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Enzensberger, Hans Magnus

Entry updated 26 February 2024. Tagged: Author.

(1929-2022) German poet, critic, editor, publisher, translator and author who also wrote as by Elisabeth Ambras, Giorgio Pellizzi, Linda Quilt and Andres Thalmayr, active from around 1950. Primarily a poet, he wrote at least one adult novel, plus several for child and Young Adult audiences. Of the latter, Der Zahlenteufel (1997; trans by Michael Henry Heim as The Number Devil: A Mathematical Adventure 2000) is a fantasy exploration of Mathematics, as taught in dreams to the young protagonist by the friendly titular demon (see Gods and Demons) as a didactic antidote to maths anxiety; Wo warst du, Robert? (1998; trans Anthea Bell as Where Were You, Robert? 2000; vt Lost in Time 2000) is a Time Travel tale whose protagonist falls farther and farther into the past through images on television and movie screens, until he lands in the Netherlands as the Thirty Years' War is beginning. Der Untergang der Titanic (1978; trans author as The Sinking of the Titanic 1980 chap), a narrative poem, translates the sinking of the Titanic into a legend emblematic of the course of Western civilization towards apocalypse.

The shorter pieces assembled in Zickzack: Aufsätze (coll 1997; trans by various hands as Zig Zag: The Politics of Culture and Vice Versa 1997) are representative of Enzensberger's culture studies and sharp-tongued journalism; in the previously unpublished "The Future of a Luxury", he suggests presciently that, following the iron laws of capitalist exploitation, luxury items will not be scarce in the Near Future but that "the elementary necessities of life ... shall come at a great price". [JC]

Hans Magnus Enzensberger

born Kaufbeuren, Germany: 11 November 1929

died Munich, Germany: 24 November 2022

works (highly selected)



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