Claudia Hamm
IFK_Translator in Residence

Duration of fellowship
01. March 2019 bis 30. June 2019

Claudia Hamm


Wandering Coproducers: Thoughts on Crossing-Over


Serge Doubrovsky, the author and theoretician of the self, is familiar to most for a single term: autofiction. The word, which he coined in 1977 to describe his novel Fils (Sons/Threads), defines a narrative form “whose material is completely autobiographical and whose style is completely fictional.” Yet autofiction is also autofriction: conscious rubs up against unconscious. “The revolution of psychoanalysis also ravaged the autobiographical landscape,” according to Doubrovsky’s rationale for the increased precarity of narrative perspective, chronology, syntactic and graphic order in his books. Such protean texts are not graspable. Yet if they are to be made accessible to another linguistic realm, the translator’s mind must nonetheless construct a something. It begins to supply its own (un)conscious contents.

In a self-reflexive, likewise autofictional essay, Claudia Hamm questions the notion of literary translations as communal works, which do not necessarily assume a sense of plurality. Multiple authors inscribe themselves into a text; the transfer from language into language generates transformations of a text’s aesthetic, thematic, and emotional connections. In the process, the gaps in this network multiply, along with the threads and connections.


Claudia Hamm is a theater director, author, and translator. Born in Jena in 1969, she left the GDR with her family in 1983, studied German literature and philosophy in Paris, Freiburg/Breisgau, and Antofagasta/Chile. After engagements at, e.g., the Burgtheater Vienna, she was a director and guested with her ensemble 15febbraio/Turin and her own pieces at various theaters and festivals in France, Italy, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. She has taught at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna and the Free University Berlin, regularly writes essays (among others for Merkur), and takes the stage as speaker and performer. Her translations—e.g., of works by Emmanuel Carrère, Édouard Levé, Mathias Énard, and Nathalie Quintane—have garnered numerous fellowships and a nomination for the Leipzig Book Fair’s 2016 Translation Prize, as well as winning the Translation Prize of the Association of Arts and Culture of the German Economy.


Stücke: Don Quixote zusammen_gereimt, UA Kitzbüheler Sommerkonzerte 2016; Still live, UA Festival delle Colline, Turin 2011; die putzen, UA Théâtre des Bernardines, Marseilles 2009; Nothing/Special, UA Burgtheater, Wien 2000; Essays: Oh man. Eribon und Ernaux lesen, Merkur 825, 2018; Wem gehört ein übersetzter Text?, Merkur 827, 2018; Übersetzungen: Nathalie Quintane, Wohin mit den Mittelklassen?, Berlin 2018; Joseph Andras, Die Wunden unserer Brüder, München 2017; Emmanuel Carrère, Der Widersacher, Berlin 2018; Emmanuel Carrère, Ein russischer Roman, Berlin 2017; Emmanuel Carrère, Das Reich Gottes, Berlin 2016; Mathias Énard, Der Alkohol und die Wehmut, Berlin 2016; Emmanuel Carrère, Alles ist wahr, Berlin 2014; Emmanuel Carrère, Limonow, Berlin 2012; Édouard Levé, Selbstmord, Berlin 2011.

  • Lecture
Claudia Hamm

Der Name Serge Doubrovsky klingt nur wenigen im Ohr. Das verwundert nicht, bezeichnete er seine Literatur doch selbst als unübersetzbar. Seine Genreerfindung „Autofiktion“ dagegen hat steile Karriere gemacht. Doch Autofiktion ist auch Autofriktion: Bewusstes reibt sich an Unbewusstem. Wie „fängt“ man einen fliehenden Text „ein“, wenn man ihn zu übersetzen gedenkt?