Festival within the festival: Out of Joint
The literary festival within steirischer herbst

What to write? What to read? What to do?
4.10.–8.10.21, Literaturhaus Graz

After the virulence of the plague began to increase, [previous usages] were either altogether or for the most part laid aside, and other and strange customs sprang up in their stead. For that, not only did folk die without having a multitude of women about them, but many there were who departed this life without witness and few indeed were they to whom the pious plaints and bitter tears of their kinsfolk were vouchsafed; nay, in lieu of these things there obtained, for the most part, laughter and jests and gibes and feasting and merrymaking in company; which usance women, laying aside womanly pitifulness, had right well learned for their own safety.

Giovanni Boccaccio, Das Dekameron (1348–1353)
translated by John Payne

The plague has taken Florence by storm. Seven women and three young men withdraw to a country estate in the outskirts of the city and tell each other ten stories over the course of ten days—to survive and to distract and entertain themselves. Boccaccio’s Decameron, a masterpiece of world literature, pays tribute to a different way of life in the midst of the pandemic. Each day a new king or queen among the group is elected to determine the main theme of the stories; on two days they have no restrictions. Thus emerges a practice of storytelling against the state of the world.

How did we learn to deal with the state of emergency? What did we read? What was written? What shall we do now? Alongside much-needed personal conversation, this year’s literary festival within steirischer herbst brings forward elements of a “new Decameron”. Authors were invited to submit texts that were deemed the right ones at a time like this—texts that may be enjoyable or useful to us. What have we learned from the pandemic? Must we change our lives? Or forget as soon as possible what came to pass? This is the thought addressed at the end during the literature show Roboter mit Senf.  

Participants: Austrofred, Marica Bodrožić, Elisabeth Bronfen, Max Czollek & Georg Seeßlen, Günter Eichberger, Ulrike Haidacher, Ivan Ivanji, Michael Köhlmeier & Konrad Paul Liessmann, Das Planetenparty Prinzip, Doron Rabinovici, Stephan Roiss, Denis Scheck, Franz Solar, Marlene Streeruwitz & Andrea Scrima, Astrid Wintersberger

Hosts: Cornelius Hell, Lisz Hirn, Wolfgang Huber-Lang, Klaus Kastberger, Wolfgang Paterno, Daniela Strigl, David J. Wimmer

Program details will be available in September.

Conception: Klaus Kastberger

Organization: Agnes Altziebler

Coproduced with steirischer herbst ’21