Eloquent writer: writer Hans Magnus Enzensberger is dead

Hans Magnus Enzensberger is one of the most important German intellectuals of the post-war period. His works are available in more than 40 languages. The poet, essayist, biographer and editor has now passed away at the age of 93.

The writer Hans Magnus Enzensberger is dead. He died on Thursday in Munich at the age of 93, as the Suhrkamp publishing house in Berlin announced, citing the family. Along with Günter Grass, Martin Walser, Uwe Johnson and Heinrich Böll, the poet is one of the most influential authors of post-war German literature.

Enzensberger was born on November 11, 1929 in Kaufbeuren in the Allgäu. After the end of the Second World War, he ran a black market, interpreted for the US and British occupiers and finally graduated from high school in Nördlingen in 1949.

“I’d rather write”

He was disillusioned with his homeland. He felt that Germany, divided into four, was a “moral desert”. It was “not a promising job to be German,” he recalled, and in his “Defense of an Agnostic” he noted, “I’d rather write.” The downside: A feeling that he “doesn’t really belong anywhere”. The former “wild youngster” of post-war literature was involved nonetheless, in the legendary literature club of the Federal Republic of Germany “Group 47” or with the rebellious 1968ers.

One of his memoirs with the meaningful title “Tumult” also provides information about his time in the then extra-parliamentary opposition (APO) against the grand coalition in Bonn in the 1960s. During this time he also founded the culture magazine “Course Book” in 1965, a leading medium of the intellectual left and the student movement.

In 1967, Commune I, which also included his brother Ulrich, briefly moved into his apartment in Berlin. They were eventful years in which Enzensberger tried many things. He was a publisher’s editor at Suhrkamp in Frankfurt, spent some time in socialist Cuba, lived in Norway, Italy, Mexico, the USA and West Berlin and finally came to Munich in 1979.

Not all works appeared under his name

And Enzensberger wrote and wrote, novels, essays, anecdotes and memories and dramas, such as “The Titanic”, staged in 1980 by George Tabori. With “The Number Devil” he wanted to bring mathematics closer to children. And he dedicated books like “Always the Money: A Small Business Novel” or “Poetry is Annoying” to young people.

And of course his poems and ballads. Already with his first volume of poetry “Defence of the Wolves” from 1957 he caused a sensation. Not everything appeared under his name. He also published works as Andreas Thalmayr, for example under the tongue-in-cheek pseudonym Serenus M. Brezengang, which consists of the letters of his real name.

Enzensberger did not like to be in public. “Laurel trees, talk shows, giving interviews – I don’t like all that,” he told the “Süddeutsche Zeitung Magazin” on his 70th birthday. “I don’t have that naive vanity that you need to feel comfortable on a stage.” He much prefers it when people open his books. And they did, also abroad. His works have been translated into more than 40 languages.

Leave a Comment