Saturday, July 19, 2014

Link roundup mostly on literary Prussians & Berliners

Brecht portrait by Rudolf Schlichter (1926)
Michael Hofmann on Wolfgang Koeppen:
The one exception, the single oasis in thirty-five years of literary-commercial desert, the very last of the Sibylline books, is Jugend (Youth), which was first published in 1976 as number 500 in the iconic Bibliothek Suhrkamp series (there was really no limit to Unseld's generosity and thoughtfulness), when Koeppen turned seventy. "Dear Wolfgang," wrote the gallant [and long suffering Siegfried] Unseld as late as 1 July of that year, "I'm awaiting Youth every day, with the sort of intensity with which one only and always waits for youth." This time, for whatever reason, Koeppen didn't disappoint him. 
Adam Thirlwell on Michael Hofmann's translation of Gottfried Benn's poems:
Benn’s late style is one of literature’s great inventions, and the composition of this selection conditions its reader to concentrate on that phenomenon: from 1912 to 1947, a period of 35 years, Hofmann offers just twenty-four poems, while from 1949 to 1955, the last six years of Benn’s life, there are a lavish forty-eight.
Rebecca Schuman has three posts this week on Heinrich von Kleist. She focuses on his Kant crisis and the Marquise of O.

Steven Howe remarks on Kant in connection with Kleist's Schroffenstein Family:
Here one can detect the influence of Kleist’s encounter with Kantian philosophy, which appears to have shattered his faith in the possibilities of absolute truth and knowledge. The fallibility of perception emerges, as a consequence, as a dominant theme and subject of reflection in Kleist’s work, and remains so across his entire literary corpus. In Schroffenstein, this manifests itself through the frequent recurrence of error and confusion, bred by the characters’ inability to communicate and their attendant susceptibility to misreading reality.
Trevor Berrett on Theodor Fontane's Irretrievable.

Last year, H. B. Nisbet published a 736-page book on Lessing. Reviewed in the LRB by Jonathan Rée.

In BOMB, Richard Foreman reviews Philip Glahn's new book on Bertolt Brecht. Here's the publisher's site for the book. It's also reviewed by Gregory Sholette at Brooklyn Rail.

A bigger Brecht book, by Stephen Parker, is reviewed by Donald Sassoon, and by John Yargo, and by David Blackbourn, and by Alison Flood.

Ingrid Rowland reviews Emily J. Levine's Dreamland of Humanists: Warburg, Cassirer, Panofsky, and the Hamburg School:
Focusing on Aby Warburg’s library and two of its most illustrious users, the philosopher Ernst Cassirer and the art historian Erwin Panofsky, [Levine] reveals the ways in which the distinctive qualities of a single place conditioned the development of ideas in a larger sense to create a “Hamburg School” of thought, a school intimately connected with Jewish experience in Imperial and Weimar Germany.

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