Wilhelm Raabe’s Lifeworks Prize

BraunschweigIn the Leonardstrasse street in Germany, there is a house that still holds its former resident’s name Wilhelm Raabe. In the intense debate of the city of Braunshcweig’s boar for Literature preservation, the decision was made to not only rejuvenate the old house of German’s famous writer but to build a new one as well. All this is only possible because of the increasing numbers of admirers of his work.

Wilhelm Raabe was born in a small district of the duchy of Brunswick, in a town called Escherhausen. He entered a bookstore after attending the gymnasia in Wolfenbuttel, and soon became the apprentice in 1849. He found this opportunity perfect for richening and brightening his literary skills and learn more about the folklore and local tales of other countries but also his own. He stayed in the position of apprentice until 1854, so he had five years to dedicate himself to what will be his lifework in the future.

raabe-wilhelm-1955-die-chronik-der-sperlingsgasse-a1He started studying philosophy at Berlin from 1855 until 1857, after the routine at the bookstore became too tiring and monotonous. He published his first work while studying philosophy. He used a pseudonym and published “Die Chronik der Sperlingsgasse in 1857 at the end of studying days. This book gained great popularity, due to its illustrious overview of German bourgeoisie in simple sketches.

Realizing how big of a success this newly released book became, he was encouraged to leave the studies for good and entirely dedicate his life to literary work. Shortly after leaving philosophy studies he returned to Wolfenbuttel, only to realize that Stuttgart is the city for him in which he lived from 1862-1870. After this short adventure, Raabe returned to Brunswick remaining active and writing and publishing 30 novels and a small number of short stories and sketches until the end of the century.

His life work and reputation were enough to the town of Brunswick and the local radio station to organize prize rewarding system bearing his name that we know today as Wilhelm Raabe literature prize.

ricarda-huch-altersportraetThe first awarded prize was presented to Ricarda Huch in 1944. The awarding ceremony was then organized every 2 to 3 years counting 1947’s winner Fritz von Unruh, 1948’s Werner Bergengruen and other that achieved recognition in continuing events. It wasn’t until 2010 that the prize awarding events took hold in the repetition of every year to this day. Clemens J. Setz was the 2015’s winner of Wilhelm Raabe literature prize, with his new novel “Die Stunde Zwischen Frau un Gitarre” or the hours between woman and guitar.

All the novelists that were nominated for the prize were greatly inspired by Wilhelm’s life work that had so much influence on their work. It is no surprise that this legendary German novelist continues to be a role model novelist for today’s generations. The major of the city Braunschweig and the member of leading board of local radio’s program has been a big factor in contributing to this event. There are still many novelists that are hoping to be awarded this honor of Wilhelm’s Raabe Literal prize.

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    Wilhelm Raabe

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