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The sky in shades of blue – the Literaturportal Bayern connects the digital and the analogue world of literature

The Literaturportal Bayern is an online platform for literature, hosted by the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek. But it is also much more: It is the portal to a beautiful place. Using the possibilities of the Internet, it opens a view onto a literature landscape whose colourful diversity of interconnections finally becomes fully visible. Portraits of writers, personal papers, theme essays – the placement into context and interconnection of authors, institutions and events offers a common harbour to the literary life in the cities and regions. As a networked compendium of knowledge, the Literaturportal Bayern serves as a fund and a forum for experts and laypersons at the same time. This spectrum permits doing research, gathering information, browsing without hurry – sometimes coming across something out of the blue.

New paths

Since everything changes constantly in the Internet, the Literaturportal Bayern is not resting on its archival silverware. It is constantly on the lookout for new paths and new formats to make the blue and white land of literature shine. Contents are thus offered via highly diverse channels: using the established Internet site (www.literaturportal-bayern.de), social networks, but also for example a radio channel of its own, "Literatur Radio Bayern", or on the occasion of self-organised lectures. The editorial office is not trying to hide anonymously in the Internet, but wants to be visible as a social protagonist in the Bavarian literature scene. The future of living literature is at the interface between the real and the virtual world.

As a pulsating connecting line, the portal's blog plays an important role in this. Not only does it report about all news from the world of literature, but also offers a lively platform for original literary contributions. A substantial number of important authors contribute regular publications or answer questions on current issues – among them greats such as Nora Gomringer, Lena Gorelik, Sandra Hoffmann, Dagmar Leupold, Norbert Niemann, Thomas von Steinaecker and Tilman Spengler.

Some of them have also cooperated in the literature portal's first own book publication, by which a further leap towards the outside was achieved: The anthology "Fremd" (published by Fridolin Schley, Munich, 2015) gathers highly diverse texts against xenophobia and about the topic of being foreign – stories, poems, analyses or utopias – all of them appeals for open-mindedness, frequently with a large pinch of humour.

Within the scope of this initiative, numerous readings and discussion events were organised in addition, not only in Munich, but also in Pullach or Augsburg for example. Other events were dedicated to the encounter of German and Italian poetry, the topic "Disability in Bavarian Literature" or the literature project "Street view literature", an urban, interactive literature experiment.

Internet stages

This is no accidental mixture. Tradition and experimentation have always been mutually contingent and stimulating. The next large project supported by the literature portal and represented in its blog also follows this credo: the novel in stages. It is an online experiment, an Internet novel which the readers themselves can influence. The novel is intended to transport the creation processes of literature, referred to as editorial text stages for centuries, into the digital present. Preparatory work, drafts, reviewed versions – everything that has so far been hidden behind the finished book and has at best been known to the editors can now be made visible on the Internet. And that is not all: This process is freed from its stepdaughterly role and becomes a part of the work and of the reading as such.

In concrete terms, this means: The renowned Munich writer and laureate of the Ingeborg-Bachmann Award Thomas Lang is writing a novel or a longer narration titled "Der gefundene Tod" (Coming across death) over the period of nine months – however not in isolation and in a private room, but very publicly on the Internet. The readers no longer receive the finished text product, but witness the entire creative process, for example by the author making materials of his drafts, notes and researches accessible or submitting several text variants for discussion. Thus, the readers can see every progress, every development and change in real time. They can comment on it, and can have an influence on the work by way of an exchange with the author. A school class will even receive a literary figure of its own for development. The writer thus also expands his role: he is now also acting as a weaver, as an impulse-providing part of a collective creative weave.

Ultimately, this experiment implements in a playful way what philosophy and science fiction have been dreaming of for a long time: reading and writing combined in one process. The literature fan co-writes the novel – by reading it. The Deutscher Literaturfonds (German Literature Fund) supports the project with one of its highly sought-after author grants. The project was launched on the Internet on 1 September 2016. All interested readers are cordially invited to take part.

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