Lübeck’s Literary Treasure Trove

Literature in Lübeck


We’re opening the gate to the literary city of Lübeck, a place full of literary treasures just waiting to be discovered! Immerse yourself in the world of Thomas Mann and Günter Grass and acquaint yourself with other authors from the Hanseatic city. Why not explore the city’s independent bookshops and visit the historic city library? Although don’t be fooled by its appearance, the library has certainly arrived in the digital age. Bookmark the numerous literary events throughout the year and experience what makes Lübeck so unique. Do you love classical literature, or are you looking for new literary adventures? We look forward to accompanying you on your literary voyage of discovery. Bookmarks at the ready!

To read is to dream through another’s hand.

Fernando Pessoa


© Buddenbrookhaus


Thomas Mann reached the pinnacle of German narrative art 100 years ago with his masterpiece “The Magic Mountains.” Exactly 25 years ago, Günter Grass was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature for his life’s work.

The “Year of the Magic Mountain” is accompanied through a varied program. For example, the St. Anne’s Museum is opening two exhibitions on the novel. One, representing the cultural-historical and literary aspects of the novel and the other an artistic interpretation. In addition, there will be lecture series, readings, films and public discussions, as well as collaborations with the theatre, the Nordic Film Days Lübeck and the Musikhochschule (University of Music). The Günter Grass House is celebrating the 25-year anniversary of his Nobel Prize in Literature win with a multifaceted annual exhibition “GRASS TANZBAR.” Here, all your senses are stimulated to experience the times and dances that moved Günter Grass and his contemporaries. The supporting programme is just as diverse: with smaller events such as poetry slams, or the main crescendo “Lübeck dances WITH EACH OTHER” at the HanseKulturFestival.



Heinrich Mann

Heinrich Mann’s 1905 novel ‘Small Town Tyrant,’ famous in German as ‘Professor Unrat’, offers a satirical portrayal of society in imperial Germany and a critical examination of the double standards of bourgeois society. The main protagonist, Professor Raat, is an extremely loyal high school teacher living in Lübeck. He tries to prove that a rebellious pupil is living a life of debauchery, but in doing so, he himself ends up on a morally questionable path. He falls for a bar singer, marries her and allows her to run an entertainment establishment in his house. This way of life ultimately leads to his social downfall. The book was translated into English by Ernest Boyd and appears under the title ‘Small Town Tyrant’ or ‘the Blue Angel,’ the latter of which was the title of a film based on the book.

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Thomas Mann

The story of the old Lübeck noble family Buddenbrook begins around 1830 with the old Johann Buddenbrook and ends with his great-grandson, little Hanno. It includes parties, gatherings, baptisms, deaths, weddings, divorces, business successes and the heartless, unstoppable blows of decline in merchant life. Little Hanno, with his gaze turned inwards, listens attentively to the inner spiritual world from which the music he makes stems. He has the potential to be a great artist, but it isn’t fulfilled. The book was originally translated into English in 1924, and has been translated a number of times since.

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Günter Grass

In the 1977 novel ‘The Flounder,’ translated from the German publication ‘Der Butt,’ a flounder fish bargains for his life by promising a fisherman to show him how to reconstruct history, so that it is men who can write it. The narrative spans from the bloody conflicts of the Stone Age to those using modern intercontinental missiles. While the male protagonist (reincarnated several times) lives through the turmoil of the times, his partner Ilsebill (also reincarnated several times) ensures real progress by fighting hunger. Eventually, a women’s tribunal in Berlin in 1974 sets a limit on the men and the Flounder, since it’s now women who want to write history. However, a third way, that of joint emancipation, promises a more hopeful future. This third way then materializes in the form of a child, who is born unconcerned despite his parents’ failed relationship.

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Inger-Maria Mahlke

Historical Lübeck family novel, which was presented in HL during the LiteraTour Nord 2023

Inger-Maria Mahlke’s novel ‘Unsereins’ sheds light on the life of a German family over three generations. The story interweaves fates and secrets that span from the time of the Second World War to present day. It shows the changes in society and the personal developments of the protagonists, confronting issues such as family ties and identity through the course of time. It is yet to be published in English.

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Volker Weidermann

Weidermann’s novel ‘Mann vom Meer’ focuses on the writer Thomas Mann. For him, the sea was a place of longing throughout his life and serves as a central theme throughout the book. It all starts in the Brazilian jungle, right by the sea where Mann’s mother spent her childhood. After growing up in Lübeck, Mann then travels to Italy. His exile of the Pacific transforms him into a fighter for democracy and freedom. This theme continues after his death when his daughter, a renowned oceanographer, continues his legacy with a utopian oceanic policy. An English version of the book is not yet available.

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Svealena Kutschke

Lucie is born on a winter’s night in the Trace with a gift that holds blessings and curses for generations to come. In ‘Stadt aus Rauch,’ Kutschke unfolds a fascinating family drama in which the turmoil of the 20th century casts a long shadow over the family. The story reveals the tragedy of a century characterized by loud-mouthed denunciators and humbled heroes, by bureaucrats of crime and impostors of art, by seduction of fascism and by the silence of those who believe they are blameless. The book has not yet been translated into English.

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.. und die Revaler Chronik from Indrek Hargla

In 1432, while the city of Reval was preparing for the Corpus Christi celebrations, a mysterious city chronicle was discovered in the Franciscan monastery. When several murders occur afterwards, council pharmacist Melchior Wakenstede realizes that they must be connected to the chronicle. While his father investigates in Reval, Melchior Junior starts looking for a new teacher in Lübeck. However, he starts to notice that mysterious things are happening in the Hanseatic city also, and he becomes entangled in love, crime and retribution. There is currently no English translation of this book.

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Jobst Schlennstedt

Lübecker author Schlennstedt is known for his crime stories in Germany, in which he combines current socially critical topics with suspense. His work ‘Lübsche Wut’ tells the story of Ralf Blum, who bleeds to death under mysterious circumstances in Lauerhof prison. Chief Inspector Birger Andresen and his colleague take on the case, since there are indications of threats against Blum. Andresen discovers a web of entanglements extending right up to the highest political circles in Schleswig-Holstein. The murder of a former public prosecutor who was involved in the Blum case makes it clear that even more people are in danger. This book is currently only available in German.

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Eva Almstädt

With the Pia Korittki series, Almstädt transports readers to the Baltic Sea in her exciting crime novels, which are enjoyed not only by Baltic Sea residents. In ‘Englesgrube’, detective Pia Korittki is confronted with two mysterious murders in the alleyways and vaults of the historic Old Town of Lübeck. The murder weapons, an antique stiletto and an army revolver, look like props in a bloody theatre piece. During her investigations, Pia Korittki draws ever wider and more dangerous circles, unaware that she has become entangled in a deadly game of cat and mouse. An English version of the book is not currently available.

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Henning Mützlitz

In Mützlitz’s historical crime novel, set in Lübeck in 1376, the merchant’s son Jacob Wallersen takes over the family business. He inherits numerous debts and dubious business relationships, which threaten to drag the family into a maelstrom of debt and violence. On the way home to Lübeck, the family’s last shop comes under threat when the pirates of Gotland, who are after their valuable cargo, lay in wait for the sailors. A desperate race against time begins for Jacob. There is currently no English translation of this book.

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Salvatore Satta

Set in a tuberculosis sanatorium in Italy around 100 years ago, Satta describes the lives of patients who do not know if they will ever be able to leave the clinic. Friendships and enmities, love, jealousy, fear, envy, longing and despair characterise the forced community in a confined space. If you think of Thomas Mann's "Magic Mountain", you are not wrong. Both authors are working on the same theme at the same time, without knowing each other.

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Yvonne Struck

Lisa believes that true love only looks inwards. Strangely, she still hasn't found Mr Right. That's why her friend Mareike signs her up for an online date on the website The Voice of Love. The rules: the camera stays off and there is no information about looks, profession or financial status. Instead, there are just two voices talking about what really matters in life. Jonas is there on a bet to prove to his friends that looks are not important on a date. According to the computer, Lisa and Jonas are a perfect match and things soon start to sizzle. But then, without realising it, they meet in the flesh...

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