Each country has its well-known and loved literary characters whose essence is deeply connected to the identity of a nation or region. This exhibition is about those characters, introducing the fictional world, authors and cultural surrounding of smaller European states. Estonia, Finland, Greece, Hungary and Luxembourg are represented with their literary characters. Learn about the project
D'Maus Ketti (Mouse Ketti) is a fable in verse which, in four chapters, tells the story of town mouse Mim visiting country mouse Ketti in Burmerange, and vice versa. It is Auguste Liesch's first work (1936).
The fable, inspired by Aesop and also found in Horace's Satires, illustrates the incompatibility of city and country life: Mim worries about getting her stylish clothes dirty and scoffs at the frugal meals her cousin dishes up; Ketti on the other hand is scared of the many dangers that mice face when they go out looking for the town's gastronomical delicacies. So Ketti goes back to her quiet life in the country, she marries mouse Metti and leads a cosy, albeit simple life. The story illustrates the moral found in Aesop's fable: modesty and contentedness are more rewarding than wealth and a life of plenty, which go hand in hand with great worries.
With Pierre Blanc's illustrations, the story has become a classic of Luxembourgish children's literature. Blanc's drawings have been praised as "a popular lyrical ode to cosiness", but as the text also contains some satirical sideswipes ‒ for instance on the fashion of the 1930s ‒ the story is intended for adult readers as well. To this day, the poem is included in school anthologies; its numerous re-editions with illustrations by Pe'l Schlechter (1966), Willy Faber (1969), Romain Schroeder (1988), Leo Reuter (1995) and Alison Koch-Kent (2003) show that it is still one of the most popular texts in Luxembourgish literature.
During the 1930s, the Luxembourg national literature reflects the growing national identity, culminating in the celebration of the centennial of Luxembourg's independence in 1939, shortly before the beginning of World War II. At the same time, the literature of the 1930s describes the social conflicts due to the industrialization in the early 20th century. The change from a largely agrarian society to an industrialized country led to a rural exodus into the steel mining towns of the South. The 1920s saw the rise of the Landwuol movement (Country welfare) with its popular ideology of the Volkstum, which valued the pastoral idyll over a modern life in the city. This had a big influence on literature in the Luxembourgish language. The theatre plays D'Schmattslisy (Smith's Lisy) and D'Médche vu Goetzen (The Girl from Goetzingen) by Max Goergen, D'Joffer Marie-Madeleine (Miss Marie-Madeleine) by Josy Imdahl or 'T Heemsch-Scholl (Home Soil) by Isi Comes, but also Pierre Grégoire's, Jean-Pierre Erpelding's and Nicolas Ries' novels praise communal life in the countryside, even though there may be some critical undertones. The same holds true for the country wedding at the end of D'Maus Ketti by August Liesch.
Text by Claude Conter, www.cnl.public.luBack to top