Contemporary Luxembourgish literature is highly creative. Although literature in Luxembourgish is not a long-standing tradition, the country can boast many Luxembourgish writers who write in their mother tongue. Here are a few tips to discover Luxembourgish literature.
Luxembourg's literary history is rather short: the first work in Luxembourgish was published in 1829. It was entitled E’ Schrek op de’ Lezebuerger Parnassus and was written by Anton Meyer, a mathematics teacher.
It was the era of three authors who are now considered as the classics of the Luxembourgish language:
- Michel Lentz, the author of the national hymn Ons Hémecht
- Edmond de la Fontaine, better known under his pseudonym 'Dicks', who is seen as the creator of theatre in Luxembourgish;
- Michel Rodange, who wrote the famous Rénert, a fable on Luxembourgish society.
The renaissance in the late 20th Century
The period of the early 1980s is often considered as the real starting point for contemporary Luxembourgish literature.
This was when the general public discovered a number of new voices, such as Lambert Schlechter, Jean Portante, Michèle Thoma, Nico Helminger and Georges Hausemer, while already established authors were starting to look for other ways of expressing themselves. Man in his social environment features at the centre of the literary output of this period.
The renaissance of novels in Luxembourgish saw the light in 1985 with the publication of Hannert dem Atlantik – Guy Rewenig's first novel in Luxembourgish. The novel revolves around the life of Jhemp Medinger, an unqualified worker in Luxembourg's industrial South.
In Rewenig’s wake Roger Manderscheid published a major trilogy in 1988, comprising the novels schacko klak, de papagei um käschtebam and feier a flam.
Discover the universe of Luxembourg's literary scene in our brochure 'About... Literature in Luxembourg'.
Since the late 1980s, books in Luxembourgish have been very popular with the public, reaching significant sales figures. More sagas in Lëtzebuergesch were published over the following decade, by authors of the likes of Nico Helminger, Josiane Kartheiser, Jhemp Hoscheit and Josy Braun.
During this period there was also a renaissance of literature in French in the Grand Duchy; the main authors were Edmond Dune, Jean Portante, Anise Koltz, Lambert Schlechter, Rosemarie Kieffer, José Ensch, Jean Sorrente, Félix Molitor, and Danielle Hoffelt.
The same is true of recent Luxembourg literature in German, which attempts to blend into the dominant currents of the German-speaking world. Names such as Jean Krier, Roland Harsch, Pit Hoerold and Guy Helminger become household names of quality literature.
Children's literature in Luxembourgish is particularly appreciated as a genre. Guy Rewenig stands out as a pioneer in children's literature in Luxembourgish; his Muschkilusch collection of stories was published in 1990.
Other popular authors, including Roger Manderscheid and Jhemp Hoscheit, have tried their hand at writing for children and teenagers – a successful exercise to judge by their sometimes impressive sales.
Since 2001, in collaboration with the Freed um Liesen (Joy of Reading) initiative, the National Literature Centre in Mersch (Centre national de littérature, CNL) has organised an annual Luxembourgish version of the KIBUM (Kinder- und Jugendbuchmesse) book fair for literature for children and teenagers — thousands of German-language books for children and teenagers are presented at the Centre in Mersch for a whole week in January each year.
Graphic novels and comic strips
In the comics genre, many foreign works have been translated into the Luxembourgish language, joined by a growing number of Luxembourgish productions.
I.e. Deemols (In days gone by) by Marc Angel is a history of the Grand Duchy in the style of comic-strip. Andy Geenen has produced a fictional comic-strip story about John the Blind (the King of Bohemia) entitled De Leschte Ritter (The last knight).
The great classic of the genre in the Grand Duchy is without a doubt the series entitled De Superjhemp. The authors Lucie Czuga and Roger Leiner recount the incredible adventures of a very Luxembourgish Superman... Comics classics such as Asterix and Tintin have also been adapted in Luxembourgish.
The comic-strip genre comes to the fore in July each year, with the International Comics Festival (Festival international de la bande dessinée de Contern) held in Contern For the duration of the festival, the whole village is devoted to this art and attracts thousands of visitors as well as the stars of this genre.
(Source: About … Literature in Luxembourg)
For more information
- Discover Luxembourg's literature on the 'Luxemburgensia' website of the National Library (in French)
- Meet Luxembourg's authors on the Author's Lexicon (in French and German)
- Discover the laureates of the National Literary Prize (in French and German).
- And here are the laureates of the Batty-Weber-Prize (in French and German).
- Discover the Servias-Prize (in French).