Swiss author Adolf Muschg has received the nation’s highest literary award in a ceremony that highlighted his spirited humanism and dedication to literature and homeland.
The 80-year-old writer, who lives in Männedorf, near Zurich, received the Grand Prix for Swiss literature from Interior Minister Alain Berset at the National Library in Bern on Thursday night. The prize comes with a purse of CHF40,000.
“With a tirelessly critical spirit, Adolf Muschg penned a rich body of work composed of novels and essays on literature, Europe, Japan, Gottfried Keller or Goethe,” the federal literature jury, chaired by Dominik Müller, wrote.
Berset described Muschg as a “specialist of questioning” and “an advocate of historical consciousness”, someone for whom patriotism meant both a dedicated and constantly inquisitive attitude toward a complex landscape of temporal and philosophical contrasts.
Muschg, who is a longtime member and past chair of the Academy of Arts in Berlin, studied German, English and philosophy at Zurich and Cambridge. He taught in Zurich, Germany, Japan and the United States. From 1970 to 1999, he was professor of language and literature at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich. In 2004, he also received Germany’s Federal Cross of Merit.
On his website, Muschg instructs those seeking to contact him to stick to professional inquiries because “time matters, and at my age, I can`t afford to trade this most precious resource of life and work (including leisure) for the endless temptations of the internet.”
Seven other authors also received 2015 Swiss literature prizes. Dorothee Elmiger, Eleonore Frey, Hanna Johansen, Guy Krneta, Frédéric Pajak, Claudia Quadri and Noëlle Revaz were awarded for their works published between October 2013 and October 2014.