Günter Herburger was born in Isny in the Bavarian region of Allgäu in 1932. His father was a veterinarian. A pupil at the boarding school of Schelklingen, he became a student of philosophy and Sanskrit at the University of Munich in 1950, however, decided to abandon his studies in 1954. He travelled a great deal, living in Ibiza, Madrid, and Oran, until he returned to Munich in 1956. After being employed by the documentary film department of South German Radio (SDR) in Stuttgart, he made writing his main profession in 1963.
His first collection of short stories »Eine gleichmäßige Landschaft« (tr. An Even Landscape) hit the market in 1964. Herburger joined Group 47 in the same year. He published his first anthology of poetry in 1966. »Ventile« (tr. Valves) offers glimpses of everyday life, snapshots of people from different social classes who hide behind the smoothened surface of consumption and suppress their vitality. Herburger moved to Berlin in 1967, where he met other writers and encountered the emerging students’ movement. He became involved in the German Communist Party DKP, and stayed in East Germany for study purposes. After returning to Munich in 1973 he started working on his »Thuja-Trilogie«, which would keep him busy for 18 years. The trilogy consists of more than 2,000 pages of reflections concerning contemporary times and a potential future for the Federal Republic of Germany: narrative strands interweave one another, themes are taken up and let go again, locations alternate. »I am sitting in a fairy tale office writing test drafts, which strive from the present towards the future.« Also in the 1970s Herburger made himself a name as a writer of children’s books: »Birne« (tr. The Pear) is a collection of socially critical and anti-authoritarian bedtime stories he made up for his son. By consciously waiving your typical children’s language, he underlines his understanding of children as equal partners. He also created the new genre of photographic novelas in the »Trilogie der Verschwendung« (tr. The Trilogy of Extravagance) (»Das Glück«, tr. Happiness, 1994; »Die Liebe«, tr. Love, 1996; »Der Tod«, tr. Death, 2006), narrations, which are based on a combination of his own texts and photographs. The permanent explorer of all continents published four travel novellas in 2001, which were published, together with his pictures and as an homage to Alexander von Humboldt under the title of »Humboldt«. His anthology of poems »Der Kuss« (tr. The Kiss) (2008) is dedicated to the creation of surreal image worlds and a liberal way of employing stylistic means. His recent collection of poetry »Ein Loch in der Landschaft« (tr. A Hole in the Landscape) reminds us of the major motifs of the world as experienced by Herburger: love, death, disease, disability, as well as social issues and questions of the future, which have always been on his mind.
Günter Herburger has received numerous awards, including the Peter Huchel Prize, the Literary Award of the City of Munich and the Johann Friedrich von Cotta Literary Award. He lives in Berlin.
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