Poetry Book Society Recommended Translation
Hans Magnus Enzensberger was born in 1929 in Bavaria and grew up in Nazi Nuremberg. His poetry's social and moral criticism of the post-war world owes much to Marxism, yet insists on the freedoms which often denied by Communist governments: like Orwell he maintains that satire and criticism should not be party-political. As well as being Germany's most important poet, he is a provocative cultural essayist and one of Europe’s leading political thinkers. No British poet can match him in his range of interests and his moral passion.
Enzensberger's Selected Poems draws on several collections published over three decades, right up to Music of the Future. It includes a large selection from The Sinking of the Titanic, which The Guardian called 'a brilliant fantasia on the foundering of western society'. For George Szirtes, writing in the New Statesman, it was 'a dramatic and philosophical statement of compulsive power…our emotions and our reason are driven along together as in the best of Brecht. We hear in Enzensberger the human voice amongst human voices, feel the extraordinariness of ordinary men.'
His two later Bloodaxe collections are Kiosk (1997), translated by Michael Hamburger, and Lighter Than Air (2002), translated by David Constantine.
‘Hans Magnus Enzensberger is a poet of formidable intelligence and range. Like Brecht before him, he combines an intense political imagination with lyric gusto. The reader discovers in him both a satirist and a friend.’
- George Steiner