Blaue Hintergrundillustration

Discussion

State of European Literature

Essayist, historian and novelist Philipp Blom delivers the first State of European Literature, an annual lecture about the significance of literature for Europe today.
Once upon a time, Western societies had a clear story. It was Christian, patriarchal and imperialist, based on the biblical injunction “subjugate the earth”. Countless people suffered from the consequences of this story, and this suffering was exposed and examined by writers seeking to describe or even end it and to open new perspectives.

But economic crises, the climate emergency and the Corona pandemic make clear that this story no longer corresponds to the world we experience. The story of the West has pretty much fallen apart. Social activists have demanded its destruction, scientists attacked its foundations, philosophers exposed its prejudices. This has been a historic victory for reason and justice, but it has also undermined the sense of purpose these societies once had.

What does that mean for storytellers? Is it possible to tell stories that no longer resonate with the public, no longer address a shared sense of purpose, or of good and evil?

To overview