As well as being Germany's most important poet, Hans Magnus Enzensberger is a provocative cultural essayist and one of Europe's leading political thinkers. No British poet can match him in his range of interests and his moral passion.
Born in 1929 in Bavaria, he grew up in Nazi Nuremberg. His poetry's social and moral criticism of the post-war world owes much to Marxism, yet insists on the freedoms which often denied by Communist governments: like Orwell he maintains that satire and criticism should not be party-political.
In 1994 he published his Selected Poems with Bloodaxe and his essays on new world disorder, Civil War, with Granta. In Kiosk, his subsequent collection, he draws on his wide knowledge of the scientific and technical developments of the last half-century, yet comes out on the other side of extreme scepticism ñ on the side of poetry and poetry's "negative capability", a kind of unknowing. Though never a confessional poet, he has won through to the freedom to draw on intimate experience too. However disillusioned now about public issues, he remains a poet of defiance, as intelligent, compassionate and trenchant as ever. Kiosk was followed in 2002 by Lighter than Air.
"Hans Magnus Enzensberger is a poet of formidable intelligence and range. Like Brecht before him, he combines an intense political imagination with lyric gusto. The reader discovers in him both a satirist and a friend."
"A voice of ferocious urbanity, laying bare the horrors of the modern German state and resignedly picking out stark cameos of the human condition."
Peter Forbes, Financial Times
Translated by Michael Hamburger.