The Countess's 2,000 Unexpected Pages

There was a time when Countess Lichnowsky was said to be the most important living writer in the German language. She came from the aristocratic von und zu Arco-Zinneberg family and was Maria Theresia’s great-great-great-granddaughter.

She composed, drew, painted…

But after her death in London in 1958 she was completely forgotten.

She didn’t know Eva Menasse at first either, but studied Mechtilde Lichnowsky in detail.

Your foreword is a successful stimulus, one is impatient for what is to come: almost 2,000 pages in four volumes, weighing almost three kilos. A beautiful language is coming – a little gray and beautiful: the creative countess adored the language critic (and know-it-all) Karl Kraus and was adored by Rainer Maria Rilke – so there is something to discover.

Something unexpected, original, surprising – “day in, day out, year in, year out, life in, life out”.

It doesn’t matter whether Lichnowsky reported on her trip to Egypt, whether she wrote a novel about her childhood or about a “caretaker tantrum” that had to be overcome.

When her first husband died, a prince, and she fell into nothingness (as she writes), she took the “life contract” with her dachshund Lurch even more seriously: This complete reliance on the partner led to the very best of her novel “An der Leine”. (from 1930, Volume 3 in “Werke”), in which she comes from the dog to the human being.

This is where her philosophy can be found, according to which “the leash is permanently imposed on us.” Health, destiny, environment of birth, profession – all these are the leashes in God’s hands. We are also on the leash of the banker, the state, the waiter… and especially the hairdresser.

Mechtilde Lichnowsky: “Factories”
Published by
G√ľnter Haentzschel and
Hiltrud Haentzschel.
With an essay by Eva Menasse.
Zsolnay publishing house.
Four volumes in slipcase.
872 pages.
61.70 euros

KURIER rating: **** and half a star

Leave a Reply