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This report is taken from PN Review 22, Volume 8 Number 2, November - December 1981.

Letter from Germany Michael Hulse
May 1981

PN Review 18 featured seventeen poems by the German poet Peter Huchel and a short introduction to his work by Michael Hamburger. Now, before the edition of the enlarged Selected Poems of Peter Huchel can appear, comes news of the poet's death, at the age of 78, on 30 April.

Huchel was born in Berlin in 1903 and had a long and distinguished career in letters. After a childhood spent in the March of Brandenburg he studied at the universities of Berlin, Freiburg and Vienna, and it was in his undergraduate days that his first poems appeared in print, in 1924. At this time he contributed work to Paul Westheim's Kunstblätter, Willy Hass's influential Die literarische Welt, and to Kolonne, and in 1932 was awarded the Kolonne prize for lyric poetry. In 1941 he enlisted and served on the eastern front, returning at the end of the war to a job as artistic director of Berlin Radio, which he held until 1948; then in 1949 he became editor-in-chief of Sinn und Form. This East German periodical was founded by Johannes R. Becher, but it was only during the period of Huchel's firm and clear-sighted editorship that it became the influential and esteemed publication described by Walter Jens as 'the secret journal of the nation'. Huchel published without ideological bias. He published Adorno, Benjamin, Lukacs, Marcuse. He published Brecht's work on Barlach, and Hans Eisler's provocative theses attacking socialist realism. He also gave Johannes Bobrowski, one ...


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