Ludwig Harig, The Trip to Bordeaux, Trans. by Susan Bernofsky. Burning Deck, 2003.
Four adults, a child and a cat travel from Germany to Bordeaux. Harig tells their adventures in humorous permutations, word-games, Baroquisms, confrontations, catalogs: anything but straightforward narrative. He even rings the changes on snippets of philosophical discourse lifted from Montaigne — who was once mayor of Bordeaux and whose motto, “What do I know?,” is perhaps the real location all the fun takes us to. It’s a riotous tale, with just enough of a narrative thread to keep us reading. And exhilarated.
“Among modern authors who use experimental writing in order totally to change conventional genres Ludwig Harig’s place is preeminent.”— Max Bense
“One of our most loveable and fidgety narrators is Ludwig Harig, a mountebank bursting with ideas, an acrobat of connection, a hereditary tenant on the estates of humor and a juggler of language”— Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
Review by W. Martin
Ludwig Harig was born in Sulzbach/Saarland in 1927. After being an “assistant d’allemand” in Lyon and a grade school teacher, he has, since 1974, lived as a freelance writer. In the 1950s he was part of the experimental “Stuttgart School” around Max Bense. The 1960s saw him branching out into different genres, in particular the radio play, and by the late 1970s he had developed the self-reflexive, playful, but realistic chronicler's style that characterizes his late work. He is best known for his autobiographical trilogy: Ordnung ist das ganze Leben (1986), Weh dem, der aus der Reihe tanzt (1990), and Wer mit den Wölfen heult wird Wolf (1996), a sarcastic panorama of German history 1914-1945, as reflected in the life of a family near the Franco-German border.