OVERRIDE

The Bars of Atlantis

Selected Essays

Durs Grünbein; Edited by Michael Eskin; Translated from the German by John Crutchfield, Michael Hofmann, and Andrew Shields

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

This landmark collection of essays by one of the world’s greatest living authors makes Durs Grünbein’s wide-ranging and multifaceted prose available in English for the first time, and is a welcome complement to Ashes for Breakfast, his first book-length collection of poetry in English.

Covering two decades, The Bars of Atlantis unfurls the entire breadth and depth of Grünbein’s essayistic genius. Memoiristic and autobiographical pieces that introduce Grünbein, the man and the author, and tell the story of the making of a poet and thinker toward the end of a century marked by global political strife, unprecedented human suffering, long decades of totalitarian rule, and, in its final quarter, the dawn of a new, post–Cold War world order; essays that focus on Grünbein’s major philosophical and aesthetic concerns, such as the intersection of art and science, literature and biology; extended reflections on the existential, cultural, political, and ethical import of the poet’s craft in the contemporary world; and, finally, explorations of the meaning of classical antiquity for the present—all contribute to making.


BOOK EXCERPTS

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I
BRIEF REPORT TO AN ACADEMY
How do you introduce someone you know only in passing? It has never made sense to me why this person should be familiar to me just because I kept running into him. All I can tell you is that I was born on October 9, 1962, in Dresden, where I grew up as the only child of youthful parents.
My father and mother were twenty-two when I appeared on the scene one afternoon with the usual caterwauling. Like everyone else, I was traumatized by birth. Decades later I came across a poem by the French poet Pierre Jean Jouve that brought the shock to mind:
I saw a puddle
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REVIEWS

Praise for The Bars of Atlantis

Praise for The Bars of Atlantis

“American readers who’d like not to be caught off guard the next time the Nobel goes out to the German-speaking world (Elfriede who? Herta what?) may do well to acquaint themselves with the work of Durs Grünbein. I can think of nowhere better to start than The Bars of Atlantis, a book of essays every bit as vibrant, witty, erudite, and awe-inspiring as Grünbein’s incomparable poetry.” —Jeffrey Eugenides

 

Praise for Ashes for Breakfast

“What was it in Grünbein that so seized my attention? It was the sardonic humor, the savagery, the violent candor–all expressed in lines of cool formal elegance. In Grünbein’s pages, uncontrollable feeling encounters the at first invisible control of an expert technique, creating that exciting ‘deadlock’ of equally strong matter and manner that Robert Frost in his Notebooks found essential to poetry.” —Helen Vendler, The New Republic

Ashes for Breakfast is a brilliantly layered book . . . Grünbein’s poems read as if the forces of history pressing in on the present drove them into this world.” —Melanie Rehak, The New York Times Book Review

“Durs Grünbein is one of the most intelligent poets writing in German today. His subject is nothing less than ‘this life, so useless, so rich.’ It is wonderful to have his selected poems in Michael Hofmann’s note-perfect translation.” —John Ashbery

“Durs Grünbein is a highly original poet, an heir to the riches of German and European Modernism. What’s striking in this poetry is a hard, almost cynical tone which turns out to be just a lid on a jar containing many substances.” —Adam Zagajewski

“Grünbein is a vital new voice in the world of poetry . . . Like Joseph Brodsky, to whom he is often compared, he is a serious and focused poet whose work has a depth that deserves our attention.” —David Hellman, San Francisco Chronicle

Reviews from Goodreads

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Durs Grünbein; Edited by Michael Eskin; Translated from the German by John Crutchfield, Michael Hofmann, and Andrew Shields

  • Durs Grünbein is the author of twelve volumes of poetry and four collections of essays. His work has been awarded many major German literary prizes, including the highest, the Georg Büchner Prize, which he won at age thirty-three. He has lived in Berlin since 1985.

  • Durs Grünbein © Renate Brandt
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Available Formats and Book Details

The Bars of Atlantis

Selected Essays

Durs Grünbein; Edited by Michael Eskin; Translated from the German by John Crutchfield, Michael Hofmann, and Andrew Shields

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