Sofsky-Wolfgang1Professor Wolfgang Sofsky is a sociologist, journalist and writer. He was professor of Sociology at Göttingen and Erfurt Universities, and contributes regularly to papers such as Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Die Welt etc. His habilitation »The Order of Terror« was awarded the prestigious Geschwister-Scholl Prize in 1993. In 2015 he is the inaugural winner of the Holbach Prize for his lifetime achievements as a writer. His books have been translated into several languages.

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Wolfgang Sofsky Abgründe

Einfälle, Ausfälle, Gedankenfälle


(January 2016)348 pp

ABYSSES: Insights, Outbursts, Thoughts

This is a selection of essays from Wolfgang Sofsky's blog Caprichos published in 2015. It follows directly on the 2014 selection »Lichte Finsternis« and looks at subjects ranging from terrorism to religion, and from power to literature and music. The central theme are the abysses in the human condition.

Wolfgang Sofsky Lichte Finsternis

Portraits, Analysen, Maskeraden

Books on Demand
(April 2015)
288 pp

LIGHT DARKNESS: Portraits, Analyses, Masquerades

The topics in this selection of entries from Wolfgang Sofsky's blog range from analyses of current affairs to fictitious dialogues in the back-rooms of politics, and from portraits and obituaries to concise meditations on art, music and literature.

The short pieces are more than just diary notations. The sociologist comments on the wars in Ukraine and the Middle East, the culture critic keeps our varied heritage alive, and the anthropologist investigates the behaviour of the species.

The blog entries (all dating from 2014) form a treasure trove of ideas and findings, where serious appreciations stand next to vitriolic diatribes. At the end, Sofsky always returns to the lasting works of art, to Shakespeare, Fussli, Chopin, Kafka, or Beckett.

Wolfgang Sofsky Weisenfels


Matthes & Seitz Berlin (September 2014)
236 pp


A man visits a childhood friend in his castle. They haven't spoken with each other in years. He finds the house radically changed. Countless faces inhabit the rooms, gods and angels, masks and figures keep the two men company. During the 19 hour visit, while they eat and drink and smoke, they talk about life and beauty and death. These conversations are so intimate that they read like monologues, soliloquies and phantasies of the lonesome visitor. The area is nearly deserted, the park overgrown and the old fort barely more than a derelict place of memory.

WEISENFELS takes the reader to a place far removed from actuality. But history of art and culture, of seeing and thinking is just as present as the future in this place stripped of contemporaries.

After his prose volume "Einzelgänger", Wolfgang Sofsky now presents a work that artfully combines fiction, reflection and art appreciation.

»If you immerse yourself in this book with its artful language, its decelerated pace, Sofsky's attention to detail and his radical thinking, will not be satisifed with a single reading.« (Carsten Hueck, Deutschlandradio Kultur)



Matthes & Seitz Berlin (2013)
202 pp


LONERS opens up a magic cabinet of mesmerizing characters. Hermit, prophet, king or jester, traitor, gambler, arist, drunk, they are alone, lonely, left behind and lost to the world. Wolfgang Sofsky tells of people outside society, outcast, lost, deceived, confused or enlightened.

Sofsky's prose debut not only presents a collection of curios, it is also a stylistic jewel, intense and of raw elegance, full of references and symbols. He reminds the reader of pictures, motifs or characters in various arts, who gain a meaning entirely their own in Sofsky's tales. Some resemble meditations, that for a moment coalesce into action, others resemble parables or small dramas with a tragic ending.




Art, Essays
Matthes & Seitz Berlin (2011)
271 pp illustr.


Images of violence can frighten or enchant, unsettle or delight, their ambiguous effect due, in parts, to the viewer's distance to the depicted. They confront us with the question of who we are, and allow sensory perception, meditative contemplation and intellectual cognition

Wolfgang Sofsky meticulously interprets works of art that depict violence and ways of dying. In brilliant essays he penetrates their aesthetic appeal and imaginative power. He creates a panoramic view of murder and manslaughter, battle and war, punishment and sacrifice that opens up new ways of seeing. From the earliest expressions of art in the cave drawings of Lascaux to paintings of Christian martyrs and right to modern war photography, Sofsky shows Western history of art as an iconography of violence.

"a masterpiece" (Lorenz Jäger, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung)
"highly recommended" (Patrick Kilian, Ikonen Magazine)
"intelligent and original" (Franziska Augstein, Süddeutsche Zeitung)



Ethics, Essays
C.H.Beck (2009)
272 pp


France: Editions Circé (2012)


The project of moral improvement of our species has largely failed. All endeavours to create humane conditions are fruitless as long as we don't understand why people wrong each other and make evil part of their character. He who intends to speak of goodness therefore cannot omit speaking of evil and he who intends to speak of evil must study all those common errors, failures and vices that precede true evil. Wolfgang Sofsky turns his unflinching eye on human nature and the entire range of immoral behaviour: indifference, cowardice and self-pity, avarice and envy, folly and guile, pride and servility, injustice and cruelty. He describes in detail the effects of their dynamics on our soul and their significance for the individual, for society and politics. With laconic intensity  this essay sheds light on the dark sides of human nature.


Eine Streitschrift

Current Affairs
C.H.Beck (2007)
158 pp


English (world): Princeton University Press (2008)
Spanish (world): Editorial Pretextos (2009)
Italian: Einaudi (2010)
French: Editions de l'Herne (2011);

PRIVACY: A Manifesto

Sofsky turns his anti-etatistic eye towards the various aspects of privacy (such as: private property, intimacy, private spheres, inviolability of the body, data protection etc.) and the constant threats to privacy (from market forces, the state, society, ourselves). This is provocative because he does not relativise his definitions and observations, nor provide any reasons or explanations or recommendations how to protect privacy better. Privacy, for Sofsky, is the one non-negotiable absolute value. You can’t NOT agree with his observations, though you feel an urge to cry out and contradict. This reduced and radical form makes for provocative reading  - which is why Sofsky calls the book a "Streitschrift" (pamphlet)  - but it also inspires readers to think for themselves. In times of surveillance cameras, bonus customer cards, realitiy tv shows and internet blogs, this can be a painful process, but it’s important and very timely.