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The 111 Greatest Works of German Literature

This selection of literature from Germany is based on the continuing research carried out for The Greatest Literature of All Time list and is additionally informed by the views of local readers, writers, critics and scholars.

It encompasses the greatest works of German authors in all forms, genres, cultures and periods.

Note, "German" literature here refers to works of authors associated with present-day Germany and its predecessor states, republics and confederations, not necessarily to all works in the German language.

This list focuses on major creative—mainly fictional—works, although some shorter or nonfiction writing of literary significance may also be considered.

Latest update: April 3, 2024

c.1145
King Rother
Anonymous
Germany, long poem
c.1200
The Nibelungenlied
Anonymous
Germany, long poem
c.1200–1210
Parzival
Wolfram von Eschenbach
Germany, long poem
1210
Tristan und Isolde
Gottfied von Strassburg
Germany, long poem
1494
Ship of Fools
Sebastian Brant
Germany, poetry collection
1668
Simplicius Simplicissimus
Hans Jakob Christoffel von Grimmelshausen
Germany, novel
1767
Minna von Barnhelm or the Soldiers' Happiness
Gotthold Ephraim Lessing
Germany, play
1774
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Germany, novel
1779
Nathan the Wise
Gotthold Ephraim Lessing
Germany, play
1781
The Robbers
Friedrich Schiller
Germany, play
1782
The Eriking
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Germany, poem
1785–1790
Anton Reiser
Karl Philipp Moritz
Germany, novel
1787
Don Carlos, Infant von Spanien
Friedrich Schiller
Germany, play
1787–1789
The Ghost-Seer
Friedrich Schiller
Germany, novel
1795–1796
William Meister's Apprenticeship
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Germany, novel
1796–1797
Siebenkäs
Jean Paul
Germany, novel
1797–1799
Hyperion
Friedrich Hölderlin
Germany, novel
1797–1806
Hymns and Fragments
Friedrich Hölderlin
Germany, poetry collection
1800
Henry of Ofterdingen
Novalis
Germany, novel
 
Mary Stuart
Friedrich Schiller
Germany, play
1804
William Tell
Friedrich Schiller
Germany, play
1808
The Broken Jug
Heinrich von Kleist
Germany, play
1808–1832
Faust
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Germany, play
1809
Elective Affinities
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Germany, novel
1811
Treasure Chest of Rhenish Tales
Johann Peter Hebel
Germany, story collection
 
Michael Kohlhaas
Heinrich von Kleist
Germany, novella
1812
Poems
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Germany, poetry collection
1812–1857
Grimm's Fairy Tales
Germany, story collection
Includes "Cinderella", "Little Red Cap", "Hansel and Gretel", "Rapunzel", "Snow White", "Rumpelstiltskin", "Tom Thumb", and others
1817
The Story of the Just Casper and Fair Annie
Clemens Brentano
Germany, novella
1819
Mademoiselle de Scuderi
E.T.A. Hoffmann
Germany, novella
1819–1821
The Life and Opinions of Tomcat Murr
E.T.A. Hoffmann
Germany, novel
1821
The Prince of Homburg
Heinrich von Kleist
Germany, play
1826
Memoirs of a Good-for-Nothing
Joseph von Eichendorff
Germany, novella
1827
Book of Songs
Heinrich Heine
Germany, poetry collection
1835
The Hermit
Joseph von Eichendorff
Germany, poem
1842
Annette von Droste-Hülshoff
Germany, novella
1844
Germany, A Winter's Tale
Heinrich Heine
Germany, long poem
1851
Theodor Storm
Germany, novella
1870
Venus in Furs
Leopold von Sacher-Masoch
Germany, novella
1879
Woyzeck
Georg Büchner
Germany, play
1883–1885
Thus Spoke Zarathustra
Friedrich Nietzsche
Germany, novel
1887
Flagman Thiel
Gerhart Hauptmann
Germany, novella
1895
Effi Briest
Theodor Fontane
Germany, novel
1898
The Stechlin
Theodor Fontane
Germany, novel
1901
Buddenbrooks
Germany, novel
1905
Professor Unrat
Heinrich Mann
Germany, novel
1906
Spring Awakening
Frank Wedekind
Germany, play
1918
The Loyal Subject
Heinrich Mann
Germany, novel
1920
The Storm of Steel
Ernst Jünger
Germany, memoir
1924
Purgatory in Ingolstadt
Marieluise Fleißer
Germany, play
 
The Magic Mountain
Thomas Mann
Germany, novel
1925
Jud Süß
Lion Feuchtwanger
Germany, novel
1926
Metropolis
Thea von Harbou
Germany, novel
1926–1943
Joseph and His Brothers
Germany, novel
1927
The Case of Sergeant Grischa
Arnold Zweig
Germany, novel
1928
The Three-Penny Opera
Bertolt Brecht
Germany, play
 
Pioneers in Ingolstadt
Marieluise Fleißer
Germany, play
1929
Berlin Alexanderplatz
Alfred Döblin
Germany, novel
 
All Quiet on the Western Front
Germany, novel
1930
Success: Three Years in the Life of a Province
Lion Feuchtwanger
Germany, novel
1932–1942
Josephus trilogy
Lion Feuchtwanger
Germany, novel series
1933
The Artificial Silk Girl
Irmgard Keun
Germany, novel
1939
Mother Courage and her Children
Bertolt Brecht
Germany, play
1941
The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, The
Bertolt Brecht
Germany, play
1942
The Seventh Cross
Anna Seghers
Germany, novel
1943
The Good Person of Szechwan
Bertolt Brecht
Germany, play
 
The Life of Galileo
Bertolt Brecht
Germany, play
1944
Transit
Anna Seghers
Germany, novel
1945
The Caucasian Chalk Circle
Bertolt Brecht
Germany, play
1947
The Diary of a Young Girl
Anne Frank
Germany, memoir
 
Doctor Faustus
Germany, novel
1948
Mr Puntila and His Man Matti
Bertolt Brecht
Germany, play
1951
And Where Were You, Adam
Heinrich Böll
Germany, novel
1952
The Black Swan
Thomas Mann
Germany, novella
1953
The Hothouse
Wolfgang Koeppen
Germany, novel
1954
Death in Rome
Wolfgang Koeppen
Germany, novel
1955
Raquel: The Jewess of Toledo
Lion Feuchtwanger
Germany, novel
1956
A Legacy
Sybille Bedford
Germany, novel
1957
The Glass Bees
Ernst Jünger
Germany, novel
1959
Billiards at Half Past Nine
Heinrich Böll
Germany, novel
 
The Tin Drum
Günter Grass
Germany, novel
1960
Halftime
Martin Walser
Germany, novel
1961
Cat and Mouse
Günter Grass
Germany, novella
1963
The Clown
Heinrich Böll
Germany, novel
 
Dog Years
Günter Grass
Germany, novel
1968
The German Lesson
Siegfried Lenz
Germany, novel
 
The Quest for Christa T.
Christa Wolf
Germany, novel
1969
Jacob the Liar
Jurek Becker
Germany, novel
1970–1983
Anniversaries
Uwe Johnson
Germany, novel
1971
Group Portrait with a Lady
Heinrich Böll
Germany, novel
1972
The New Sufferings of Young W.
Ulrich Plenzdorf
Germany, novel
1974
The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum
Heinrich Böll
Germany, novella
1976
Patterns of Childhood
Christa Wolf
Germany, novel
1976
The Neverending Story
Michael Ende
Germany, novel
1981
Couples, Passersby
Botho Strauß
Germany, story collection
1984
The Young Man
Botho Strauß
Germany, novel
1985
The Parable of the Blind
Gert Hofmann
Germany, novel
 
Perfume: The Story of a Murderer
Patrick Suskind
Germany, novel
1987
The Pigeon
Patrick Süskind
Germany, novella
1990
Vertigo
W.G. Sebald
Germany, novel
1993
The Emigrants
W.G. Sebald
Germany, novel
 
The Invention of Curried Sausage
Uwe Timm
Germany, novella
1995
The Reader
Bernhard Schlink
Germany, novel
 
The Rings of Saturn
W.G. Sebald
Germany, novel
1997
Alberta Receives a Lover
Birgit Vanderbeke
Germany, novel
2001
Austerlitz
W.G. Sebald
Germany, novel
2004
The Swarm
Frank Schätzing
Germany, novel
2005
Measuring the World
Daniel Kehlmann
Germany, novel
2007
The Blind Side of the Heart
Julia Franck
Germany, novel
2008
Visitation
Jenny Erpenbeck
Germany, novel

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