WEILLING, THE PLACE AND ITS PEOPLE – Claudia Gschweitl – ORF – Austria

subtitled video | 39 min


Weilling, the Place and its People.
The Birth, Death, and second Death of the Author Max Maetz.

An Investigation by Claudia Gschweitl (ORF Radio Ö1, 2019)

In the early 1970ies, a naïve young farmer from Upper Austria stomped his way onto the German literary stage to the accompaniment of significant public interest.
Without period or comma but with experimental verve Max Maetz’s “Weilling, the Place and its People.
A rustic novel” describes rural life in intimate detail, using “an idiom tailored to the faux pedestrian-ness of his prose”, as the book’s cover blurb claims.
The versifying farmer from the solitude near St. Florian receives an important literary reward for his “unvarnished description of rural life”.
He is scheduled to appear at the Frankfurt Book Fair, but even before the publication of his novel, Max Maetz dies in a tragic tractor accident.

Why is this remarkable talent so little known today?
What are people keeping so dead quiet about?
In town, Max Maetz probably made few friends with his stories about hostility towards foreigners, sodomy, and all sorts of fornication.
The circumstances of his death likewise remain mysterious, many questions unanswered.
Claudia Gschweitl went to Weilling in search of answers to these questions.

Sound: Elmar Peinelt
Editors: Alfred Koch
Series: Tonspuren
First broadcast: 26 / 11 / 2019
Length: 39 min
Producer: ORF / Radio Ö1
Translation: Michael Hastik

Author, Director:

Claudia Gschweitl

Claudia Gschweitl by Video [4 min]


4 thoughts on “WEILLING, THE PLACE AND ITS PEOPLE – Claudia Gschweitl – ORF – Austria


    What starts as an understated literary quest, turns out to be exciting story about one man’s remarkable ability to repeatedly reinvent himself as an author.
    Although it might be difficult to appreciate the original style of translated excerpts read-out by an actor, the story Max Maetz gradually builds up like a puzzle.
    A colourful portrait of a complex man comes together, stitched up by subtle sound design.
    What worked for you the most, and what would you have done differently?

  2. Hello Claudia!

    What a beautiful twist of a tale, you made us believe Max was real 🙂 A slightly out-of-tune intro music could be a hint, it felt that something is wrong here, so it certainly has set the mood – and the effect was twice as powerful. Multilayered, funny and sad at the same time, and a good insight into the history of Austria, thank you!

    1. Hello Vladimir, thank you so much for your words! I’m delighted to hear, that it’s also interesting for people who are not from Austria. 🙂

  3. SPOILER ALERT in text below!
    The question that arises is: Why author (Claudia Gschweitl) is playing with us – or perhaps in better words: fooling us. Does she just want to play with listener? Is it all just playful game created by author? Or maybe she tries to act just like Karl Wiesinger – to support the fake reputation about non-existent author. Narrative is well composed, especially the narrative enigma is very engaging. The biggest problem lies in the amatuerish actor, who plays Max in the beggining – becouse (unlike other situations and people in the ,,document”) he isn´t from the real world, he was added later. At the point, when we find out that Max is pseudonym of Karl Wiesinger, listener takes a step back becouse he realizes that Gschweitl lied to him/her – from that moment listener slowly loses attention becouse he/she feels cheated. Without this particular moment, the work would be much more complex, clear and narratively pure.

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