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President of Freie Universität Congratulates Herta Müller on the Nobel Prize in Literature

Nobel Laureate Was First Heiner Müller Professor at Freie Universität

№ 267/2009 from Oct 08, 2009

The president of Freie Universität Berlin, Professor Dr. Dieter Lenzen, congratulated Herta Müller for being awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. "Freie Universität is delighted with this great honor for Herta Müller, who in 2005 was the first Heiner Müller Professor at Freie Universität," stated Lenzen. He continued, "The Heiner Müller Endowed Chair was awarded Herta Müller by Freie Universität in cooperation with the Stiftung Preußische Seehandlung in recognition of her literary memory work, or – as stated by the jury: Herta Müller’s narration has been an important contribution to the literary cornerstone for a new Europe that cannot exist without an awareness of the suffering of dictatorships and humiliations caused by them."

At Freie Universität, whose prominent position in the humanities has just been confirmed by the rankings of the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the Times Higher Education, the constant exchange in science and art is a central concern for both research and the training of the next generation of scholars. As Lenzen concluded his congratulatory letter to the Nobel laureate, "The seminar discussions with you, Herta Müller, offered our students and young writers a unique opportunity to explore the possibilities and limits of language, of what can be said, with a great writer."

Professor Peter André Alt, Professor of Modern German Literature and Director of Dahlem Research School at Freie Universität, commented as follows on the Nobel Prize for the Heiner Müller Professor: "Herta Müller is a writer, who draws her command of language from the distrust of language; from discomfort with the stylistically familiar and seemingly self-evident; from the attempt to carry language to the limit of its possible accuracy, presence, and expressiveness. This extraordinary ability makes her a writer in a great tradition, following the footsteps of Rilke, Elias Canetti, and Paul Celan. It is no accident that they, like Herta Müller, grew up on the edges of German-speaking areas, in those regions where language and identity, form a vulnerable unity, put to the test again and again by the political terror of the 20th century."

The Heiner Müller Visiting Professorship for German Literature held by Herta Müller during the 2005 summer semester at the Peter Szondi Institute of Comparative Literature at Freie Universität Berlin is endowed with the Berlin Literature Prize in the amount of 30,000 euros. It is awarded annually by the Stiftung Preußische Seehandlung. The award goes to writers whose literary works have made a substantial contribution to the development of German contemporary literature in the areas of lyric poetry, narrative prose, or drama.