Escapism and Heroism

Simon Strauss and Connie Palmen discuss Romanticism. Is Romanticism dangerously feeding into anti-liberal movements, or can it offer Europe solutions in our turbulent day and age?

Escapism and Heroism

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Are you afraid you haven’t truly lived? You’re not alone. A young European generation seems tired of the compromises in politics and life. No wonder young authors, like Simon Strauss, are writing stories filled with intense emotions, real experiences, nostalgia and heroic individuals. Because of the focus on emotions and the individual, these Romantic stories are often negatively viewed as feeding into anti-liberal movements. Are these stories forces against freedom, equality and democracy? Or can Romanticism offer Europe solutions in our turbulent day and age? We discuss it with Simon Strauss and the famous Dutch author Connie Palmen.

Writer and journalist Simon Strauss from Germany – a country known for its pragmatism and long tradition of compromise – wrote his debut novel Seven Nights about hitting 30 and the fear of never having truly lived. Connie Palmen wrote her debutnovel De Wetten in 1991 about a similar topic. Some say these romantic stories might be feeding into right wing, anti-liberal movements. What can these authors say about the possibilities of Romanticism?

About the speakers

Simon Strauss (Germany 1988) is a German historian, journalist and author. In 2017 he released his debut novel Sieben Nächte (2017) to much critical acclaim. The Tagesspiegel hailed him as one the greatest talents of his generation.

Connie Palmen is one of the most infuential Dutch authors, and has been for a long time. Her debutnovel De Wetten (1991) was incredibly succesfull, selling more than 400.000 copies, and translated into more than 24 languages.


This is a co-production between De Balie and Goethe-Institut. The Goethe-Institut is organizing an international cultural symposium in Weimar from 19 to 21 June 2019 under the title Recalculating the Route. Find more information here:


Simon StraussAuthor, historic and journalist
Connie PalmenAuthor
(photo: Anneleen Louwes)
“The fear of compromises is really paralyzing. In a while I only have conversations that start with ‘stress’ and end with ‘busy, busy, busy’.” – Strauss, Seven Nights
Publisher: Nieuw Amsterdam
Publisher: Prometheus