swiss writer .


Ludwig Hohl was the son of Pastor Arnold and the daughter of a paper manufacturer, Magdalena, born Zweifel from the Glarnerland . Hohl had a very tense relationship with his parents throughout his life and grew up with his younger sister in Nestal until 1910. After that the family lived in Sirnach . Hohl attended the canton school in Frauenfeld , which he had to leave early because of the allegedly bad influence on his classmates. When Hohl also failed at the “Minerva” commercial school in Zurich , he left his parents' home and never returned. From then on he also refused to speak dialect , but allowed his parents to support him financially for a long time.

Hohl refused to undertake vocational training and to pursue a regular job, and mostly lived in depressing material circumstances, for many years only on the little money he received for printing small pieces in newspapers and on donations from friends. From 1924 to 1937 he stayed abroad: until 1930 in Paris , 1930/1931 in Vienna and from 1931 to 1937 in The Hague . Acquaintances from these years included the photographer Heinrich Heidersberger and the writers Eduard Zak , Albin Zollinger and Rudolf Jakob Humm .

After returning to Switzerland in 1937, he lived first in Biel , then in Geneva, and from 1954 to 1975 in a basement apartment in the working-class district of La Jonction. In his youth he was an enthusiastic alpinist , and in later years he still wanted regular physical exercise. He reflected both in his work, as well as the excessive consumption of alcohol, which he wanted to use to increase his productivity. He was married five times - including the painter Hanny Fries - and had a daughter. In his final years his financial situation improved, but he suffered from several illnesses and died in 1980 of an inflammatory disease of the legs. He is buried on the Cimetière des Rois in Geneva, as is his last wife, Madeleine Hohl-de Weiss (1916–1993).

Success and broader recognition as a writer were denied to Hohl. He self-published several of his works . He had to compel Artemis Verlag to publish the second volume of the notes (see below): after the commercial failure of the first volume, the latter had refused to publish the “unsaleable” work for several years. Although authors such as Max Frisch and Friedrich Dürrenmatt held him in high regard, it was only towards the end of his life that the institutions of the literary industry gave him a certain appreciation. Through a tip from Adolf Muschg , Siegfried Unseld , the Suhrkamp publishing manager, became aware of Hohl in the early 1970s and negotiated a (new) edition of his works with him. In 1970 and 1976, Hohl received prizes from the Swiss Schiller Foundation , in 1978 the Robert Walser Centenar Prize , which was awarded on the occasion of Robert Walser's 100th birthday, and the Petrarca Prize in 1980 , with Peter Handke giving a laudation . Nevertheless, all of Hohl's titles have been out of stock again at Suhrkamp for some time and are therefore only available in antiquarian form for interested readers today, except in libraries . Hohl's estate is in the Swiss Literary Archives in Bern . The Ludwig Hohl Foundation , based in Zurich, takes care of the maintenance, development, research and wider dissemination of his work.

His extraordinary and contradicting life gave rise to a number of legends, some of which he himself contributed to. Peter Bichsel warned in 1969 that Hohl had "got into the fatal situation of the insider tip".


Bergfahrt , which he began in 1926 and revised several times in the following decades, is considered to be his most important narrative work . It only appeared in 1975. The story describes the attempt of two very different young men to climb a mountain and can be interpreted as a parable .

A little better known than his narrative work are a number of writings in which philosophical questions are dealt with in an idiosyncratic way in the form of notes. However, it was important to Hohl that the supposed aphorisms are closely related to one another. These include the writings Nuances and Details , The Notes and That Almost Everything Is Different .

In the book Die Notizen or Von der Unpreligen Versöhnung , which is considered to be the main work and which was written from 1934 to 1936, Hohl chose a cross-genre mixture as the form for his literary and philosophical work. Aphorism, treatise, short prose, poem, quotation: everything comes together to form an open writing system with texts that are nonetheless coordinated in terms of content and form in twelve parts (with headings such as “About Working”, “About Writing”, “About Death” etc.) . With an unusual radicalism he describes the creative "work" of the individual, in which knowledge and action form a unity, as the meaning of life. The mass of people who do not work in this way - at Hohl often personified as "the pharmacist" or "Mr. Meier" - he covered with polemics and caustic mockery. From the notes for a second, similar work, Hohl edited the book That almost everything is different . Further notes from this group of ideas, which were entitled Nachnotizen or Von den einbruchenden Ränder , were only published posthumously .

In his works he often quoted the few authors and thinkers he valued: especially Goethe , Lichtenberg , Montaigne and Spinoza . One of Hohl's concerns was to give the reader a new approach to classics. He is reported to have said once that he does not presume to want to better formulate things that have already been said (written) very well. Among the writers, he praised Honoré de Balzac , Marcel Proust , Karl Kraus and Katherine Mansfield .

“Hollow is a thinker, the rest of us, if we grasp the thinking precisely, we are not, we avoid precise thinking in parables. Hollow is necessary, we are random. We document what is human, Hohl defines it. "

- Friedrich Dürrenmatt : in La Revue de Belles-Lettres, No. 3/1969


  • Poems . Self-published, Constance 1925.
  • Nuances and details
    • I and II . Oprecht, Zurich 1939.
    • III . With a memorial for Albin Zollinger . Self-published, Geneva 1942.
      • New editions in one volume: Walter, Olten 1964 and Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1975.
  • Nocturnal Way: Stories With 15 pen drawings by Hanny Fries. Morgarten, Zurich 1943.
    • New edition: (= Library Suhrkamp , Volume 292). Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1971. New edition: ibid. 1986, ISBN 3-518-01292-4 .
    • Another new edition: with the drawings and a double portrait photo of the two. Strauhof, Zurich 2004.
  • The Notes or Of the hasty reconciliation :
    • Volume 1: I.-VI. Part . Artemis, Zurich 1944.
    • Volume 2: VII.-XII. Part . Artemis, Zurich 1954.
      • New edition in one volume (1981): (Suhrkamp Taschenbuch, Volume 1000). Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1981; as paperback: ibid. 1984, ISBN 3-518-37500-8 .
      • New edition in one volume (2014): (= Library Suhrkamp, ​​volume 1483). Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 2014, ISBN 978-3-518-22483-0 .
  • Reason and goodness . Narrative. Tschudy, St. Gallen 1956.
  • Realities . Prose. Tschudy, St. Gallen 1962.
  • That almost everything is different . Walter, Olten 1967; (= Library Suhrkamp, ​​Volume 849). Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1984, ISBN 3-518-01849-3 .
  • Three old women in a mountain village . A story. Candelabra, Bern 1970.
  • Ascent . (= Library Suhrkamp, ​​Volume 624). Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1975; ibid. 1978, ISBN 3-518-01624-5 .
  • From the falling edges. Post Notes. And: follow-up notes, comments . From the estate, ed. v. Johannes Beringer and Hugo Sarbach. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1986.
  • And a new earth. ed. by J. Beringer. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1990.
  • Courage and choice. Essays on literature , ed. by J. Beringer. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1992, ISBN 3-518-40443-1 .
  • Youth diary. published by Hugo Sarbach on behalf of the Ludwig Hohl Foundation. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1998, ISBN 3-518-41012-1 .
  • The most reliable of my joys. Hanny Fries and Ludwig Hohl: Conversations, letters, drawings and documents. ed. v. W. Morlang. Nagel & Kimche, Munich 2003, ISBN 3-312-00310-5 (therein also: Joseph Gottfarstein , Briefe. Pp. 361–368) .
  • From the deep sea. Paris 1926. ed. by U. Stadler. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 2004, ISBN 3-518-41588-3 .
  • Midnight Society. Narratives . Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 2005, ISBN 3-518-45663-6 .
  • It's hard to talk into the dark like that. Letters to Isak Grünberg 1930–1937 . ed. by Rudolf von Bitter. Nimbus, Wädenswil 2011, ISBN 978-3-907142-63-9 .


  • Xaver Kronig: Ludwig Hohl. His narrative prose with an introduction to the complete works . (= European university publications. Series 1, Volume 73). Lang, Bern 1972, ISBN 3-261-00729-X .
  • Adrian Ewald Bänninger: Fragment and world view in Ludwig Hohl's notes. Introduction and interpretation of a work on the margins of contemporary Swiss literature . Dissertation, Zurich 1973.
  • Dieter Fringeli : Ludwig Hohl - the well-known, misunderstood genius. In: Poets on the sidelines. Swiss authors from Glauser to Hohl. Artemis, Zurich 1974, ISBN 3-7608-0339-3 , pp. 89-99 and 173.
  • Werner Fuchs: “World of Possibilities”. On Ludwig Hohl's poetry and ways of thinking . (= European university publications. Series 1, Volume 386). Lang, Bern 1980, ISBN 3-261-04836-0 .
  • Johannes Beringer (Ed.): Ludwig Hohl . (= Suhrkamp-Taschenbuch. Volume 2007: Materials ). Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1981, ISBN 3-518-38507-0 .
  • Alexander J. Seiler : Ludwig Hohl - a film in fragments and four texts . Edition Zyklop, Zurich 1982, OCLC 35763573 . (Also contains the script for Seiler's documentary of the same name) .
  • Jean-Marie Valentin (Ed.): Ludwig Hohl. Files of the Paris Colloquium / Actes du Colloque de Paris 14–16 January 1993 . (= Yearbook for International German Studies. 36). Lang, Bern 1994, ISBN 3-906752-30-5 .
  • Sabine Haupt: "As heavy as a white stone". Ludwig Hohl's ambivalent coping with melancholy . (= Zurich German Studies. 48). Lang, Bern 1996, ISBN 3-906756-55-6 .
  • Heinz Ludwig Arnold (Ed.): Ludwig Hohl . Edition text + kritik (Issue 161), Munich 2004, ISBN 3-88377-754-4 .
  • Peter Erismann, Rudolf Probst, Hugo Sarbach (eds.): Ludwig Hohl: "Everything is work" . Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 2004, ISBN 3-518-41587-5 .
  • Martin Raaflaub, Magnus Wieland, Hugo Sarbach (eds.): Ludwig Hohl. Quarto, Journal of the Swiss Literary Archives , No. 36 . Slatkine, Geneva 2013, ISSN  1023-6341 , table of contents .
  • Johannes Beringer: Hohls Weg . Book on Demand, Berlin 2013, ISBN 978-3-86386-546-7 .
  • Heinz Weder (Ed.): Letters from Albin Zollinger to Ludwig Hohl . Huber, Bern / Stuttgart 1965.
  • Rainer Mason (Ed.): Ludwig Hohl . La Revue de Belles-Lettres. Geneva. 94th volume, No. 3, 1969.
  • Xaver Kronig: Ludwig Hohl. His narrative prose with an introduction to the complete works . Bern, Frankfurt am Main 1972.
  • Deux: loners: Ludwig Hohl et Bram van Velde. In: La Revue de Belles-Lettres. Geneva. 98th vol., No. 3-4, 1973.
  • Paperback by the Olten group: [Contribution by] Ludwig Hohl et al. Edited by Dieter Fringeli, Paul Nizon , Erica Pedretti . Zurich 1974.
  • Rolf Kleinschmidt: Ludwig Hohl. In: Critical Lexicon for Contemporary German Literature (KLG). Edited by Heinz Ludwig Arnold. Munich 1978ff.
  • Gert Scobel: Introduction to the philosophical prose of Ludwig Hohl . St. Georgen University. Aachen 1979.
  • Werner Fuchs: The world of possibilities. On Ludwig Hohl's poetry and ways of thinking . Bern, Frankfurt am Main 1980.
  • Elsbeth Tschopp: Ludwig Hohl - a childhood in Thurgau. In: Thurgauer Jahrbuch , Vol. 80, 2005, pp. 89–96. ( )
  • Anna Stüssi: Ludwig Hohl. On the way to the factory. A biography from 1904–1937. Wallstein, Göttingen 2014, ISBN 978-3-8353-1566-2 .
  • Sabine Haupt: "Different from the others". NZZ, November 14, 2014 [1]
  • Sabine Haupt: life and work as legend. Ludwig Hohl on his 100th birthday. NZZ, April 10, 2004 [2]
  • Europe, revue littéraire mensuelle (No. 1029/1030: Max Frisch, Ludwig Hohl), Paris 2015

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