Raoul Schrott [ Austria ]
The Austrian writer, translator, and literary critic Raoul Schrott was born in 1964 in Landeck in Tirol. The son of foreign sales agents, he grew up in Tirol, Tunis, and Zürich and studied languages and literature in Norwich, Paris, Berlin, and Innsbruck. From 1986 until 1987, he was the secretary for Philippe Soupault in Paris. In 1988, Schrott wrote his doctoral dissertation titled »Dada 1921−1922« and in 1998 he was promoted to a professorship at the Institute for Comparative Literature at the University of Innsbruck. In his 1997 anthology »The Invention of Poetry«, Schrott traced the development of European poetry over four thousand years to its origins, thereby establishing himself as a fervent apologist of poetry.
His literary accomplishments encompass various genres. Between 1995 and 2003, he published his novels »Finis Terrae«, the fictional travelogue of an archaeologist, and »Tristan da Cunha«, named for an island in the southern Atlantic which serves as a Sehnsuchtsort (place of longing) for four protagonists whose life paths cross there. He also published the short story »Khamsin«, the novella »Die Wüste Lop Nor«, and the collections of poems »Hotels«, »Tropen. Über das Erhabene« and »Weissbuch. Über das Heilige«. In many of his works, the desert is on the one hand a literary object through which Schrott tests the conceivability of nature, and on the other hand the representation of unfulfilled longing in the form of an inaccessible landscape. Schrott’s poetic philosophy included the call not to surrender truth to philosophers and scientists, since »the physis of nature is poetry’s only true counterpart with which it must grapple again and again if poetry means to show truth.« In his collection of essays, »Handbuch der Wolkenputzerei« (2005), Schrott proved himself to be not only a theorist of poetic craft but also a critic of the feuilleton: »There a dialectic of mere tastes is exercised, while structures of the work itself are enthusiastically overlooked.« Schrott was particularly criticized most often for his translations – e. g the epic of »Gilgamesh« (2001) −, which led to hot debates with his critics. Schrott however declared that his intentions were not to compete scholarly editions, but rather »to give antique poems a corresponding modern style adequate to its original intention.« From 2005 until 2008, he worked on a new rendering of »The Illiad«. In connection with this his thesis on Homer and Troy appeared in 2007: »Homers Heimat. Über die realen Hintergründe des troianischen Krieges«. His collaboration with the neuroscientist Arthur Jacobs of the Excellencecluster »Languages of Emotion« at the FU Berlin was published in 2011: »Gehirn und Gedicht. Wie wir unsere Wirklichkeiten konstruieren«.
For his work, Raoul Schrott has been honored with numerous prizes, among them the Land Kärnten Prize at the Bachmann-Competition, the Berlin Literature Prize, the Peter Huchel Prize for Lyric Poetry, the Literature Prize of the City Mainz and the Joseph-Breitbach-Prize. Today he lives in Austria.
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