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This review is taken from PN Review 165, Volume 32 Number 1, September - October 2005.

A SPECIAL SYNERGY PETER HUCHEL, The Garden of Theophrastus, translated by Michael Hamburger (Anvil) £10.95

Denied the high profile awarded to Rilke and Trakl, German-language post-war poets, with the exception of Celan, have been herded into a 'B' list destined to emerge only intermittently in English translation when a cash-strapped small press manages to give them the exposure they deserve. Many people are still unaware of the powerful voices of Günter Eich, Ernst Meister and especially Peter Huchel. Huchel's poems were first made available to Anglophone readers through the endeavours of Michael Hamburger, with the appearance of a slim volume of Selected Poems from Carcanet in 1974. This brief but potent work with its distinctive leaden cover could be classed as something of a classic to those who properly appreciate European poetry, rather like the Cape edition of Hamburger's Trakl from 1968, which is now almost impossible to acquire. In 1983 Carcanet published an updated and enlarged new collection of Huchel entitled The Garden of Theophrastus. This much meatier selection has been unavailable for many years but has now been reissued by Anvil, since presumably Hamburger, a long-time friend and supporter of Huchel, impressed on his publisher the need for a new edition. Those who have read Huchel are usually persuaded that here is a master poet at work, words echoed by Martin Dodsworth, who adds, 'Again and again something "shines" in this melancholy, allusive poetry.' Fortunately newcomers to Huchel or old admirers are now able to experience that arcane radiance once more.

Peter Huchel was ...


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