Department of Germanic Studies

Franzobel reads from: The Raft of the Medusa

Mon, September 23, 2019 | RLP 1.302B

3:00 PM - 5:00 PM

Image Credit: Georg Buxhofer/Paul Zsolnay Verlag
Image Credit: Georg Buxhofer/Paul Zsolnay Verlag

Prize winning Austrian author Franzobel reads in German from his novel “Das Floß der Medusa” (the Raft of the Medusa).

In July of 1816, the French frigate Medusa en route to the French colony of Senegal ran aground and sank off the coast of modern day Mauritania. Ineptly led and ill-equipped with enough lifeboats for all of the passengers, 147 people were set adrift on a 20 ft. long unnavigable makeshift raft, and left to fend for themselves with minimal supplies. 13 days later the raft was sighted by chance by a frigate called the Argus. What the captain of the Argus discovered would shock and embarrass post-Napoleonic France and the world: the survivors naked with vacant eyes, emaciated bodies, and burned skin – half crazed shells of their former selves and signs of cannibalism, insanity and unimaginable cruelty. Only 15 survived to tell the tale of the raft of the Medusa.

This historical event immortalized by the romantic painter Théodore Géricault’s oversized canvass painting is the backdrop for Franzobel’s novel that explores the dark side of the human will to survive and the limits of civilization and humanity.

Come join the author who will read selections from his work in German and field questions from the audience in English and German.


Franzobel (*1967) is one of Austria‘s most popular and controversial writers. He is the recipient of numerous awards including the Ingeborg Bachmann Prize (1995), the Arthur Schnitzler Prize (2002) and the Nicolas Born Prize (2017). Zsolnay most recently published his novel Was die Männer so treiben, wenn die Frauen im Badezimmer sind (2012), the crime novels  Wiener Wunder (2014) and Groschens Grab (2015) and Das Floß der Medusa (2017), which was shortlisted for the German Book Prize 2017 and for which he was awarded  the Bavarian Book Prize.


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