Marlene Streeruwitz

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Marlene Streeruwitz (2013)

Marlene Streeruwitz (born in Baden near Vienna ) is an Austrian writer and director . She lives in Vienna , London and New York.


Marlene Streeruwitz, who grew up in Baden near Vienna , studied Slavic studies and art history in Vienna after dropping out of law studies . Her plays have been performed on numerous stages since 1992. Her first novel, Seductions , was published in 1996 . 3rd episode. Women's years , for which she was awarded the Mara Cassens Prize , among other things . With her plays, which premiered on the important German-speaking theaters in the early 1990s, Marlene Streeruwitz became the most played playwright, who was always controversial because of her combative (and feminist) attitude towards the classical theater business.

Streeruwitz wrote novels, plays, short stories and theoretical writings. The feminist- oriented Streeruwitz is one of the most politically committed contemporary German-speaking authors. She sharply commented on the political events in Austria ( ÖVP / FPÖ coalition) in 2000. In November 2006, Streeruwitz publicly opposed the staging of the new play by Elfriede Jelinek , Ulrike Maria Stuart , in the Hamburg Thalia Theater . In one scene of the play, Streeruwitz, staged by Nicolas Stemann , is portrayed as a speaking vagina, as is the character of Jelinek himself. In an edition of the Spiegel , Streeruwitz criticizes the fact that the Thalia Theater continues to perform the play in an unchanged form. “As an acting and thinking subject, I don't want to be reduced to a speaking genital organ,” Streeruwitz complains in the Spiegel . Streeruwitz does not want to accept that this is a satire: "German-language humor was always a means of contempt."

During the Covid-19 pandemic , she wrote a serial novel online, accused the Austrian government of “scare tactics” and warned of a “hygiene state”.


Marlene Streeruwitz outlined her poetics primarily in the Tübingen and Frankfurt lectures (see literature list), but also repeatedly interferes in daily discussions in essays that either appear in print or are only published on her website and does not mark there only political, but also aesthetic standpoints, which in her work flow into one another.

Her works reveal influences from Roland Barthes' deconstructive thinking , e. B. in the frequent allusions of the character names (Helene, Margarethe) to their own. With this, Streeruwitz deliberately provokes a biographically interpretive, psychologizing reading attitude in order to reduce it to absurdity at the same time.

Her theory of a genuinely female language, which in patriarchy can only be thought of as a blank space and can only be formulated ex negativo, is reminiscent of Theodor W. Adorno's negative dialectic .

According to her own statement, her key literary experience was reading William Faulkner's novel Schall und Wahn , a major work of American modernism. Streeruwitz has expressly agreed to write Austrian and not German and cited the use of adverbs and the subjunctive as examples of the different grammar. She was repeatedly accused of errors in the use of the subjunctive II in reviews.

When asked whether anyone who asks questions should expect to be excluded from society, Streeruwitz replied in a conversation published in 2014 that she wanted to use literature to reach “this 10%, this willingness to ask and think ”, Because she would like to“ get into conversation with these “sensitive questioners”. However, the importance of the question or a literature that questions the question is not recognized by the Austrian “high culture”.

To individual works

Seductions. 3rd episode. Women years.

In her first novel Seductions. 3rd episode. Women years. Streeruwitz describes the everyday life of the protagonist Helene, who was abandoned by her husband, a maths lecturer, because of his secretary. Since then she has been looking after her two children alone and continues to live next door to her mother-in-law. But then Henryk, a hammer piano player, enters Helene's life, which previously seemed so bleak to her that she would have liked to throw herself from a bridge with both children under her arm. Henryk, however, changes little. Reinhard Baumgart writes about the book at the time :

“The unadorned, wild wording in which these seven or eight Viennese women's months occur refers to nothing behind them, nothing above and nothing below. It is self-evident in the most beautiful, strictest sense, and that also means: brittle and full of puzzles. "


Her second novel posterity. emerged from the attempt to write a biography of Anna Mahler . Posterity. the impossible describes this venture: Margarethe - again alluding forming the first name of the author name - traveled without her partner in the US to a biography of the sculptor Anna Mahler, the daughter of Alma Mahler-Werfel and Mahler to research . America and Vienna represent the poles in the novel around which not only the life of Anna Mahler revolved, but which also form the coordinates for the story of Margaret. The American east coast, which became an exile for many intellectuals and artists from Germany during the Nazi regime, becomes an alternative to Austria, which in the opinion of the author has still not adequately dealt with its Austro-Fascist past.

Party girl.

The novel party girl. goes back to Edgar Allan Poe's The Downfall of the Usher House : In reverse chronology, Streeruwitz tells the incestuous love story of the siblings Madeleine (again an allusion to the name Marlene) and Roderick; Streeruwitz beats patriarchal logic and causalities with the trick of telling the story from back to front. In this way she achieves an alienation effect similar to that of Brecht 's epic theater , which does not rely on tension on the outcome of the plot, but enables concentration on the events themselves. Streeruwitz depicts the retrograde narrative mode on the second page in the form of a mise-en-abyme : Inside the laundromat where Madeleine is employed, the name of the salon on the window pane can only be read from back to front: “latsyrc renaelC "(P. 9). This also outlines the author's concern, not to illuminate the story from a descriptive external perspective, but from the internal perspective of the heroine herself, in complete subjectivity.

Jessica, 30.

The novel Jessica, 30 . Already in the title indicates a crucial innovation for the poetics of Marlene Streeruwitz: It is no longer the point that breaks up the sentences that is omnipresent, but the comma: The three chapters of the novel each consist of a single sentence, the continuous stream of consciousness of which is indicated by the commas Association of the protagonist Jessica breaks. Streeruwitz also finds an equivalent for this design method right at the beginning, because Jessica speaks to herself while jogging breathlessly: "... Everything will be fine, I just have to run up and down the Praterhauptallee and then everything is fine again". The dramatization by Jessica, 30. was premiered in 2010 at the Schauspielhaus Graz under the direction of Dieter Boyer .


In her novel Distance. there are again two poles in which the plot is clamped, namely globalization and terrorism : the reader experiences in real time - based on the real-time television series " 24 " broadcast at the time the novel was written - Selma Brechthold's journey to globalized London, where she witnessed the terrorist attacks dated July 7, 2005 .

The evening after your best friend's funeral.

From the blurb:

“A woman on the way home. She comes from her best friend's funeral, six hours ago, and in the traffic she thinks of Lilli again and again. About how she kept it with men, with the bonds that one forms lifelong, with the family, with the children, with the many small and also bigger lies, the immersion in affairs and with the deadly illness. And how the chains around Lilli have become closer and closer. "

The book is part of the opening program of the weissbooks.w publishing house, which was founded in 2007 in Frankfurt am Main. The last chapter of the short text is - unusual for Streeruwitz 'prose works - a nine-page poem with very wide line spacing. The last verses are: “visit me / my dear brother / visit me / lost child / and take me with you / and home in my / mother's silver mat / and show me / where I will stay” Despite lower case and missing punctuation marks regular, almost folksy sounding rhythm (mainly here pentameter ) and the rhyme Education (child - find), which needs to be well-known as a specialty in the experimental work of Streeruwitz. The reviewer Ingrid Reichel describes the book as succinct

“Demonstration of how grief constricts your throat. There is no escape. The bare facts have popped on the empty table. The lyrical words "At the end of the twelfth hour" alone lull you into sleep, which promises relaxation for a few hours. This small-format, thin book with 50 pages of text hurls us into life with powerful lashes for an hour, puts us in deepest emotions, undresses us as best friends in front of our own mirror. A masterpiece."


The main character of the novel is for the first time a man, the billionaire and CEO Max, who is leaving his wife Lili. After a kind of self-discovery trip to Venice, on which he met the sausage artist Gianni (to whom he continued to be connected as a patron), he hired a marriage broker to arrange a perfect marriage of convenience. The chosen Francesca turns out to be a decoy in a plot, the masterminds of which remain unclear. Max flees into a new identity. The novel touches on the subject of sexuality and power in radical and ruthless language. How experimental the novel is - apart from the author's typical, sharply punctuated style - is shown in the appendix to chapter 9: It ends with the words "es geht so" (without punctuation marks at the end). Chapter can be resumed and continued. After the 10th, however, follows the continuation of the 9th chapter ("9th chapter (continuation)"), which also begins with the words "it is so", but continues the sentence differently than the previous 10th chapter.


With her 2014 novel Descendants. Streeruwitz has presented a fictional reflection on the darker sides of love. It tells of the self-destructive potential of origin and the lifelong search for one's own path, and at the same time paints a critical picture of the literary scene.

A young anarchist's journey through Greece.

Marlene Streeruwitz is now writing her first work as Nelia Fehn, protagonist from the previous novel Descendants. It is the story of the young woman's adventurous journey through crisis-ridden Greece.

“Actually, Cornelia wanted to think about her half-sister's ecoresort on Crete how her own life should go on after high school graduation. But then the trip to Athens to see her lover Marios becomes an adventurous odyssey through a world of constraints from the crisis and the losses it caused. Nelia Fehn wants everyone to know what it means to have to live with the consequences of national and international entanglements. "( S.Fischer )


In the adventure novel in 37 episodes, published in 2016, Streeruwitz describes the fast-paced journey of the heroine through a dystopian Italy. She makes the acquaintance of a retired CIA agent, a resistant aristocrat, a charming mafioso and militant thugs. At the same time, the life story of Yseut is rolled out in retrospective chapters.

“Yseut doesn't know what's going on here, but she doesn't give up and fights bravely. In the middle of the adventures, Yseut remembers the past life that brought her here. This trip will also turn out well. But as in Yseut's life so far, this victory will look completely different than expected. "( S. Fischer )

Wall of flames.

In the 416-page contemporary novel published by S. Fischer in 2019, a 50-year-old protagonist unfolds a "panorama of the political, personal and cultural history" of Austria in the head cinema. The intellectual penetration of a neoliberal tale of separation and alienation comes in the tried and tested " staccato Streeruwitz sound". The title Flammenwand refers to the " Divine Comedy " by Dante. At the transition from Christian purgatory to paradise you have to go through a wall of flames, which is "the place of modernity".


“I have strong reservations about the Foreign Minister in her official role. I remember Genoa, where she spoke contemptuously and denunciatory about the artists of the Austrian Volxtheaterkarawane . "

Works (selection)

  • Waikiki Beach. Sloane Square Two pieces. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1992, ISBN 3-518-11786-6 .
  • New York. New York. Elysian Park. Two pieces. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1993, ISBN 3-518-11800-5 .
  • Bagnacavallo. Brahmsplatz. Two pieces. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1995, ISBN 3-518-11988-5 .
  • Seductions. 3rd episode. Women years . Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1996 / Fischer Taschenbuchverlag, Frankfurt am Main 2002, ISBN 3-596-15619-X .
  • Be. And appearance. And show. Tübingen poetics lectures. 1997.
  • Can. To like. Allowed to. Should. Want. Have to. To let. Frankfurt poetics lectures. 1998.
  • Lisa's love. Novel collector's volume . Three episodes. Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1997 / Fischer Taschenbuchverlag, Frankfurt am Main 2000, ISBN 3-596-14756-5 .
  • Posterity. Novel. 1999.
  • Waikiki Beach. And other places. The plays. 1999.
  • Mayakowskiring. Narrative. 2000.
  • Norma Desmond. A Gothic SF Novel 2002.
  • Party girl. Novel. S. Fischer Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2002 / Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2003, ISBN 3-596-16096-0 .
  • Jessica, 30 . Novel. S. Fischer Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2004 / Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2006, ISBN 978-3-596-16136-2 .
  • Morire in Levitate. Novella. S. Fischer Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2004 / Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2006, ISBN 978-3-596-16578-0 .
  • Against the daily insult. Lectures. 2004.
  • Distance. Novel. S. Fischer Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2006, ISBN 3-10-074432-2 .
  • The evening after your best friend's funeral. Weissbooks, Frankfurt am Main 2008, ISBN 978-3-940888-23-5 .
  • Intersections. Novel. 2008, ISBN 978-3-10-074434-0 .
  • Picture girl. Collages. 2009.
  • I, Johanna Ey. Novel in 37 plates. 2009.
  • ON version. A video essay. 2010.
  • None of this will happen to me. How do I stay a feminist. 11 stories. 2010. (with a website belonging to the book )
  • The pain maker. Novel. S. Fischer Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2011, ISBN 978-3-10-074437-1 .
  • Offspring . S. Fischer Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2014, ISBN 978-3-10-074445-6 .
  • The journey of a young anarchist in Greece . S. Fischer Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2014, ISBN 978-3-10-002244-8 .
  • Poetics. Tübingen and Frankfurt lectures . Fischer Taschenbuch, Frankfurt am Main 2014, ISBN 978-3-596-19621-0 review
  • About Bertha von Suttner. Mandelbaum Verlag , Vienna 2014, ISBN 978-3-85476-447-2 .
  • Yseut. Novel. S. Fischer Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2016, ISBN 978-3-10-002516-6 .
  • Wall of flames. Novel. S. Fischer Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2019, ISBN 978-3-10-397385-3 .
  • This is how the world became. Novel. Bahoe Books , Vienna October 2020.


  • Theo Breuer : Twenty Days - Twenty Novels: A Book Game . In: Matrix . Journal for literature and art , 58th edition, Pop Verlag, Ludwigsburg 2019, pp. 7–167.
  • Sabine Harenberg: Conversation with Marlene Streeruwitz. In: Christina Kalkuhl, Wilhelm Solms (Ed.): Lustfallen. Erotic writing by women. Aisthesis, Bielefeld 2003, ISBN 978-3-89528-424-3 .
  • Nele Hempel: Marlene Streeruwitz. Violence and humor in the dramatic work. Stauffenburg, Tübingen 2001, ISBN 978-3-86057-213-9 .
  • Günther A. Höfler, Gerhard Melzer (Ed.): Dossier 27: Marlene Streeruwitz. Droschl, Graz 2008, ISBN 978-3-85420-732-0 .
  • Anush Köppert: Sex and Text. On the production / construction of female sexuality in contemporary women's literature around 2000. Stauffenburg, Tübingen 2012, ISBN 978-3-86057-224-5 , pp. 87–151.
  • Marlene Streeruwitz: The Cultural Revolution always comes from above! In: Eva Brenner (Ed.): Adaptation or Resistance: Free Theater Today. The loss of diversity. Promedia, Vienna 2013, ISBN 978-3-85371-364-8 , pp. 7-12.

Web links

Commons : Marlene Streeruwitz  - Collection of Images

Individual evidence

  1. Conversation with Frank Schmid, rbbKultur in the afternoon, June 3, 2020
  2. Marlene Streeruwitz: “Instead of an afterword. Marlene Streeruwitz in conversation with Christian Metz ”, in: Poetik. Tübingen and Frankfurt lectures . Fischer Taschenbuch, Frankfurt am Main 2014, ISBN 978-3-596-19621-0 , pp. 229–256, therein p. 247 for a review
  3. Andrea Heinz: Streeruwitz novel about turquoise-blue and a children's chancellor. In: Der Standard , May 29, 2019, accessed June 5, 2019.
  4. From woman to master. In: Deutschlandfunk Kultur , May 27, 2019 ( Podcast , Marlene Streeruwitz in conversation with Frank Meyer).
  5. a b Lisa Mayr: "The concept of the subject is not enough" In: Jungle World , April 21, 2004.
  6. Streeruwitz receives Meersburg Literature Prize . In: Salzburger Nachrichten . March 13, 2009.
  7. The laudation as pdf  ( 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.@1@ 2Template: Toter Link /  
  8. ^ The wording of the thanks from Streeruwitz ( Memento from January 9, 2010 in the Internet Archive )
  9. ^ Franz Nabl Prize 2015 . Retrieved October 16, 2015.
  10. The 20 nominees for the German Book Prize have been chosen. In: Spiegel Online . August 20, 2019. Retrieved August 20, 2019 .
  11. The Prize of the Literaturhäuser 2020 goes to Marlene Streeruwitz. In: January 15, 2020, accessed January 15, 2020 .