Christoph Meckel Analysis

Other Literary Forms

(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

Christoph Meckel first gained renown and critical acclaim for his poetry, which appeared in such collections as Nebelhörner (1959), Wildnisse (1962), and Säure (1978); he is continually praised as one of the leading poets in contemporary German literature. Furthermore, his graphic art has appeared in more than thirty one-man exhibitions on three continents and has been published in various cycles as woodcuts, engravings, and drawings under several titles, such as Moël (1959) and Das Meer (1965), which consist of prints, and Anabasis (1982), which consists of prints and poetry. He has also written several radio plays and essays. His long fiction includes Bockshorn (1973), Die Messingstadt (1991), and Shalamuns Papiere: Roman (1992).


(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

Christoph Meckel has been most highly regarded for his poetry, having received the prestigious Rainer Maria Rilke Prize for Poetry (1979) and the Georg Trakl Prize of the City of Salzburg (1982), as well as a dozen other prizes or subventions for his writings and honors for his graphic art. In fact, as early as the 1950’s, he began creating prose fiction, as well as poetry and visual art. Meckel’s early prose works drew curious interest and mixed critical acclaim, earning for him the reputation of a fantast, a comic, even a dilettante. Individual short stories were initially placed with various periodicals or appeared in special printings with small publishing houses. The success of his more serious fiction, such as Licht and Suchbild, has caused him to be recognized as a major writer, and his works have regularly appeared with major West German publishers.


(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

Bedwell, Carol B. “Bread and Brilliance: Utility Versus Poetic Ecstasy in Meckel’s ‘Der Zünd.’” Seminar: A Journal of Germanic Studies 20 (November, 1984): 290-298. The author provides a close reading of an early story by Meckel and focuses on the creative process as one of its themes.

Grant, Alyth. “When Is Biography an Autobiography? Questions of Genre and Narrative Style in Christoph Meckel’s Suchbild.” Seminar: A Journal of Germanic Studies 26 (September, 1990): 189-204. Grant finds that Meckel’s Suchbild is a mixed genre work, that it not only presents his father’s story but also reveals much about the author himself. An analysis of Meckel’s narrative style reveals that he employs two distinct styles, one for the biographical and one for the autobiographical sections of the book.

Hanlin, Todd C. “A Biography for the ‘New Sensibility’: Christoph Meckel’s Allegorical Suchbild.” German Life and Letters 39 (1986): 235-244. Hanlin discusses Meckel’s Suchbild as a merging of two forms of biography, that of the artist and that of the parent, and sees the work both as an allegory of the behavior of the fathers during the Nazi period and an allusion to the potential danger in the “indifference” and “inertia” of the author’s own contemporaries.

Rockwood, Heidi M. “Writing as a Magician’s Game: The Strange Early World of Christoph Meckel.” Studies in Twentieths Century Literature 8 (Spring, 1984): 197-210. Rockwood focuses on Meckel’s use of the metaphor of “playing a game” in four of his short stories and concludes that the author, while recognizing its possible dangerous implications, nevertheless regards the element of play as essential for retaining one’s “basic humanity.”

Shapiro, David. “The Figure on the Boundary Line.” The New York Times Book Review (November 25, 1984): 8. This review of the first book-length English translation of Meckel’s work provides a good insight into a limited selection of the author’s better known stories.