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This report is taken from PN Review 94, Volume 20 Number 2, November - December 1993.

Regionalism, Nationalism, internationalism Michael Hamburger

Because I mistrust generalizations, and because, by the circumstances of my life, I am usually treated as a special case in British poetry; I must begin by presenting the data of my special case. The complexities and contradictions of that case may go some way towards explaining the complexities and seeming contradictions of my attitude towards questions of regional, national and international allegiances.

I came to Britain at the age of nine as an immigrant from Germany: Though of Jewish descent, my family had been so thoroughly assimilated to German culture, at least since the emancipation in Napoleonic times, that I grew up in total ignorance of Jewish antecedents, including the Jewish religion. My father was an agnostic, my mother became a Quaker after his early death. The process of assimilation had become acute two generations before mine. One of my great-uncles had become a Protestant, a Lutheran, when he married a non-Jewish wife - who stayed with him throughout the Third Reich, so helping him to survive it in Germany: My paternal grand father was a writer in his youth, a cultural correspondent in Paris for German periodicals, and he devoted himself to acquainting German readers with French Naturalism, Daudet and Zola, before that movement had become a dominant force in German writing, as it did only in the 1880s. On both sides of my family regional roots had been severed. My father's family had come to Berlin from Silesia, my mother's from the Rhineland and ...


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