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Durs Grünbein

Beyond Literature - Oxford Lectures

With 40 images
(German title: Jenseits der Literatur)
ca. 176 pages
Clothbound
2020
Durs Grünbein
Foto: Durs Grünbein
© Tineke de Lange

Durs Grünbein, born in Dresden in 1962, read Theatre Studies in Berlin, after which he worked as a freelancer writing for various literary magazines. After the Berlin Wall fell, Grünbein travelled the world extensively, visiting Europe, Southeast Asia and the United States. Grünbein currently lectures on Poetics at the Düsseldorf Academy of Fine Arts and lives in East Berlin. His debut volume of poetry published in 1988 was entitled Grauzone morgens and he went on to publish nearly twenty poetry collections, including Vom Schnee oder Descartes in Deutschland (2003), Der Misanthrop auf Capri (2005), Porzellan. Poem vom Untergang meiner Stadt (2005) and Zündkerzen (2017). He is also the author of a collection of essays and opera librettos. He translated the tragedies of Aeschylus and Seneca into German, but also the works of contemporary authors such as Sara Kane, Ted Hughes, Wallace Stevens, Samuel Beckett, John Ashbery and Tomas Venclova.

Awards (Selection):

Peter-Huchel-Prize (1995)
Georg-Büchner-Prize (1995)
Friedrich Nietzsche-Prize (2004)
Friedrich-Hölderlin-Prize (2005)
Literary Prize of the City of Berlin (2006)
Premio Internazionale Pier Paolo Pasolini (Rome, 2006)
Samuel Bogumił Linde Prize (together with Adam Zagajewski, 2009)
Tomas-Tränströmer-Prize (2012)
European Poet of Freedom Award (Gdańsk, 2012)
Premio Internazionale di Poesia (Bologna, 2019)
Zbigniew Herbert International Literary Award (2020)

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English world rights (Seagull)

»Every day history drives us, this brutal translation of time into a collective narrative, from within ourselves and confuses our imagination. Even though they may be dreamers, these poets – the only thing they never doubt: That the deeds and the thoughts of their ancestors are going to catch up with them.«

About

In his four Lord Weidenfeld Lectures held in Oxford in 2019, poet Durs Grünbein deals with a topic that has occupied his mind ever since the moment he started to perceive his own position within the history of his nation, his language community and his family as historic: How is it possible that HISTORY, the fetish of the humanities since Hegel and Marx, determines the individual imagination into the private niches, into the ludic drive of poetry? Shouldn’t its poetry look at the world with its own, sovereign eyes instead?

In the form of a collage or »photosynthesis«, in image and text, Grünbein lets the fundamental oppostition between poetic licence and almost overwhelming bondage to history appear in an exemplary way: From the seeming trifle of a stamp with the portrait of Adolf Hitler he moves through the phenomenon of the »Führer’s streets«, the autobahn that is, and into the inferno of aerial warfare. In the end, however, we are faced with an initial experience of powerlessness in writing and the realisation, valid to this day, that come from it: »There is something beyond literature that questions all writing. And there is literature, that intersects history in fictions.«

The renowned Lord Weidenfeld Lectures have been one of the highlights of the academic year at Oxford University since 1993. Invited are distinguished scholars in the humanities, writers and poets. Previous Weidenfeld Visiting Professors of European Comparative Literature include George Steiner, Umberto Eco, Amos Oz and Mario Vargas Llosa.

Other publications

Aus der Traum (Kartei)/From the Dream (Files) (2019)

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France (selection; 17 Muscles)

Zündkerzen/Spark Plugs (2017)

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Italy (selection; Einaudi)

Die Jahre im Zoo/The Years at the Zoo (2015)

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English world rights (Seagull), Sweden (Ersatz)

Vom Stellenwert der Worte/The Vocation of Poetry (2010)

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English world rights (Upper West Side Philosophers)

Die Bars von Atlantis/The Bars of Atlantis (2009)

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English world rights (FSG), Sweden (Ersatz)

Lob des Taifuns/Praise of the Typhoon (2008)

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Previously published in the respective language / territory; rights available again: France (Voix de Plumes)

Der cartesische Taucher/The Cartesian Diver (2008)

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English world rights (Upper West Side Philosophers), Sweden (Ersatz)

Strophen für übermorgen/Verses for the Day after Tomorrow (2007)

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Previously published in the respective language / territory; rights available again: Italy (Einaudi)

Porzellan/Porcelain (2005)

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English world rights (Seagull)

Der Misanthrop auf Capri/The Misanthrope on Capri (2005)

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Previously published in the respective language / territory; rights available again: Poland (Slowo)

Vom Schnee oder Descartes in Deutschland/On Snow or Descartes in Germany (2003)

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France (Greges), Italy (Einaudi), Sweden (Ersatz); previously published in the respective language / territory; rights available again: Greece (Keedros)

Erklärte Nacht/Declared Night (2002)

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Previously published in the respective language / territory; rights available again: Italy (Einaudi), Hungary (Jelenkor)

Das erste Jahr/The First Year (2001)

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Previously published in the respective language / territory; rights available again: Italy (Einaudi)

Nach den Satiren/After the Satires (1999)

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Previously published in the respective language / territory; rights available again: France (Petits Matins), Hungary (Jelenkor)

Den Teuren Toten/The Dear Dead (1994)

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Previously published in the respective language / territory; rights available again: Portuguese rights (Angelus Novus), Norway (Bokvennen), Japan (CHUO University Press)

Grauzone morgens/Grey Area in the Mornings (1988)

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Italy (Einaudi); previously published in the respective language / territory; rights available again: Spanish world rights (Poesia Hidalgo), Hungary (Jelenkor)