Günter Eich Diether H. Haenicke - Essay

Diether H. Haenicke

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[Günter Eich] wrote the famous poem "Inventory" which became the classical example of Kahlschlag literature. He made his debut in literature before the war with rather conventional poems in praise of nature. The experience of the war changed the poet's timbre. His Ausgewählte Gedichte (Collected Poems, 1960) reveal a continuing closeness to nature, but also show his attempt to look beneath the obscuring surface of things and find their true reality. His poetic language intends to make these hidden realities visible. "The essential language appears to me to be the one in which the word itself and the object it names are in congruence," says Eich, "we have to translate from this language which is all around us but at the same time nonexistent. We are translating without having the original text." Eich is also considered the main representative of the radio play in Germany. This new genre became extremely popular after the war when television was not as prolific as in today's Germany. Eich collected his radio plays in the volumes Träume (Dreams, 1953) and Stimmen (Voices, 1958). The protagonists in his plays usually enter a situation endangering their existence and in this crisis find the truth about themselves. (pp. 395-96)

Diether H. Haenicke, "Literature since 1933," in The Challenge of German Literature, edited by Horst S. Daemmrich and Diether H. Haenicke (reprinted by permission of the Wayne State University Press; © 1971 by the Wayne State University Press), Wayne State University Press, 1971, pp. 350-404.∗