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You Dying Nations

Jeremy Adler: Georg Trakl

17 April 2003
Poems and Prose 
by Georg Trakl, translated by Alexander Stillmark.
Libris, 192 pp., £40, March 2001, 1 870352 51 3
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... a third of the annual income from his inheritance – 100,000 Austrian crowns – to Ludwig von Ficker, the editor of the journal Der Brenner, to be shared out between worthy poets. When Ficker chose GeorgTrakl as one beneficiary, Wittgenstein said that he didn’t understand Trakl’s poems, but felt they bore the stamp of ‘genius’. In the autumn Wittgenstein was serving on the Eastern Front and ...

Hoo-Hooing in the Birch

Michael Hofmann: Tomas Tranströmer

15 June 2016
Bright Scythe: Selected Poems 
by Tomas Tranströmer, translated by Patty Crane.
Sarabande, 207 pp., £13, November 2015, 978 1 941411 21 6
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... as anything other than the poet of his life and time and place. At best, maybe, in the single-sentence lines especially, with his cold burn and primary diction, a stragglier version of the Austrian GeorgTrakl: ‘The jacket threadbare as a wolf pack./The face like a marble slab./Sitting in the circle of his letters in the grove that rustles/with scorn and error,/the heart blowing like a scrap of ...

Making sense

Denis Donoghue

4 October 1984
A Wave 
by John Ashbery.
Carcanet, 89 pp., £4.95, August 1984, 9780856355479
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Secret Narratives 
by Andrew Motion.
Salamander, 46 pp., £6, March 1983, 0 907540 29 5
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Liberty Tree 
by Tom Paulin.
Faber, 78 pp., £4, June 1983, 0 05 711302 5
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111 Poems 
by Christopher Middleton.
Carcanet, 185 pp., £5.95, April 1983, 0 85635 457 0
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New and Selected Poems 
by James Michie.
Chatto, 64 pp., £3.95, September 1983, 0 7011 2723 6
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By the Fisheries 
by Jeremy Reed.
Cape, 79 pp., £4, March 1984, 0 224 02154 0
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Voyages 
by George Mackay Brown.
Chatto, 48 pp., £3.95, September 1983, 0 7011 2736 8
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... The notes to Carminalenia are dropped, and I miss them. It is helpful to know what Middleton has in view in such a poem as ‘Night Blooming Cereus’, where a student who is reading a poem by GeorgTrakl – the poem is ‘Mensehliches Elend’, incidentally – is set in relation to the flower of the title ‘as the flower itself comes into the foreground’. The poem then ‘formally ...

Fraud Squad

Ferdinand Mount: Imposters

2 August 2007
The Tichborne Claimant: A Victorian Sensation 
by Rohan McWilliam.
Continuum, 363 pp., £25, March 2007, 978 1 85285 478 2
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A Romanov Fantasy: Life at the Court of Anna Anderson 
by Frances Welch.
Short Books, 327 pp., £14.99, February 2007, 978 1 904977 71 1
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The Lost Prince: The Survival of Richard of York 
by David Baldwin.
Sutton, 220 pp., £20, July 2007, 978 0 7509 4335 2
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... story in one way or another, among them Trollope, Patrick White, Robin Maugham and Julian Symons, just as Dumas, and Boublil and Schönberg, have pounced on the story of Martin Guerre, and Verlaine, GeorgTrakl and Peter Handke, not to mention a dozen playwrights and film-makers, have taken up the tale of Kaspar Hauser. These days the celebrity machine has taken over the translation business: Bottom ...

The Past’s Past

Thomas Laqueur

19 September 1996
Sites of Memory, Sites of Mourning: The Great War in European Cultural History 
by Jay Winter.
Cambridge, 310 pp., £12.95, September 1996, 0 521 49682 9
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... By the first poem, ‘Miners’, Owen writes: ‘How the Future will forget the dead of war’. None of this seems to sustain the comforting theme of the Resurrection. There are, to be sure, lines in GeorgTrakl which justify Winter’s claim that ‘spiritualism and dark spirituality merge in a familiar and gloomy romantic haze.’ But there are many others redolent of a bitter, estranged, ironic ...
20 April 1989
Martin Heidegger: Unterwegs zu seiner Biographie 
by Hugo Ott.
Campus Verlag, 355 pp., DM 48, December 1988, 3 593 34035 6
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... its publication in 1927, and mentions but does not enlarge on the lectures and essays of the last period, many of which are based on Heidegger’s readings of the poetry of Hölderlin, Rilke and GeorgTrakl. All the same, he does quote abundantly from Heidegger’s philosophical writings, and his comments on these quotations are closely related to the biography. The strength of the book lies in ...

Sorry to be so vague

Hugh Haughton: Eugene Jolas and Samuel Beckett

29 July 1999
Man from Babel 
by Eugene Jolas.
Yale, 352 pp., £20, January 1999, 0 300 07536 7
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No Author Better Served: The Correspondence of Samuel Beckett and Alan Schneider 
edited by Maurice Harmon.
Harvard, 486 pp., £21.95, October 1998, 0 674 62522 6
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... first issue of transition of 1927 included paintings by Ernst and poems by the American Modernist Hart Crane, the French Surrealists Robert Desnos and Philippe Soupault and the German Expressionist GeorgTrakl (in translations from French and German by Eugene Jolas). A decade later, the last issue was still churning out Work in Progress, now alongside work by Hans Arp, Beckett, Breton, Kafka (the ...

Catching

Michael Hofmann

23 May 1996
Paul Celan: Poet, Survivor, Jew 
by John Felstiner.
Yale, 344 pp., £19.95, June 1995, 0 300 06068 8
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Breathturn 
by Paul Celan, translated by Pierre Joris.
Sun & Moon, 261 pp., $21.95, September 1995, 1 55713 218 6
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... Joseph Roth). In Celan’s case, this came to him from his mother: German was, in every sense, his mother-tongue. Already as a boy, he loved poetry, first Goethe and Schiller, then Hölderlin, Heine, Trakl, Kafka and in particular Rilke. He spoke German, Hebrew, Romanian and some Yiddish and was obviously an exceptional linguist, later translating poetry from Russian, English, French and Italian. And ...

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