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Gustav René Hocke

Gustav René Hocke

Gustav René Hocke

“Journalist and freelance writer”, Gustav René Hocke, who was born in Brussels in 1908, used to answer quite proudly when asked about his profession. Indeed, for as long as he lived, Hocke navigated between these two poles. He worked as a foreign correspondent in Rome for several newspapers and magazines, while at the same time producing an extensive literary oeuvre, which is of great importance, especially for art and literature history.

Immediately after completing his PhD in Bonn in 1934, Hocke was accepted as a “trainee” with the Kölnischen Zeitung. During the Nazi regime, this newspaper was considered to be a “nest of passive resistance”, as Luise Rinser put it. With her, Hocke maintained a friendship for over more than 40 years. In 1937 Hocke went to Italy for the first time. His love for this country was born and immediately manifested itself in the book The Vanished Face (Das Verschwundene Gesicht, 1939).

It was only reasonable that the Kölnische Zeitung sent Hocke to Rome as a correspondent in 1940. In addition to his journalistic work, he dedicated eight years to the preparation and writing of his novel The Dancing God (Der Tanzende Gott). It was published in 1948. Today, critics count this novel as one of the most important manuscripts repressed by the Nazi regime.

After his internment in an American prisoner-of-war camp — where he was to found the first anti-fascistic prisoner-of-war magazine “Der Ruf” — he returned to Rome in 1949. Here he worked for a number of German newspapers and magazines as the first German foreign correspondent in Italy. Rome, or more exactly a small Roman suburb became the centre of his life.

In 1985, he died here after a long, grave illness. Luise Rinser wrote in her obituary about him, that he had worked like fury and that the many conversations during their long friendship had all been centred around one subject: “The human being in their despair and the expression this despair found in art.

Today, his art history works The World as a Labyrinth (Die Welt als Labyrinth) and Mannerism in Literature (Manierismus in der Literatur), are considered his most important books. Additionally, Hocke wrote numerous essays and monographs. In 1963, he published the first complete account of European journals from the Renaissance to the present. He was honoured with numerous awards, including the Deutsches Verdienstkreuz, the Goldenes Verdienstkreuz der österreichischen Republik and the De-Gaspari-Preis für Völkerverständigung for his literary work as well as his tireless efforts for the communication between the cultures.


  • Verzweiflung und Zuversicht
  • Malerei der Gegenwart: Der Neomanierismus
    Vom Surrealismus zur Meditation
  • Die Welt als Labyrinth
    Manierismus in der europäischen Kunst und Literatur


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