Freie Universität Berlin

Service Navigation

Representations of Climate in Literature

French Writer and Translator Cécile Wajsbrot Is Samuel Fischer Visiting Professor at Freie Universität Berlin

№ 382/2014 from Nov 03, 2014

The French writer and translator Cécile Wajsbrot is the Samuel Fischer Visiting Professor at the Peter Szondi Institute of Comparative Literature at Freie Universität Berlin during the 2014/15 winter semester. She is holding a seminar entitled "Climat," which deals with the description and analysis of climatic representations in various literary texts. She will be giving an inaugural lecture, which will be open to the public. It will be given in German on December 10. Admission is free. The title is Echos eines Spaziergangs in der Künstler-Kolonie [Echo of a walk in the artist colony].

Cécile Wajsbrot was born in Paris in 1954. She majored in literary studies in Paris and worked as a French teacher, literary critic, and an editor at Nouvelles Littéraires and Le Magazine Littéraire. She has been a freelance writer since 1989 and has published 13 novels in France, as well as several essays, short stories, and radio plays.

Wajsbrot is the daughter of Polish Jews, and the Shoah is an important theme in her literary works. Starting with the history of her family, Wajsbrot depicts the persecution of European Jews, the politics of memory, and dealing with the past. Remembering and silence, emigration and exile, communication and lack of understanding are central themes in several of her novels: Caspar-Friedrich-Strasse (2002), La trahison (1997), and Memorial (2008). Wajsbrot's essay Pour la littérature (2013) was widely discussed. In the essay she investigates the destination of literature in our time, her relationship to writing in the tension between individual experience and embeddedness in history. L’ hydre de Lerne (2012) is a personal and unsparing report about the Alzheimer’s disease of her father. Since 2006 she has been working on a cycle of novels, Haute Mer, in which she explores art and the aesthetics of reception. So far the series has four novels, including most recently Totale éclipse (2014).

Cécile Wajsbrot has translated Virginia Woolf, Marcel Beyer, Gert Ledig, Peter Kurzeck, Wolfgang Büscher, and other authors to French. In 2014 she won the Eugen Helmlé Translation Prize for her "haunting, subtle, and precise re-creations" (according to the award committee) from German to French. In 2007 Cécile Wajsbrot was a guest of the DAAD Berlin Artists' Program. She lives in Paris and Berlin.

The Samuel Fischer Visiting Professorship was set up in 1998 at the Peter Szondi Institute of Comparative Literature by the S. Fischer Verlag, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), Freie Universität Berlin, and the Lecture Forum of the Georg von Holtzbrinck Publishing Group. Each semester an internationally acclaimed writer from abroad teaches a course at Freie Universität Berlin as a Samuel Fischer Visiting Professor. Cécile Wajsbrot is the 32nd Samuel Fischer Visiting Professor.

Further Information and Contact for Cécile Wajsbrot

Prof. Dr. Claudia Olk, Peter Szondi Institute of Comparative Literature, Freie Universität Berlin, Tel.: +49 30 838-56418, Email:

Location and Time of the Inaugural Lecture

  • December 10, 6:15 p.m.
  • Humanities Building, Room KL 32/202, Habelschwerdter Allee 45, 14195 Berlin; subway station: Thielplatz (U3)