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European Literature Days

In the unique ambiance of Wachau, Europe’s literary protagonists meet in autumn for a weekend of discussions, networking and presentations as well as to gain deeper insights into European literature.

The European Literature Days comprise a symposium with invited and accredited participants. The focus is on themes chosen annually and presented by the Observatory for European Contemporary Literature, as well as public readings and discussions with European writers, film screenings and concerts.

The programme includes workshops and readings for a young audience in schools and at the Karikaturmuseum Krems. The collaborative work with the European Literature Youth Meetings ( enriches the European Literature Days thanks to innovative forms of contact with literature.


European Literature Days 2017
16. - 19. November 2017

Fear Everywhere

Fear is emerging everywhere. Or more precisely, after an unprecedented and long period of social and political peace, fear has also reached (Western) Europe again. The growing rivalry among states, ethnicities and economic partners promotes a climate of tension. The cultivation of fear is an essential impetus of liberalism, as the French philosopher Michel Foucault expressed: the freedom to conquer is reflected in the desire to control everything.

Writers and philosophers as diverse as Jürgen Habermas and Pankaj Mishra appeal for a new enlightenment for our modern world that seems to be falling apart. For example, Indian writer Pankaj Mishra suggests that a fresh approach to freedoms is needed in times of relentless financial capitalism and of conjuring up apocalyptic struggle between cultures. In our irrevocably diverse and extremely unequal societies, criticism must go hand in hand with empathy and unlimited self-knowledge.

The European Literature Days 2017 focus on the overriding basic sentiment of our time: fear. Fear, the thrill of fear and fuelling fear are basic mind-sets like political strategies that shape our present. Fear of those who flee and fear of refugees; anxiety about poverty and collapse; fear of fascism and war and globalization; fear of religious fundamentalism and the implosion of values; fear of technology and of technology making humans obsolete; fear of permanent communication and language loss; fear of disorientation as well as of total control – the list could go on endlessly. Our life seems to have become precarious.

All these entirely different fears and anxieties have always been a source of fascination for literature both as a motive for writing and as a literary theme. Writing implies both the fear of no freedom and the loss of self.  The European Literature Days 2017 invite international authors to explore this underlying condition of our times in their works, and to recount how anxieties spread in our society so that at times it seems all that remains is fear itself.