Austrian writer Ilse Aichinger with her twin sister Helga Aichinger
Austrian writer Ilse Aichinger with her twin sister Helga Aichinger
9 December 2016

German lecturer Dr Geoff Wilkes has received international recognition for his English translation of iconic wartime novel Die größere Hoffnung (The Greater Hope), by Austrian author Ilse Aichinger.

Dr Wilkes is the first Australian to receive the translation prize from the Austrian Federal Chancellery.

“I’m very grateful for this recognition from the Austrian government – the land of Ilse Aichinger’s birth,” he said.

“There are lots of excellent translators in UQ’s School of Languages & Cultures; it’s just fortunate that the attention is on me at the moment.”

His translation of the 1948 novel has been published by leading German publisher Koenigshausen & Neumann.

It was launched at the UQ Art Museum in September, with excerpts from the novel dramatised in English and German. A video of the launch is available here.

The dramatisations are about to go global, with performances scheduled in London and Vienna.

Aichinger’s novel, released in 1948, was originally said to be too difficult to translate, yet Dr Wilkes’s work is a resounding rejection of that assessment.

It captures Aichinger’s unique style and use of language to bring this novel to the English-speaking world.

“Ilse Aichinger lived in Nazi-occupied Austria as quite a young woman and many of her relatives did not survive,” Dr Wilkes said.

Die gröβere Hoffnung is one of the earliest and most interesting literary representations of the Holocaust,” he said.

Aichinger’s novel has also been the focus of a University of Queensland graduate’s thesis.

German Honours graduate Gail Wiltshire’s work inspired the dramatic performances that featured at the launch of Dr Wilkes’s translation.

Ms Wiltshire graduated in 2014 after securing a Koenigshausen & Neumann publishing deal for her unmarked thesis.  Her story is featured here.

Media: Kristen Johnston, or 07 3346 1633.