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This review is taken from PN Review 107, Volume 22 Number 3, January - February 1996.

BOTH SIDES OF THE BORDER MICHAEL KRÜGER, Diderot's Cat, Selected Poems. Introduced and translated by Richard Dove (Carcanet) £9.95

This first collection of Michael Krüger's poems is a welcome addition to the canon of contemporary German poetry now available in English. While not all of his poems work (any more), the best of them are able to catch glimpses, moments of West German lives and reflect upon them.

As Richard Dove states in his introduction: 'Through a glass darkly, it is possible to make out the mood of the times from the uneasy summer preceding the terrorist-ridden "German Autumn" of 1977 to the second "German Autumn" of 1989 and beyond.' This collection tries to sketch movements within the author and relate them to worldly images and events.

It is a book which draws on more than twenty years and ten volumes of poetry, and can therefore rightly claim to represent a fair share of the author's travails. However, poetry is not the only mode of expression that Michael Krüger commands; he also writes prose, translates and draws; furthermore, he was the co-editor and then only editor of such important literary journals as Tintenfisch and Akzente. He started out learning the printing trade, became a bookseller in London, and then worked as a lector for the Hanser publishing house in Munich.

This breadth of experience is reflected in his poems. While there are many poems that deal with Germany, others take far-away places as their material, this fact possibly speaking in itself for the continuing wanderlust of a postwar generation not quite at ...


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