Politics and literature under one roof

The Swiss essayist Peter von Matt knows how to make literature and politics a pleasure for his readers.

This content was published on January 22, 2003 - 17:55

The retired professor of literature is considered one of the best contemporary Swiss writers.

The German newspaper Frankfurter Rundschau's describes Matt's book 'The Blue-Ink Swiss Confederates: Literature and Politics in Switzerland' as the best reference book for Switzerland, the Swiss, their politics, literature and psychology.

In his award-winning book von Matt guides us through the history of Swiss literature and its relationship to politics from Jeremias Gotthelf to Adolf Muschg.

The book includes approximately two dozen articles, newspaper items and speeches on Switzerland and its poets.

He incisively analyzes the country and its people, politics and literature, as well as Switzerland and its national myths.

A poet himself

For the Swiss-German newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung Peter von Matt belongs "to the few essayists who have become authors themselves while writing about poets and fiction."

Even the most renowned German literature expert, Marcel Reich-Ranicki, calls von Matt as "the best contemporary Swiss writer." Many literary critics currently place von Matt right after Dürrenmatt and Frisch.

Cabinet minister, Moritz Leuenberger, also has von Matt's award-winning book on his bedside table.

It is not the book's intention to discourage people from reading the works discussed in it, it rather aims at making people understand these books and their authors.

Von Matt has been a writer since 1965 and was most creative during the 80ies and 90ies. Since 1991 he has received several national and international awards.

Son of a bookseller

Born in 1937 as the son of a Lucerne bookseller, von Matt grew up surrounded by literature. He later studied German and English literature and history of art at the universities of Zurich, Nottingham and London.

From 1976 to 2002, Peter von Matt was professor of modern German literature at the University of Zurich. He was also a visiting professor at the universities of Berne, Basel and Stanford in the United States.

He is a member of various academies in Germany and works as a literary critic and publicist mainly for the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and the Swiss-German Neue Zürcher Zeitung.

He lives in Dübendorf, in canton Zurich with his wife, who is also a journalist. The fact that Peter von Matt was awarded this prize in his birthplace of Lucerne marks a full circle in the author's life.

swissinfo, Christian Raaflaub

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