Learning where we come from - reading series on the basic writings of European culture

Osnabrück, April 2018

The writings of ancient Greece and Rome, together with the stories of the Bible, form the most important foundation of our literary culture, indeed of cultural tradition as a whole. Through the myths we gain access to the history and religion of early Europe. That a "deeper meaning could be found in them has always been conscious, at least to the artists, since they contain a basic knowledge about man and his involvement in cosmic, religious and social contexts.

In twenty-seven events over three years, basic texts and fundamental writings of European culture will be presented: from the Epic of Gilgamesh to Ovid's Metamorphoses to Montaigne and Shakespeare, from the Apology of Socrates to the Song of the Nibelungs to the basic texts of modernity by Kant, Marx and Nietzsche.

What is the point of the undertaking? It is an attempt to find out where we come from, an attempt of self-assurance and self-encounter in the mirror of "valid" texts. Last but not least, it is an encounter with works that every generation has to discover anew if it wants to assure itself of its cultural tradition.

Hanjo Kesting, the long-time head of the Cultural Word Department at NDR, has conceived the program and invites visitors to (re)encounter the "basic writings". He leads through the events with commentary. The texts are also meant to speak for themselves, brought to life by renowned actors and actresses.