About the death of a writer – how Hans Magnus Enzensberger read his poems


His fax machine was loud. In recent decades, Hans Magnus Enzensberger could only be contacted by fax. He wrote about 100 volumes of prose works, dramas, essays and poetry, invented magazines (“Coursebook”, “Transatlantic”) and book series (“The Other Library”), received many prizes. Along with Alexander Kluge and Jürgen Habermas, Enzensberger was one of the most influential intellectuals in the old Federal Republic, whose history he shaped through his wealth of ideas and intellectual versatility. He died on November 24 at the age of 93 in his hometown of Munich.

“Don’t read skins my son, read schedules”

Enzensberger always looked decisively to the present – and changed with it. He left the traditional high tone of National Socialism already with his debut, the book of poems “The Defense of Wolves”, which earned him the reputation of an “angry young man”. in 1962 in the volumes of essays “Details”, he analyzed not odes and verses, but Neckermann’s catalog, “Spiegel” and other phenomena of consumer and media society. in 1963 The Büchner Prize winner was one of the leading voices in the influential writers’ association Gruppe 47, writing regularly for media outlets such as FAZ and Spiegel between 1965 and 1975. published the “Book of Courses” and also found time to write books of all works of art, publish and visit first the USA, then the Cuban Revolution.

In the 1980s, Enzensberger published the magazine “Transatlantik”, and later the book series “The Other Library” invented together with the book designer Franz Greno. Their motto “We only print books we want to read ourselves” captured the hedonistic spirit of the time, just as Enzensberger often seemed friendly with old-timers: he was a media critic and (print) media star, consumer critic and producer. intellectual goods, keywords of the Non-Parliamentary Opposition and their critics, etc.

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Phenomenal flair

HME was often called a “chameleon”, “jack of all trades” and “blowball”, and despite all the criticism, admiration could be found in the names too. Because Enzensberger’s flexibility surprised and irritated some stalwarts—not infrequently he was simply ahead of his time and contemporaries—his sense of themes, issues, and contradictions proved phenomenal. There is no successor.

In 1994, the then 54-year-old Hans Magnus Enzensberger read unpublished poems in a strong, sometimes cheerful voice at the Wissenschaftskolleg in Berlin. in 1995 it was published by Suhrkamp Verlag under the title Kiosks.

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