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the Complete Review
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Warum schriftlos leben

Durs Grünbein

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To purchase Warum schriftlos leben

Title: Warum schriftlos leben
Author: Durs Grünbein
Genre: Essays
Written: (2003)
Length: 117 pages
Original in: German
Availability: Warum schriftlos leben - Deutschland
  • Warum schriftlos leben has not yet been translated into English

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Our Assessment:

B : fine incidental pieces

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
Neue Zürcher Zeitung A 26/6/2003 Michael Braun

  From the Reviews:
  • "Grünbeins Essays leben, ähnlich wie die Lyrik, die dem Autor früh Erfolg und Ruhm einbrachte, von der Genauigkeit der Wahrnehmung, von der Macht der Evokation und der Suggestion. Im Idealfall entstehen gedankliche Verdichtungen, die den Vergleich mit den Gedichten nicht zu scheuen brauchen. Warum schriftlos leben ist eine subtile Verteidigung der Poesie und zugleich eine Liebeserklärung an die Sprache, deren "isolierte Klugheit" den Dichter auf "schönste Abwege" bringt." - Michael Braun, Neue Zürcher Zeitung

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:

       Warum schriftlos leben is a small collection of nine pieces, written for a variety of occasions and publications. A number of them are public addresses
       The first is Grünbein's acceptance sppech when elected to the Deutsch Akademie für Sprache und Dichtung (the illustrious German Academy), which offers a brief autobiographical introduction to the poet. Though lighthearted in tone, and barely more than a sketch, Grünbein nevertheless easily conveys a good deal of his background, using a few experiences to show the coming-into-being of this particular poet.
       Life as a poet is also explored, as in the longer title-piece. Using as a starting point the three questions he maintains poets are inevitably asked (can you live off of it ? since when have you been writing ? why do you write ?), Grünbein offers a good overview of the poetic life -- and he nicely turns the last question around, asking back: why live without writing ? Poetry (and writing) isn't the end-all that must be venerated above all else -- Grünbein understands that it is often a marginal activity -- but he offers a sound explanation of his own (pre-)occupation with it, and the power that it holds.
       Other pieces also consider other art forms -- music as well as architecture, for example -- while smaller pieces include a brief commentary on a bit from Adorno's Minima Moralia, an encyclopaedia entry on the literary quote, some musings on world literature (especially in its earlier manifestations), and on antiquity.
       In almost all the pieces Grünbein weaves together history, theory, and anecdote. His writing -- precise and dense but not stultifying, sprightly, lyrical, thoughtful but not taking anything entirely too seriously -- easily holds interest from one piece to the next. These are fairly incidental pieces, and the tone -- as many were written to be read before an audience -- is a bit more jocular than might sometimes be warranted, but they're certainly interesting and entertaining enough.

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Warum schriftlos leben: 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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© 2003-2008 the complete review

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