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Ilija Trojanow


Edited By Julian Preece

Ilija Trojanow, born in Bulgaria in 1965 and brought up in East Africa, established his name as an international writer with the novel Der Weltensammler or The Collector of Worlds (2006), about the cross-cultural Victorian adventurer Sir Richard Francis Burton. Since the mid-1990s Trojanow has been prolific in a number of genres, including travel, ethnography and science fiction. He has also become a major public intellectual in Austria and Germany with provocative interventions on topics such as Islam and the West, civil rights in the age of cybersurveillance and climate change. His imaginative writing sits at the centre of a number of defining contemporary concerns, in particular the relationship between identity, language and culture.
This volume contains an interview with Trojanow, a previously unpublished essay by him on Lessing’s Enlightenment parable of inter-religious tolerance, Nathan der Weise ( Nathan the Wise), and essays by European and North American scholars on central aspects of his growing œuvre. The contributors explore why Trojanow is one of today’s leading writers of German while challenging a number of myths that have grown up around him and his magnum opus, Der Weltensammler.


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EVA M. KNOPP Letting the Subaltern Laugh


– How Humour Works in Die Welt ist groß und Rettung lauert überall/ The World Is Large and Salvation Lurks Around Every Corner and Der Weltensammler/ The Collector of Worlds Jokes occur because society is structured in contradiction; there are no jokes in paradise.1 In both his first partly autobiographical novel Die Welt ist groß und Rettung lauert überall/The World Is Large and Salvation Lurks Around Every Corner and Der Weltensammler/The Collector of Worlds Ilija Trojanow taps into literary traditions of humorous fiction, with its trademark garrulous narrators and trickster figures, as well as ironic and parodying modes of representation. This may be one reason that the novels have proved popular with readers. I will suggest, however, in this essay that Trojanow sets out not only to entertain his readers, but also to subvert cultural hierarchies and to transgress hegemonic discourses of cultural and religious identity. He does this in a number of ways which have a long literary tradition, on various narrative levels, and through a number of perspectives, which is partly why the novels are structurally so complex. Despite the fact that the novels deal with far-from light-hearted issues, such as political oppression 1 James F. English, Comic Transactions. Literature, Humor, and the Politics of Community in Twentieth-Century Britain (Ithaca, NY/London: Cornell University Press, 1994), p. 9. 100 EVA M. KNOPP and ethnic or religious segregation, Trojanow often presents the tense transcultural encounters humorously. Narrating ‘jokers’, such as Bai Dan in Die Welt ist groß und Rettung lauert überall...

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