Selected Poems and Fragments
ISBN 9780140424164 | 240 pages | 01 Sep 1998 | Penguin Classics | 5.07 x 7.79in | 18 - AND UP
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Friedrich Hölderlin (1770-1843) is now recognized as one of Europe's supreme poets. Although he was scarcely known to his contemporaries and became deeply unstable in the latter part of his life, when he lived in virtual seclusion, he produced, writes Michael Hamburger, a poetic work 'rich in potentialities and possiblities for the "future ages" in which he placed his hope'. Hölderlin first found his true voice in the epigrams and odes he wrote when transfigured by his love for Susette Gontard, the wife of a rich banker to whose children he was tutor. He later embarked on an extraordinarily ambitious sequence of hymns exploring cosmology and history from mythological times to the discovery of America and his own era. The 'Canticles of Night', by contrast, include enigmatic fragments in an utterly unprecedented style which anticipates the Symbolists and Surrealists. Throughout his career, he struggled desperately to reconcile his faith in the power of nature, as embodied in the gods of ancient Greece, with conventional Christianity. In this superb bilingual selection, Hamburger has produced the definitive English version of a German literary giant.