||This article appears to be written like an advertisement. (May 2008)|
The quarterly magazine Wespennest (literally translated "wasps nest") publishes texts and images by internationally renowned authors and artists as well as new literary talents. Besides presenting themes on specific countries, literature, art theory or politics, each issue offers interviews, polemics, book and theatre reviews and works of photography on 112 large-format pages.
The magazine was founded in 1969 and originally developed from the Vienna 68er scene as a project by a group of authors. The Zeitgeist of the late 1960s helps to explain the title of the magazine, which devises an agenda that is still as timely as ever. In retrospect, the achievements of this project’s nearly 40-year existence can be summed up as follows: Wespennest has not only succeeded in transforming and updating the sociocritical demands of the founding era without selling out under the pressures of a changed market. Wespennest has become one of the leading publications of its kind in the field of literature and essays – and meanwhile appears in bookshops all over the German-speaking world thanks to a distribution agreement with the Munich-based publishing house C.H.Beck. It also provides a forum in terms of a literary community and a critical public to internationally known authors such as Friedrich Achleitner, Gabriela Adameşteanu, Gennadij Ajgi, Sadik Al-Azm, Les Back, Lothar Baier, Colette Braeckman, Alida Bremer, Rudolf Burger, Mircea Cărtărescu, Peter O. Chotje-witz, Inger Christensen, György Dalos, Jesús Díaz, Ulrike Draesner, Michail Eisenberg, Katarina Frostenson, Arno Geiger, Georgi Gospodinov, Sabine Gruber, Adolf Holl, Nora Iuga, Jaan Kaplinski, Sema Kaygusuz, Navid Kermani, Friederike Mayröcker, Suketu Mehta, Dmi-trij Prigow, Elif Şafak, Warlam Schalamow, Robert Schindel, Burghart Schmidt, Olga Sedakova, Heinz Steinert, Ilija Trojanow, Tomas Venclova, Wolf Wondratschek and others. Wespennest presents a dialogue forum for European literature that includes not only countries like Spain, the Netherlands, Greece and Scandinavia, but which also introduces and discusses first and foremost the literature of the Eastern European countries, from Slovenia in the south to Russia in the north.
The twenty-year-old writers Peter Henisch und Helmut Zenker initially founded Wespennest as a publication for their own texts, dissociated from the literary magazines Literatur und Kritik, which they found «too virtuous», and Manuskripte, which they found «too avant-garde». After the founding authors resigned, the writers Gustav Ernst and Franz Schuh, among others, worked as editors and co-publishers of Wespennest for many years. In the mid-1980s, Josef Haslinger altered the concept of the quarterly magazine. In addition to German-language literature and essays, it began to publish regular translations of up-and-coming foreign authors who were still not well known in the German-speaking world. Thanks to collaboration with the European network of cultural journals Eurozine, which Wespennest helped to found, there is now a lively exchange with intellectual publications in and beyond Europe. Walter Famler, the magazine’s current publisher, expanded the magazine’s activities at the beginning of the 1990s to include book publishing, coming out with three to five books a year in the series Edition Literatur, Edition Essay and Edition Film. Originally founded as a lite-rary magazine, Wespennest is now recognised beyond the German-speaking world and has also opened itself up to the humanities and social sciences. Wespennest regularly publishes extensive, critical essays addressing topics of contemporary art and film, and also covering political and social events in and outside Austria. The 100th issue of Wespennest, which appeared in September 1995, brought content and design changes once again. Stefan Fuhrer has been responsible for the new design since then, and articles appear under the heading «Wespennest Portraits» about personages such as Drago Jančar, Dževad Karahasan, John Mateer and Meg Stuart. A founding principle of these por-traits is the special connection between photographs and text.
Besides the four themed issues each year, special editions appear occasionally, such as those about the jazz composer Franz Koglmann, the poet Friederike Mayröcker and the Art Brut artist Adolf Wölfli. Wespennest is now one of the «most innovative and at the same time most renowned literary magazines in the German-speaking realm and demonstrates international calibre four times a year». This was the jury’s explanation for awarding the magazine the V.O. Stomps Prize from the city of Mainz in 2003 «for outstanding achievements in small-scale publishing activities».
Walter Famler edits the magazine along with Erich Klein, Jan Koneffke (literature), Tanja Martini («überläufer»), Reinhard Öhner (photos), Ilija Trojanow (reportage) and Andrea Zederbauer (coordination); Thomas Eder is in charge of the book review section. György Dalos (Berlin), George Blecher (New York), Jyoti Mistry (Johannesburg) and Franz Schuh (Vienna) are regular collaborators.