Northern Spain is the only part of Western Europe where anarchism played a significant role in political life of the twentieth century. Enjoying wide-ranging support among both the urban and rural working class, its importance peaked during its “brief summer”—the civil war between the Republic and General Franco’s Falangists, during which anarchists even participated in the government of Catalonia.
Anarchy’s Brief Summer brings anarchism to life by focusing on the charismatic leader Buenaventura Durruti (1896–1936), who became a key figure in the Spanish Civil War after a militant and adventurous youth. The basis of the book is a compilation of texts: personal testimony, interviews with survivors, contemporary documents, memoirs, and academic assessments. They are all linked by Enzenberger’s own assessment in a series of glosses—a literary form that is somewhere between retelling and reconstruction—with the contradiction between fiction and fact reflecting the political contradictions of the Spanish Revolution. On the trail of forgotten, half-suppressed struggles, Anarchy’s Brief Summer offers a unique portrait of a revolutionary movement that is largely unknown outside Spain.
The inner workings of the European Union are as much a mystery to those living within its confines as they are to those of us who reside elsewhere. The Brussels bureaucracy that sets many of the EU’s policies feels remote to its citizens, yet the influence of its decisions can extend worldwide and throughout the global marketplace.
In this timely and insightful essay, Hans Magnus Enzensberger blends reportage, argument, and analysis in order to make sense of the EU’s present political and economic roles and examine the EU’s origins and inherent contradictions. In Enzensberger’s view, Europe is involved in a project without precedent—the first non-violent form of post-democratic governance, which is trying to abolish the diversity of Europe and impose a regime that is not accountable to its citizens. Its often bizarre and arbitrary rules amount to a soft but relentless guardianship, dictating how half a billion people should live their lives regardless of their own political opinions and traditions. Enzensberger here offers a strategy for approaching this modern monster—at once gentle and giant, friend and foe.
Praise for Enzensberger
“How should one cope with Germany? Let’s ask Hans Magnus Enzensberger. . . . One can only marvel at his permanent alertness, his tone of cold enragement, the dimensions of his hunger for experience, most of all however, one can only marvel at his sense of important issues. For 50 years, time and again Enzensberger has posed the right questions to German society. . . . No one should ever believe Enzensberger is on his side. Whenever someone makes a clear distinction between Good and Evil, Enzensberger will jump out of his cover and shout: It’s not that simple.”—Florian Illies, Die Zeit
The Federmanns live a pleasant but painfully normal life in the Munich suburbs. All that the three children really know about money is that there’s never enough of it in their family.
Every so often, their impish Great-Aunt Fé descends on the city. After repeated cycles of boom and bust, profligacy and poverty, the grand old lady has become enormously wealthy and lives alone in a villa on the shore of Lake Geneva. But what does Great-Aunt Fé want from the Federmanns, her only surviving relatives? This time, she invites the children to tea at her luxury hotel where she spoils, flummoxes, and inspires them. Dismayed at their ignorance of the financial ways of the world, she gives them a crash course in economics that piques their curiosity, unsettles their parents, and throws open a whole new world. The young Federmanns are for once taken seriously and together they try to answer burning questions: Where does money come from? Why are millionaires and billionaires never satisfied? And why are those with the most always showered with more?
In this rich volume, the renowned poet, translator, and essayist Hans Magnus Enzensberger turns his gimlet eye on the mechanisms and machinations of banks and politicians—the human greed, envy, and fear that fuels the global economy. A modern, but moral-less fable, Money, Money, Money! is shot through with Enzensberger’s trademark erudition, wit, and humanist desire to cut through jargon and forearm his readers against obscurantism.
Any new book by poet, essayist, writer, and translator Hans Magnus Enzensberger, one of the most influential and internationally renowned German intellectuals, is cause for notice, and Mr. Zed’s Reflections is no exception. Every afternoon for almost a year, a plump man named Mr. Zed comes to the same spot in the city park and engages passersby with quick-witted repartee. Those who pass ask, who is this man? A wisecracker, a clown, a belligerent philosopher? Many shake their heads and move on; others listen to him, engage with him, and, again and again, end up at the same place. He doesn’t write anything down, but his listeners often take notes. With subversive energy and masterful brevity, Mr. Zed undermines arrogance, megalomania, and false authority. A determined speaker who doesn’t care for ambitions, he forces topics that others would rather keep to themselves. Reluctant to trust institutions and seeing absolutely nothing as “non-negotiable,” he admits mistakes and does away with judgment. He is no mere ventriloquist dummy for his creator—he is too stubborn for that. And at the end of the season, when it becomes too cold and uncomfortable in the park, he disappears, never to be seen again.
Collected in this thought-provoking and unique work are the considerations and provocations of this squat, park-bench philosopher, giving us a volume of truths and conversations that are clear-cut, skeptical, and fiercely illuminating.
Hans Magnus Enzensberger Seagull Books, 2018 Library of Congress PT2609.N9E5913 2018
Hans Magnus Enzensberger takes the title for this collection of daring short essays on topical themes—politics, economics, religion, society—not from Jeremy Bentham’s famous prison but from a mid-1930s Cabinet of Curiosities opened in Germany by Karl Valentin. “There,” writes Enzensberger, “viewers could admire, along with implements of torture, all manner of abnormalities and sensational inventions.” And that’s what he offers here: a wide-ranging, surprising look at all manner of strange aspects of our contemporary world.
As masterly with the essay as he is with fiction and poetry, Enzensberger here presents complicated thoughts with a light touch, tying new iterations of old ideas to their antecedents, quoting liberally from his forebears, and presenting himself unapologetically as not an expert but a seeker. Enzensberger the essayist works in the mode of Montaigne, unafraid to take his reader in unexpected directions, knowing that the process of exploration is often in itself sufficient reward for following a line of thought.
In an era that regularly laments the death of the public intellectual, Enzensberger is the real deal: a towering figure in German literature who refuses to let his mind or work be bound by the narrow world of the poetry or fiction section. Panopticon will thrill readers daring enough to accompany him.
One of the most innovative and respected figures of his literary generation in Europe, Hans Magnus Enzensberger (1929- ) has also become a major presence in international debates about literature and social change. The first English-language study of this influential literary figure, Poetic Maneuvers considers Enzensberger's poetical texts as part of a larger project to create a venue for intellectual reflection.
From the first, Enzensberger resisted the marginalization of literature--particularly poetry--by connecting it with ethical imperatives of the post-Holocaust era. Charlotte Ann Melin shows how Enzensberger has accomplished this by challenging prevailing aesthetic and social values. Departing from existing studies that focus on Enzensberger's political views or controversial texts, her book situates his full poetic program within contemporary discussions staged by various German writers, translators, and theorists, including Jürgen Habermas and Theodor Adorno. Melin proposes a framework for reading poetry by Enzensberger and his contemporaries--one that connects the radical evolution of poetic style with how questions about representation, identity, and ethical values developed under historical conditions unique to the second half of the twentieth century. Her account of postwar literary trends explores the fluidity of national literary boundaries and tastes after 1945, and reveals the relationship of such American poets as William Carlos Williams and Carolyn Forché to German verse. Essential to an understanding Enzensberger as an important literary figure, Poetic Maneuvers also offers invaluable insight into the status of recent postwar German literature and American-European literary relations.
The Silences of Hammerstein, the latest work from one of Germany’s most significant contemporary authors, engages readers with a blend of a documentary, collage, narration, and fictional interviews. The gripping plot revolves around the experiences of real-life German General Kurt von Hammerstein and his wife and children. A member of an old military family, a brilliant staff officer, and the last commander of the German army before Hitler seized power, Hammerstein, who died in 1943 before Hitler’s defeat, was nevertheless an idiosyncratic character. Too old to be a resister, he retained an independence of mind that was shared by his children: three of his daughters joined the Communist Party, and two of his sons risked their lives in the July 1944 Plot against Hitler and were subsequently on the run till the end of the war. Hammerstein never criticized his children for their activities, and he maintained contacts with the Communists himself and foresaw the disastrous end of Hitler’s dictatorship.
In The Silences of Hammerstein, Hans Magnus Enzensberger offers a brilliant and unorthodox account of the military milieu whose acquiescence to Nazism consolidated Hitler’s power and of the heroic few who refused to share in the spoils.
Hans Magnus Enzensberger Seagull Books, 2016 Library of Congress PT2609.N9Z46 2014
Hans Magnus Enzensberger, widely regarded as Germany’s greatest living poet, was already well known in the 1960s, the tempestuous decade of which Tumult is an autobiographical record. Derived from old papers, notes, jottings, photos, and letters that the poet stumbled upon years later in his attic, the volume is not so much about the man, but rather the many places he visited and people whom he met on his travels through the Soviet Union and Cuba during the 1960s.
The book is made up of four longform pieces written from 1963 to 1970, each episode concluding with a poem and postscript written in 2014. Tumult is based on Enzensberger’s personal experience as a left-wing sympathizer during that tumultuous decade and focuses on political events and their participants. Translated by Mike Mitchell, the book is a lively and deftly written travelogue offering a glimpse into the history of leftist thought. Dedicated to “those who disappeared,” Tumult is a document of that which remains one of humanity’s headiest times.
“Enzensberger is the most important postwar writer you have never read.”—London Review of Books