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The Divorce

Hans MagnusEnzensberger, translated by Michael Hamburger, 18 February 1982

... At first it was only an imperceptible quivering of the skin – ‘As you wish’ – where the flesh is darkest. ‘What’s wrong with you?’ – Nothing. Milky dreams of embraces; next morning, though, the other looks different, strangely bony. Razor-sharp misunderstandings. ‘That time, in Rome –’ I never said that. A pause. And furious palpitations, a sort of hatred, strange ...


Claude Rawson, 1 October 1981

The Sinking of the Titanic 
by Hans MagnusEnzensberger.
Carcanet, 98 pp., £3.95, April 1981, 0 85635 372 8
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Paul Celan: Poems 
translated by Michael Hamburger.
Carcanet, 307 pp., £7.95, September 1980, 0 85635 313 2
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Talk about the Last Poet 
by Charles Johnston.
Bodley Head, 78 pp., £4.50, July 1981, 0 370 30434 9
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... Hans MagnusEnzensberger wrote The Sinking of the Titanic in German. From information supplied in the poem, which in its present form is much preoccupied with the process of its composition, he began writing it in Havana in 1969, and completed it in Berlin in 1977: the poem is thus a close contemporary of Doctorow’s Ragtime, with which it shares several features of its subject-matter, including the historical period ...

Green Thoughts

Colin Ward, 19 January 1989

Seasons of the Seal 
by Fred Bruemmer and Brian Davies.
Bloomsbury, 160 pp., £16.95, October 1988, 0 7475 0214 5
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Whale Nation 
by Heathcote Williams.
Cape, 191 pp., £15, August 1988, 0 224 02555 4
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Falling for a dolphin 
by Heathcote Williams.
Cape, 47 pp., £4.95, November 1988, 0 224 02659 3
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Prisoners of the Seas 
by K.A. Gourlay.
Zed, 256 pp., £25.95, November 1988, 0 86232 686 9
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Progress for a Small Planet 
by Barbara Ward.
Earthscan, 298 pp., £5.95, September 1988, 1 85383 028 3
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Future Earth: Exploring the Frontiers of Space 
edited by Nigel Calder and John Newell.
Christopher Helm, 255 pp., £14.95, November 1988, 9780747004202
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Sizewell B: An Anatomy of the Enquiry 
by Timothy O’Riordan, Ray Kemp and Michael Purdue.
Macmillan, 474 pp., £45, September 1988, 0 333 38944 1
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Early Green Politics 
by Peter Gould.
Harvester, 225 pp., £29.95, June 1988, 0 7108 1192 6
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Dreamers of the Absolute 
by Hans MagnusEnzensberger.
Radius, 312 pp., £7.95, October 1988, 0 09 173240 9
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The Coming of the Greens 
by Jonathon Porritt and David Winner.
Fontana, 287 pp., £4.95, September 1988, 0 00 637244 9
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Ecology and Socialism 
by Martin Ryle.
Radius, 122 pp., £5.95, October 1988, 0 09 182247 5
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... Cohn-Bendit and Rudolf Bahro, for example – have made an ideological shift from red to green. Hans MagnusEnzensberger, whose essay ‘A Critique of Political Ecology’ is included in his volume Dreamers of the Absolute, argues, however, that green people are ‘overwhelmingly members of the middle class, and of ...

In the Opposite Direction

David Blackbourn: Enzensberger, 25 March 2010

The Silences of Hammerstein 
by Hans MagnusEnzensberger, translated by Martin Chalmers.
Seagull, 465 pp., £20, 1 906497 22 2
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... essayist, political commentator, dramatist for radio and stage, influential editor and publisher, Hans MagnusEnzensberger is one of Germany’s leading public intellectuals. He belongs to the same generation as Günter Grass and Jürgen Habermas, although he has been less bien pensant, less predictable, than ...

Great Man

David Blackbourn: Humboldt, 16 June 2011

Nature’s Interpreter: The Life and Times of Alexander von Humboldt 
by Donald McCrory.
Lutterworth, 242 pp., £23, November 2010, 978 0 7188 9231 9
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... someone who writes that the ‘trips undertaken by Humboldt were both seldom and dangerous’? Hans-Magnus Enzensberger, about whom I wrote in these pages last year,* had a hand in the new editions of Humboldt I mentioned at the beginning. He has also written eloquently on Humboldt’s continuing importance, a ...

What do Germans think about when they think about Europe?

Jan-Werner Müller: Germany’s Europe, 9 February 2012

... much evidence of Euroscepticism in the sense of deep discomfort with the European project as such. Hans MagnusEnzensberger thought he could tap into such sentiments when he published Brussels, the Gentle Monster last year.* The essay repeated every Eurosceptic cliché, from the regulation of cucumber width to the ...

Make mine a Worcester Sauce

John Bayley, 23 June 1994

Richard Hughes 
by Richard Perceval Graves.
Deutsch, 491 pp., £20, May 1994, 0 233 98843 2
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... a trilogy, was being considered in 1962 for the Prix Formentor. One of the jury, the German writer Hans MagnusEnzensberger, told me he had enjoyed The Fox in the Attic, but thought it very much an ‘English’ view of the Continent, of Germany more specifically, the sort of view that Germans associated with English ...

Bring on the hypnotist

Neal Ascherson, 12 March 1992

After the Fall: The Failure of Communism and the Future of Socialism 
edited by Robin Blackburn.
Verso, 327 pp., £32.95, November 1991, 0 86091 540 9
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... of the Soviet system. But After the Fall shows that they handle this pain in different ways. Hans MagnusEnzensberger reacts with a sort of derisive populism. The death of Utopia, he argues, hurt bureaucrats and intellectuals alike, both deeply insulted by a spontaneous popular movement which they did not ...


Mark Ford: Donald Justice, 16 November 2006

Collected Poems 
by Donald Justice.
Anvil, 289 pp., £15, June 2006, 0 85646 386 8
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... direct us to sources that include Rafael Alberti, Wang Wei, Catullus, Kafka, Laforgue, Rilke, Hans MagnusEnzensberger, John Peale Bishop, Attila József and the French poet Guillevic, with whose work Justice seems to have felt a special affinity. Yet Justice’s poems are never allusive or disjunctive in the high ...

‘Famous for its Sausages’

David Blackbourn, 2 January 1997

The Politics of the Unpolitical: German Writers and the Problem of Power, 1770-1871 
by Gordon A. Craig.
Oxford, 190 pp., £22.50, July 1995, 0 19 509499 9
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... 1945 – a subject on which he has written elsewhere, extolling the commitment of figures such as Hans-Magnus Enzensberger, Günter Grass and Heinrich Böll. And what became true later had, according to Craig, also been true earlier. The Politics of the Unpolitical performs a balancing act, praising the chosen writers ...

Outside in the Bar

Patrick McGuinness: Ten Years in Sheerness, 21 October 2021

The Sea View Has Me Again: Uwe Johnson in Sheerness 
by Patrick Wright.
Repeater, 751 pp., £20, June, 978 1 913462 58 1
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... Kent Evening Post and the Sheerness Times Guardian were Hannah Arendt, Christa Wolf, Max Frisch, Hans MagnusEnzensberger and Günter Grass. When, in 1978, Jürgen Habermas asked Johnson for an essay for a book he was editing, provisionally titled Observations on ‘The Spiritual Situation of the Age’, Johnson wrote ...

On That Terrible Night …

Christian Schütze: The wartime bombing of Germany, 21 August 2003

On the Natural History of Destruction 
by W.G. Sebald, translated by Anthea Bell.
Hamish Hamilton, 205 pp., £16.99, February 2003, 0 241 14126 5
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Der Brand: Deutschland im Bombenkrieg 1940-45 
by Jörg Friedrich.
Propyläen, 592 pp., €25, November 2002, 3 549 07165 5
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by Gert Ledig, translated by Shaun Whiteside.
Granta, 200 pp., £8.99, May 2003, 1 86207 565 4
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... touching up their own biographies. Sebald is not the only writer to have ask-ed these questions. Hans Magnus Enzens-berger and Alexander Kluge, too, observed signs of individual and collective amnesia, an obsession with the future, a dogged desire to lose oneself in work, above all an ‘inability to mourn’ (the title of a well-known book by Alexander ...

Bites from the Bearded Crocodile

G. Cabrera Infante, 4 June 1981

... of the Revolution as Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, ltalo Calvino, Marguerite Duras, Hans MagnusEnzensberger, Juan Goytisolo, André Pierre de Mandiargues, Alain Jouffroy, Joyce Mansour, Alberto Moravia, Octavio Paz and some others who couldn’t even pronounce the name of Padilla correctly, much less ...

Nation-States and National Identity

Perry Anderson, 9 May 1991

The Identity of France. Vol. II: People and Production 
by Fernand Braudel, translated by Sian Reynolds.
Collins, 781 pp., £25, December 1990, 0 00 217774 9
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... and their reunification could not be deferred indefinitely. On the other side of the dispute, Hans-Ulrich Wehler and Jürgen Habermas rejected any geopolitical definition of the nation as a retrograde heritage of the past that had led to the Nazi regime. For Habermas, German – indeed any acceptable modern – national identity could only be ...

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