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Impromptus Selected Poems and Some Prose,9780374175375

Impromptus Selected Poems and Some Prose

by ;
Format: Hardcover
Pub. Date: 11/5/2013
Publisher(s): Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Availability: This title is currently not available.


An extraordinary collection of poetry and prose from the master of German expressionism

The first poem in Gottfried Benn's first book, Morgue (1912)—written in an hour, published in a week, and notorious ever after—with its scandalous closing image of an aster sewn into a corpse by a playful medical student, set Benn on the path to celebrity and notoriety. And indeed, mortality, flowers, and powerful aesthetic collisions typify much of his subsequent work.

Over the decades, as Benn suffered the vicissitudes of fate (the death of his mother from cancer; the death of his first wife, Edith; his brief attempt to ingratiate himself with the Nazis, followed by their persecution of him; the suicide of his second wife, Herta), the harsh voice of the poems relented and mellowed. His later poetry—from which Impromptus is chiefly drawn, many of the poems translated into English for the first time—is deeply affecting: it reflects the routines and sorrows and meditations of an intelligent, pessimistic, and experienced man. Written in the low, unupholstered monologue of the poet talking to himself, these works are slender ribbons of speech on the naked edge of song and silence.

With this collection of poems and essays—edited and translated by the award-winning poet Michael Hofmann—Benn, at long last, promises to attain the presence and importance in the English-speaking world that he so richly deserves.

Author Biography

Gottfried Benn (1886–1956) earned his medical degree in 1910 and began publishing poems two years later. The leading poet of German expressionism, and the author of brilliant essays and dialogues, he spent both world wars as an officer attached to the German Medical Corps. Benn lived and practiced in Berlin, was married three times, and won the Georg Büchner Prize in 1951. Michael Hofmann is the author of several books of poems and many translations from the German. He edited Twentieth-Century German Poetry (FSG, 2006) and teaches at the University of Florida in Gainesville.

Table of Contents

"Little Aster," "Beautiful Youth," "Circulation," "Night Cafe," "Alaska," "The Young Hebbel," "Threat," "Songs," "Then Icarus fell at our feet...," "Express Train," "Englishes Cafe," "Spa Concert," "Caryatid," "Jena," "Never Lonelier," "Asters," "Turin," "Ah, the faraway land," "Chopin," "Death of Orpheus," "September," "Tracing," "S. Petersburg--Mid-Century," "Static Poems," "Evenings of Certain Lives," "A Shadow on the Wall," "Fragments," "Think of the Unsatisfied Ones," "Syntax," Finis Polniae," "Nocturne," "Gladioli," "Restaurant," "Blue Hour," "Theoretical Afterlife?" "Still Life," "Encounters," "Hymn," "What's Bad," "Foreign Ministers," "Dream," "Despair," "Impromptu," "Bauxite," "Only fleetiung now," "Left the House," "People Met," "Rowans," "Last Spring," "Late," "Devastations," "They Are Human After All," "Par ci, pa la," "No Tears," "Expressionist!" "1886," "Silence," "Wet Fences," "Clemenceau," "Little Sweet Face," How are the beech trees in September...," "Divergences," "Herr Wehner," "Little Cultural Commentary," "Radio," "Thinking," "Listen:," "Breathe," "Epilogue," "Paris," "Summa Summarum," "The Season," "Rilke," "Block II, Room 66," "Knut Hamsun: 'On Overgrown Paths,'" "I never had differences...," "'Do you write at a desk?'" "'What may reads look forward to?'" "Aging as a Problem for Artists"

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