Photo: Felix Kästle/ dpa
Martin Walser once wrote in one of his diaries back in the early 1950s that he wanted to »slip down the friendly-painful path and eat the world empty like a field of berries«.
Since then he has put a lot on paper in these ways, in books and letters, in manuscripts and drafts.
The now 95-year-old writer (“A Fleeing Horse”, “A Dying Man”) from Lake Constance is now leaving his collected narrative, dramatic and essayistic works, his photos and computer files, as well as his private library, to the German Literature Archive (DLA) in Marbach as a so-called advance.
Walser came personally to the ceremonial handover on Sunday in Schillerstadt am Neckar.
According to the literary archive, the bequest comprises a total of around 75,000 handwritten pages.
An important part of the DLA acquisition are the 75 diaries that Walser has kept since the 1950s.
So far they have only been partially edited and are an essential source for life and work.
Walser's correspondence with Alfred Andersch and Rudolf Augstein, Ingeborg Bachmann, Heinrich Böll, Jürgen Habermas, Uwe Johnson and the publisher Siegfried Unseld are also archived.
In addition, there is his private and work library with over 7800 volumes as well as photos and computer files.
LA director Sandra Richter described Walser's archive on Sunday as "the fullness of an author's life spanning more than 60 years".
Walser is a combative chronicler of the Federal Republic and its society, and his documents are an exceptional source of literary and contemporary history.
Surprisingly, of course, the legacy does not end up in the »Church of the Subterranean Heaven«, as Walser once called the DLA.
As early as 2004 he had agreed with the house in Marbach that this would be the place where his material would be preserved, made accessible and researched.
The archive received parts of his manuscripts and materials just three years later.
Walser's material now includes two dozen novels, numerous novellas and collections of stories, a large number of plays, radio plays and translations as well as essays, speeches and lectures.
"A titanic work," said literary critic Denis Scheck last year about Walser's work as an author.
Martin Walser was born in 1927 as the son of a Catholic innkeeper in Wasserburg, Bavaria.
He is said to have written his first poems at the age of twelve, and after the Second World War he studied literature, among other things.
He published his first volume of short stories »Ein Flugzeug über dem Haus« in 1955 and his first novel »Ehen in Philippsburg« in 1957 – countless works followed in the years that followed.
One speaks of a legacy, as in this case, when archival materials are made available during one's lifetime.
According to the DLA, the purchase was supported by the cultural foundation of the federal states and the federal government's cultural commissioners, the state ministry for culture, the savings bank association and the Upper Swabian Electricity Utility Association.