Herta Miller: Nobel Prize-winning literary fringe

  On October 8, 2009, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced that German writer Herta Miller was awarded the 2009 Nobel Prize in Literature, becoming the 12th woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. The jury of the Nobel Prize in Literature called it “a picture of the life of the expelled with the condensed poetry and the frankness of the prose.”
  Herta Miller is a Romanian-German novelist, poet, and essayist whose works include Chinese Short stories, novels, essays, literary theory, etc. Her award surprises people inside and outside the literary circle, because Miller is not a well-known writer at all, although she has published more than 20 books so far, her works have also been translated into many languages ​​and published, and she has won awards in Germany. She has won more than 20 literary awards such as the Kafka Prize and the Berlin Literary Prize, but not many people know or read her works in China or the United States. Even in German literature, she is a non-mainstream writer. The German media even called her “an outsider of German literature”.
  Herta Miller was born on August 17, 1953 in a small German-speaking village in the Banat Mountains, Romania, to parents of Romanian German minority. Miller’s father served in the German SS during World War II. After the war, in 1945, his mother and a large number of Romanians were exiled to the Soviet Union, where they worked for five years in a labor camp in what is now Ukraine.
  Miller left the countryside from 1973 to 1976 to study German and Romanian literature at the University of Timisoara. While studying at university, she joined the Banat Action Group, an organization of young German-speaking writers.
  From 1977 to 1979, after graduating from college, Miller worked as a translator in a machine factory before being fired for refusing to cooperate with the secret police. After being fired, she made a living teaching kindergarten and tutoring German. During this time, she began to write short stories. It failed to pass the censorship when it was prepared for publication, and it was not until 1982 that the collection of novels called “The Lowlands” was published after extensive editing. Her debut novel about childhood was widely controversial when it was published. Two years later, the novel “Heavy Tango” was published.
  In “Lowland” and “Heavy Tango”, Miller describes the hypocrisy of country life, the life of dissidents, and the fanatical fascist spirit, intolerance and depravity of the German minority. Miller was sharply criticized for destroying the idyllic and wonderful rural life image of the German minority in Romania. Because The Lowlands did not pass censorship in Romania, Miller secretly sent the manuscript to Germany, and the unabridged collection of novels was well received by critics as soon as it was published. The lowlands in the novel refer to German-speaking villages in the Banat region. Miller pierces the majestic mask of ideal village life and exposes the harsh and oppressive environment that had a bad influence on her childhood.
  Because of Miller’s incompatibility with Romanian political life at that time, her works became banned in Romania. Despite her increasingly difficult situation in Romania, she did not give up writing. She immigrated to Germany in 1987 with her husband Richard Wagner, also a novelist, and has lived in Berlin ever since.
  Much of Miller’s work is a true reflection of her own life experiences. Passport chronicles the efforts of a German-Romanian family to get a passport and leave Romania. The novel exposes the cruelty and depravity of the Romanian countryside, exposing the physical and physical exploitation of those who demanded to leave the country by officials there—from postmasters to priests.
  One-Legged Journey depicts the problems of resettlement of immigrants in the Western world and the lingering sense of alienation among exiles. In “Hot Potatoes and Quilts”, the author reflects many real events at that time from the perspective of a woman who is clumsy in using words like “Motherland”. The collection of essays, The Devil in the Mirror, is a compilation of a series of lectures Miller gave at the university between 1989 and 1990. The articles therein reveal the crux of tension and conflict in her work and the origins of her poetic imagery. The novel “Then the Fox Was the Hunter” was adapted from a screenplay. The protagonist of the novel is a female teacher who is harassed by the Romanian secret police. Miller uses metaphorical writing skills to describe the destruction of the self in reality.
  Miller published the novel “Green Li in the Wind” in 1994, and Taiwan Times Publishing House translated the novel into Chinese and published it in 1999. This is also her only novel that has been translated into Chinese.
  This is widely acknowledged to be the most autobiographical novel, beginning with the protagonist’s college life, in which the author weaves and tells a series of teenage memories. The novel vividly describes the life of the Romanian people by showing the destruction of people under autocratic rule, the relationship between the protagonist’s childhood repression and autocratic oppression. It is believed that whether the protagonist is the father of the SS or the ruler of Romania at that time, they are all “digging their own graves”.
  The green plum is an image in the novel, which represents fragility and cruelty. The father would not let the child eat the green hard plums because the soft core of the plums would kill her. Those young people who fled the countryside to become state police all eat green plums. Although green plums didn’t kill them, they “made them stupid”, and their way to get rid of the “poisonous fire” of soft plums is to use terror. To deal with fearful civilians. Plums have taken on terrifying connotations in the city, where “plum eaters” stand for “upstarts, opportunists, stragglers, and those who step over corpses without mercy…dictatorship In the
  novel, the peasants who brought their children from the countryside to the city believed that the city was not the development of the countryside, but the degradation of the countryside. Shepherds who leave the countryside to work in factories produce useless “tin canned sheep”, and farmers produce “papaya melons” in state-owned woodware factories. Workers in state slaughterhouses stole the blood of animals, and children became their accomplices: “When their father kissed them good night, they could smell them drinking blood in the slaughterhouse, so they went there too .”
  In the novel, due to doubts about the “suicide” of roommates, several dissidents are constantly inspected and interrogated, until two other classmates die under unbearable pressure. And what surprises the protagonist the most is her girlfriends. Through their whistleblowing, betrayal and death, the author describes the relationship between people under the dictatorship with concise and even cruel brushstrokes, and records the erosion of fear on people’s spirit. Fear dulls the senses and destroys friendships. It is a theme of the novel that once a man lives in chronic fear, his psyche is eroded. They adapt and even resist under the tyranny, but the final result is that they are at a loss, either to death or the breakdown of their friendship. Although the protagonist and one of her friends eventually leave Romania and emigrate to Germany, leaving the country that made them tremble, the fear cast by their teenage years will last a lifetime.
  Herta Miller’s crowning achievement is her new novel “Breathing Pendulum” in 2009, which tells the story of a Soviet labor camp during the Nazi era. The story is based on the experiences of a poet who was sent to a concentration camp and other concentration camp survivors, including the author’s mother. The German “Times” considers the novel to be a non-ignorable documentary literature.
  ”Breathing Pendulum” tells the story of relatives and friends who send a 20-year-old to a labor camp in anxiety, fearing that he will be abused and devastated. After the young man arrived in the labor camp, he did suffer some inhuman torture; but when this torture became a habit, he adapted to the life in the labor camp and could not accept the normal society, so he was unwilling to come out of the labor camp. . This is a non-fictional literature about spiritual deprivation, which shapes a world of extreme loneliness without love and hope.
  Herta Miller is known as a German writer with a unique style. In Romania, she is a German minority and has a unique life experience. After immigrating to Germany, she became a German of Romanian descent, and the different living environment and cultural differences did not obliterate her memory of the past. Although she left Romania more than 20 years ago, her exile and exile past, unhappy childhood, and terrifying and repressive life experiences are the source of constant thought and material for her various works. The fate of the Romanians and the painful scars of history have always been the subjects of her writings. Her works are a kind of autobiographical literature, focusing on recalling the past, reflecting on history, and depicting the fate of the lower-class civilians who lost their homes. Each of Miller’s books describes the deep lingering fears in memory, which are revealed in the author’s detailed descriptions of the world around him.
  Miller’s works are characterized by concise language, extensive use of poetic language and writing skills such as metaphors, symbols and hints. Dull subjects are often relieved in the hidden humor of her beautiful words and imagery. Her writing is not only poetic, but also has a nuanced description and depiction of daily life, and the two coexist harmoniously in her works in a wonderful way. Miller grew up in a minority background, which put her not only on the fringes of German society, but also on the fringes of German literature, and her fearful childhood and expulsion made her unique, as well as her work.
  The Swedish Academy of Literature commented on his works: Miller used multiple languages ​​to show the world his growth environment and his later life in a foreign country through literary works, and described stories full of emotions.