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the Complete Review
the complete review - poetry

Erklärte Nacht

Durs Grünbein

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To purchase Erklärte Nacht

Title: Erklärte Nacht
Author: Durs Grünbein
Genre: Poetry
Written: 2002
Length: 145 pages
Original in: German
Availability: Erklärte Nacht - Deutschland
  • Erklärte Nacht has not been translated into English yet

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Our Assessment:

B+ : solid collection, with some very impressive parts

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
Freitag A 22/3/2002 Peter Geist
Neue Zürcher Zeitung . 27/7/2002 Roman Bucheli
Die Welt . 29/6/2002 Alexander von Bormann
World Lit. Today . 4-6/2003 Rita Terras
Die Zeit . (29/2002) Katharina Döbler

  From the Reviews:
  • "Dass die Stimmen in den Gedichten Grünbeins als Plural-Konstrukte am Schnittpunkt von disparater Wahrnehmung, unterschiedlichster Kulturräume und Zeiten konstituiert werden, erleichtert das abrupte Hin- und Herschalten zwischen Nahaufnahme und Totale, Gegenwart und Geschichte." - Peter Geist, Freitag

  • "Mit solcher saloppen Leichtigkeit fliesst hier das Inkommensurable umstandslos in die Sprache, mit der gleichen nonchalanten Eleganz ergiesst sich dann auch das Banale in Verse, die mit ihren gestelzten Inversionen nicht selten leicht manieriert wirken." - Roman Bucheli, Neue Zürcher Zeitung

  • "Viele dieser Gedichte haben schlechte Laune. Man kann das Nörgeln an der Zeit kaum als Kritik auffassen, weil es unbestimmt, weil es vorausbestimmt bleibt, eine barocke Geste: negative Transzendenz." - Alexander von Bormann, Die Welt

  • "Although Grünbein shows that he has a good command of rhyme and rhythm, the meaning of his art is only to be sought in what he has to say, not in any musical quality of his verse. (...) While each of these pieces is authentic after its own fashion, they are so different that it takes real effort to move from piece to piece." - Rita Terras, World Literature Today

  • "So wird die Lektüre zur Aufgabe, die Verknüpfungskompetenz verlangt. Wer sie besitzt, wird belohnt mit dem Vexierbild des Vexierbilds, dem Ergebnis der Verknüpfung des eigenen Wissens und Empfindens mit dem des Dichters. Durs Grünbein ist der talentierte und glückliche Erbe einer langen Tradition: Glücklich deshalb, weil er sie weder als Last noch mit Skepsis betrachtet" - Katharina Döbler, Die Zeit

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       Durs Grünbein doesn't offer a transfigured night (as in "Verklärte Nacht", the Richard Dehmel poem famously transformed by Arnold Schoenberg), but rather an explained night ("Erklärte Nacht"). Transfiguration is almost too obvious, something poetry too easily seems to lose itself in. Explanations are also warranted. Grünbein offers them -- but the proof is in the poems themselves.
       The title poem is the final one in this collection, coda and summa, wondering still what poetry is (and was) -- and finding: "Was bleibt, sind Gedichte" ("What remains, are poems"). This paean is a thoughtful consideration of the art, a convincing expression of the power of poetry -- and displays Grünbein's own impressive talents.
       Erklärte Nacht collects a variety of poems, divided into five sections. Many in the first are coloured by travel-experiences -- sights and scenes, in Italy and Yemen, especially. (Grünbein also describes his adventures in Yemen in his diary-volume, Das erste Jahr (see our review).)
       The second part offers "Drei unzeitgemäße Gedichte" -- three poems that are unfashionable as well as not of these times. In them he looks back at the East German experience: dark, oppressive, frustrating, fearful, and yet still something that can not be entirely forgotten or let go. He allows it to haunt him, more than a decade later, still trying to come to terms with it. "Nostalgischer Krebs" ("Nostalgic Cancer") he calls one of the poems.
       The third part -- "Neue Historien" ("New Historias") -- revisits the classics, returning to the days of Rome and Latin literature, of Greece and Egypt. The poems use those settings and figures from those times, the poet distancing himself from the contemporary world. Grünbein appreciates all the possibilities the times and old approaches offer. Side by side one finds, for example, a "Phantasie über die öffentlichen Latrinen" ("Fantasy about the public latrines") and the weightier "Testament", in which Augustus recommended an end to expansionist warfare -- "Keinen Krieg mehr im Neuland" ("No more war in the new lands") -- but the petty-politic temptations of war prove too great.
       The fourth part is a "Traktat vom Zeitverbleib", a sequence focussed on time, wondering: "Wo aber bleibt sie, die Zeit ?" ("But where does time remain ?"). It is a rare questioning poem -- practically each part wonders, with questions left open. Grünbein's temporal musings stray beyond the immediate questions; together it forms a clever whole.
       The final part offers a broader selection of poems, not thematically oriented. Again Grünbein shows he can do pretty much anything he wants, and do it well.

       Erklärte Nacht is a fine collection by a talented poet. Many pieces astonish simply by how accomplished they are. A broad selection, showing off most of his talents, it serves as a good introduction to the poet. If anything is missing, it is the energy and wildness and sheer abandon found in his earlier collections. Some of the pieces are as good as anything he has done -- and the title-poem is near-perfect -- but one misses some of that vigour found in some of the scrappier earlier collections.
       Still well worthwhile: Grünbein is a major poet, and this is easy proof of his many talents.

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Erklärte Nacht: Reviews: Durs Grünbein: Other books by Durs Grünbein under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Durs Grünbein was born in Dresden in 1962. He has won many literary prizes, including the 1995 Georg Büchner Prize.

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© 2002-2008 the complete review

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