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the Complete Review
the complete review - poetry


Auf die schönen Possen

Volker Braun

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To purchase Auf die schönen Possen

Title: Auf die schönen Possen
Author: Volker Braun
Genre: Poetry
Written: 2005
Length: 97 pages
Original in: German
Availability: Auf die schönen Possen - Deutschland
  • Auf die schönen Possen has not yet been translated into English

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Our Assessment:

B+ : solid, timely collection

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
NZZ . 15/4/2006 Angelika Overath
Rheinischer Merkur A+ 18/8/2005 Michaela Schmitz
Die Welt B- 23/7/2005 Uwe Wittstock
Die Zeit . 2/6/2005 Stephan Speicher

  From the Reviews:
  • "Mit Auf die schönen Possen schaut er gelassen-melancholisch zurück auf ein Dichterleben in zwei deutschen Staaten, sich fragend, was denn blieb von all dem Aufruhr dieser Jahre und was bleiben wird für eine Zukunft nach dem 11. September." - Angelika Overath, Neue Zürcher Zeitung

  • "Volker Braun diagnostiziert in seinen Gedichten aber nicht den Zwiespalt von Ideal und Wirklichkeit. Sondern er zeigt nach Büchners Vorbild die Risse, die durch die Wirklichkeit selbst gehen. Und sucht nach einer doppelten Lösung: der Mensch und die Gesellschaft. (...) Volker Brauns Gedichte sind politisch, weil sie privat sind. In diesem Sinne sind sie radikal." - Michaela Schmitz, Rheinischer Merkur

  • "(S)ein persönlichstes, intimstes Buch seit langem. (...) Natürlich, seine Gedichte sind nach wie vor konzentriert und klug, aber seine Sprache wirkt gleichsam verkantet und verschraubt." - Uwe Wittstock, Die Welt

  • "Es ist ein tastender, bröckelnder Ton, in dem hier gesprochen wird. Vor Missgriffen ist Braun durch seinen eminenten Kunstverstand geschützt und vor Wiederholungen auch; er hat nicht einfach seine bewährten Ansichten erneut in die Auslage gestellt. Doch der zwingende Vers, der, einmal gelesen, sich nicht mehr vergisst, ist zur Ausnahme geworden." - Stephan Speicher, 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:

       Auf die schönen Possen is a collection by an aging poet, the voice still powerful (and angry), but mortality and physical frailty (weakening eyes, for example) making for occasionally more melancholy contemplation.
       Braun at the deathbed of the great East German writer Karl Mickel, Hiroshima, fifty-seven years after the fact, the flooding of Dresden in 2002: catastrophe and disaster crop up repeatedly. Decline and fall are prominent, but the central loss is still that of the German Democratic Republic, the failed socialist experiment which was replaced by a system that has clearly not yet -- so Braun -- proven itself.
       Braun is no angry young man: angry, yes, but so much more convincing and effective for not shouting at the reader, but rather writing completely controlled (with the very occasional sharp outburst when he can't hold it in any longer). It takes a poet who has been through a lot to conclude a poem: -- about Marcus Aurelius --:

Rom geht unter und die Ruhe bleibt.

(Rome goes under and the calm remains.)
       This is a book filled with variations on failure -- of a century, of countries and ideologies, of physical failure. Even a cancelled reading is the subject of a riff. The title of the collection refers to a Philip Sidney poem (Splendidis longum valedico Nugis), and the beginning of that poem reflect Braun's resignation and remaining ambition: "Leave me, o Love, which reaches but to dust, / And thou, my mind, aspire to higher things !" A critical idealist, Braun has always been aspiring; in older age a touch of resignation seems to have crept in.
       What anger there is -- and his wicked humour -- prevent the collection from being particularly downbeat: there's still that twinkle in his eye (cataracts and all) that comes across.
       Auf die schönen Possen is a fairly typical Braun-collection, perhaps more varied (almost haphazard) than most, but certainly worth a look.

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Auf die schönen Possen: Reviews: Volker Braun: Other books by Volker Braun under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       (East) German poet and dramatist Volker Braun was born in 1939. He has won numerous literary prizes, including the Heinrich Mann Prize, and the Georg Büchner Prize.

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© 2005-2015 the complete review

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