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the Complete Review
the complete review - interviews


Zu große Fragen

Hans Magnus Enzensberger

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To purchase Zu große Fragen

Title: Zu große Fragen
Author: Hans Magnus Enzensberger
Genre: Interviews
Written: (2007)
Length: 345 pages
Original in: German
Availability: Zu große Fragen - Deutschland
  • Gespräche und Interviews 2005-1970
  • Zu große Fragen has not been translated into English

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Our Assessment:

B : interesting mix of subjects and opinions

See our review for fuller assessment.

The complete review's Review:

       Zu große Fragen collects 23 interviews from the period 2005 to 1970 -- all, save the introductory first piece (an imagined dialogue, much like those found in Enzensberger's Dialoge zwischen Unsterblichen, Lebendigen und Toten), in reverse chronological order, making for an interesting sort of regression -- especially as Enzensberger acknowledges the occasional misguided statement or belief in some of the interviews -- statements and beliefs that then crop up in later pages (but earlier interviews ....). In most of the pieces Enzensberger is the interview-subject, but in several he is more conversation partner -- with Alfred Andersch and Hubert Marcuse, among others.
        Enzensberger doesn't take himself too seriously, but there certainly is a feel of greater deference in the later interviews -- and among the appealing things about the reverse chronological order is how that feel is at least in part peeled away as one moves back in time. There's also a nice mix of interviews: some are largely political, some focus on his poetry, some offer broader overviews of his various writing and publishing ventures. (As Brita Steinwendtner notes, Enzensberger's literary output shows "eine ganz stupende Vielfalt" ('a phenomenal variety').) André Müller's fairly comprehensive 1995 interview (for Die Zeit) reads like they rubbed each other the wrong way, which also makes for a nice change of tone.
       From his esteem for Diderot and his work (like Kundera, he's a great Jacques the Fatalist-fan) to Uwe Johnson's criticism (in Anniversaries) of Enzensberger's infamous 1968 open letter in The New York Review of Books, explaining why he was turning down his cushy appointment at Wesleyan and heading to Cuba instead, Enzensberger covers much of the material fans would hope for. There's also not too much repetition or overlap -- another sign of how many and varied his interests are -- and many revealing personal touches. Among the most amusing: his irritation about the title Marcuse chose for one of his famous books: as the mathematically-inclined Enzensberger points out, a one-dimensional man would be a mere point, which surely isn't what Marcuse meant ..... (Among the few things which there isn't enough about in these near-two-dozen pieces is Enzensberger's maths-passion.)
       Zu große Fragen offers a good, broad selection of Enzensberger's opinions and information about what he's done and written. The (for the most part) casual conversational presentation makes this a good overview-volume, welcome background that gives a better feel for the man behind the words. All in all there's not enough depth to the collection (the drawback of the casual interview), but he's a good interview-subject (and writes a mean fictional dialogue, as is demonstrated far more amply in Dialoge zwischen Unsterblichen, Lebendigen und Toten), and this collection is certainly of interest to anyone who wants to know more about the man.

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Reviews: Hans Magnus Enzensberger: Other books by Hans Magnus Enzensberger under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       German author Hans Magnus Enzensberger was born in 1929. He is best-known as a poet and essayist.

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© 2007-2016 the complete review

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