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This article is taken from PN Review 3, Volume 4 Number 3, April - June 1978.

Time for Dreams Michael Hamburger

THIS OFFICIALLY sponsored anthology, produced in the GDR for English-speaking readers, appears at a moment of what looks like unprecedented crisis in the relations between East German poets and the officialdom that licenses or prohibits their writings. The inevitable time-lag between selection and publication gives a bitterly ironic twist to the event. At least one contributor to the anthology, Reiner Kunze, could not have been included but for that time-lag, since he has now been expelled from the Writers' Union and subjected to a campaign of vilification reminsicent of those once directed against Wolf Biermann, whom Kunze had the courage to defend at the time. Biermann-not represented in the anthology, since for more than a decade his work had been prohibited in his country-has now been extradited, if that is the right word for the trickery that consisted in granting him a visa to give a concert in West Germany and refusing him re-entry. Another contributor to the anthology, Bernd Jentzsch, has protested against Kunze's expulsion and Biermann's extradition in an open letter to Erich Honecker published in a West German newspaper. About a hundred other prominent East German artists and intellectuals who did not happen to be out of the country at that moment, as Jentzsch was, have also appealed against Biermann's extradition.

Such circumstances ought to be irrelevant to an anthology of poems, and an anthology by no means blatantly propagandist or tendentious in character, if only because it was compiled at a time of ...


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