Critical Mass

The Critical Library: Arno Widmann


Each week, the National Book Critics Circle will post a list of five books a critic believes reviewers should have in their libraries. We recently heard from German critic Arno Widmann. Here are the books he pointed out as worth tracking down and putting in your library.

Dante Alighieri: Convivio (1303-1306): Never try being systematic. You will shipwreck as Dante did! Never trust the analysis an author makes of his own work!

Edgar Allan Poe: The purloined letter (1844): Literary works hide their secrets on the surface. Keep your eyes on the obvious.

Marcel Proust: Pastiches et Melanges (1919): In literature as in painting understanding comes with copying

Thomas Mann: Leiden und Groesse Richard Wagners (1933):
To find the truth you need love and the courage to contradict your love.

Albrecht Schoene: Goetterzeichen, Liebeszauber, Satanskult – Neue Einblicke in alte Goethetexte (1982): Even the best analysed texts can be ununderstood

Arno Widmann, born in 1946 in Frankfurt/Main Germany, studied Philosophy, Sociology, History and Anthropology in Frankfurt/Main. Since 1979 he works in journalism. He was cofounder of the left-wing “die tageszeitung” (taz), vice-editor in chief of german Vogue, chief of the cultural pages of “Die Zeit”, chief of the opinion page of “Berliner Zeitung”. Now he is responsible for the cultural pages of “Frankfurter Rundschau”.