The Austrian Writer Christoph Ransmayr : An European Master of Fantastika

    “Austrian author born in 1954 (Wels, Upper Austria), who studied philosophy and ethnology in Vienna from 1972 to 1978, later resident in Ireland, whose second novel, “Die letzte Welt

    (1988; trans John E Woods as “The Last World: A Novel with an Ovidian Repertory”, 1990), is an allegorical fantasy in which a search for Ovid in exile metamorphoses into a dialogue between the authoritarian terror of Rome and the water margins of life on the frontier of things; contemporary images intersect constantly with images from Ovid’s dying world.

    Of SF interest is “Morbus Kitahara” (1995; trans John E Woods as “The Dog King”, 1997), an Alternate History in which, after World War Two, Germany is deindustrialized, and a kind of endless half-war continues to ravage the desiccated terrain, inscribing indelible signatures of defeat.

    There is a Modernist defiance in Ransmayr’s transformations of the clichés that designate the contemporary world that may share roots of inspiration with the early paintings of Gerhard Richter (b.1932); by all means Ransmayr is a comfortable creator of Fantastika.”

     “Cox oder Der Lauf der Zeit” (Cox or Run of Time) is a 2016 novel by the Austrian writer Christoph Ransmayr. It is set in the 18th century and features the English master clockmaker Alister Cox, who is invited by the Qianlong Emperor to come and work in the Forbidden City, where he is given a succession of seemingly impossible requests.

    Qianlong, the fourth Emperor of the Qing Dynasty, so one begins to suspect as a reader, is not only ruler of a mighty army, possessor of a tremendous wealth, of twelve wives and more than three thousand concubines. He, characteristically called “Lord of the Ten Thousand Years“, also commands over the time of his subjects. And in the most extensive sense. Because even Qianlong determines the weather and the seasons, by officially determining when summer and when winter is. The Emperor of China actually does not want a watch that measures the passage of time. He rather wants a time machine that puts him back in his own childhood.

    Gisa Funck of Deutschlandfunk wrote: “In ‘Cox oder Der Lauf der Zeit‘, Ransmayr describes the clash between two highly different cultures. And a strength of this in several respects masterful novel lies in how he tells us about the strangeness of the Chinese empire, without suppressing the local perspective.”

    The French translation was longlisted for the 2017 Prix Femina in the foreign novel category.


    “Strahlender Untergang”/Radiant Downfall (together with Willy Puchner), 1982

    “Die Schrecken des Eises und der Finsternis”/The Terrors of Ice and Darkness, 1984

    “Die letzte Welt”/The Last World, 1988

    “Morbus Kitahara”/Kitahara’s Disease/The Dog King, 1995

    “Der Weg nach Surabaya”/The Way to Surabaya, 1997

    “Die dritte Luft, oder Eine Bühne am Meer”/The Third Air, or A Stage by the Sea, 1997

    “Die Unsichtbare. Tirade an drei Stränden”/The Invisible. Tirade on Three Beaches, 2001

    “Der Ungeborene, oder Die Himmelsareale des Anselm Kiefer”/The Unborn, or The Sky Spaces of Anselm Kiefer, 2002

    “Die Verbeugung des Riesen. Vom Erzählen”/The Reverence of the Giant, 2003

    “Geständnisse eines Touristen. Ein Verhör”/Confessions of a Tourist. An Interrogation, 2004

    “Der fliegende Berg”/The Flying Mountain, 2006

    “Damen & Herren unter Wasser”/Ladies and Gentlemen Under Water (together with Manfred Wakolbinger)

    “Odysseus, Verbrecher. Schauspiel einer Heimkehr”/Odysseus, Criminal. Play of a Homecoming, 2010

    “Der Wolfsjäger. Drei polnische Duette”/The Wolf Hunter. Three Polish Duets (together with Martin Pollack), 2011

    “Atlas eines ängstlichen Mannes”/Atlas of an Anxious Man, 2012

    “Gerede: Elf Ansprachen”/Gossip: Eleven Speeches, 2014

    “Cox oder Der Lauf der Zeit”/Cox or The Run of Time, 2016

    English editions

    The Terrors of Ice and Darkness”, 1991, translated by John E. Woods

    The Last World”, 1991, translated by John E. Woods

    The Dog King”, 1997, translated by John E. Woods

    Atlas of an Anxious Man”, 2016, translated by Simon Pare

    The Flying Mountain”, 2018, translated by Simon Pare


    1986-1988 Elias Canetti Fellowship

    1988 Anton Wildgans Prize

    1992 Großer Literaturpreis der Bayerischen Akademie der Schönen Künste

    1995 Franz-Kafka-Preis

    1995 Franz-Nabl-Preis

    1996 Aristeion Prize for the novel “Morbus Kitahara”

    1997 Solothurner Literaturpreis

    1997 Kulturpreis des Landes Oberösterreich

    1998 Friedrich-Hölderlin-Preis

    2001 Nestroy-Theaterpreis

    2004 Bertolt-Brecht-Literaturpreis

    2004 Großer Österreichischer Staatspreis für Literatur

    2010 28° Preis Gambrinus “Giuseppe Mazzotti”

    2013 Donauland Sachbuchpreis

    2013 Ernst-Toller-Preis

    2013 Brothers Grimm Prize of the City of Hanau for “Atlas of an Anxious Man”

    2014 Fontane-Preis für Literatur der Stadt Neuruppin for “Atlas of an Anxious Man”

    2015 Prix Jean Monnet de Littérature Européenne for “Atlas of an Anxious Man”

    2015 Prix du Meilleur livre étranger for “Atlas of an Anxious Man”

    Disclaimer : All excerpts and images used are for non-commercial illustrative purposes. The images used in this site’s posts are found from different sources all over the Internet, and are assumed to be in public domain and are displayed under the fair use principle.


    Latest articles

    Related articles