A History of Clouds
Hans Magnus Enzensberger
Translated by Martin Chalmers, Esther Kinsky
5 x 8.5 inches, 164pp. June 2010
ISBN : 9781906497453
Rs 325.00 (HB)
In these 99 meditations, poet and novelist Hans Magnus Enzensberger celebrates the tenacity of the normal and routine in everyday life, where the survival of the objects we use without thinking—a pair of scissors, perhaps—is both a small, human victory and a quiet reminder of our own ephemeral nature. He sets his quotidian reflections against a broad historic and political backdrop—the cold war and its accompanying atomic threat, the German student revolt, would-be socialism in Cuba, China, and Africa, and World War II as experienced by the youthful poet.
Enzensberger’s poems are conversational, skeptical, and serene; they culminate in the extended set of observations which gives the collection its title. Clouds, alien and yet symbols of human life, are for Enzensberger at once a central metaphor of the Western poetic tradition and “the most fleeting of all masterpieces.” “Cloud archaeology,” writes Enzensberger, is “a science for angels.”
“After reading this wonderful volume of poetry one would like to call Enzensberger simply the lyric voice of transience.”—Sueddeutsche Zeitung
“With this book Enzensberger reveals himself both as a spokesman of persistence and as a decelerator.”—Neue Zuercher Zeitung
Hans Magnus Enzensberger, often considered Germany’s most important living poet, is also the editor of the book series Die Andere Bibliothek and the founder of the monthly TransAtlantik. His books include Lighter Than Air: Moral Poems and Civil Wars: From L.A. to Bosnia.
Martin Chalmers is a translator and editor. He grew up in Glasgow, Scotland. His translations include works by Hans Magnus Enzensberger, Hubert Fichte, Ernst Weiss, Herta Mueller, Alexander Kluge, Emine Sevgi Oezdamar and Erich Hackl. At present Chalmers lives in Berlin.
Esther Kinsky is a literary translator and the author of the novel Sommerfrische. She has translated poetry by Angelus Silesius, Else Lasker-Schueler, and Wolf Wondratschek, among others.