Hans Magnus Enzensberger

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(Literary Essentials: Great Poems of the World)

The eldest of three brothers, Hans Magnus Enzensberger was born in the Bavarian Allgäu and grew up in a middle-class home in Nuremberg. He attended high school from 1942 to 1945, but in 1945, he was inducted into the Volkssturm for militia “cleanup” duty. After the war, he served as an interpreter and bartender for the Royal Air Force, earning his keep as well through the black market. He completed his secondary schooling (the Abitur) in 1949 and spent the next five years studying literature, languages, and philosophy in Erlangen, Freiburg, Hamburg, and Paris. His work on Brentano’s poetry concluded his university studies. He was later employed as a radio editor in Stuttgart and as a visiting professor in Ulm. In 1957, he traveled to the United States and Mexico; in the same year, he published his first book of poems, Verteidigung der Wölfe (defense of the wolves). Returning from Mexico, Enzensberger settled first in Norway. Two years later, a stipend took him to Italy, and later he became a reader for Suhrkamp, the large publishing house in Frankfurt. His second volume of poems, Landessprache (country talk), met with great critical acclaim, as did his anthology of modern poetry, Museum der modernen Poesie (1960; museum of modern poetry). Several awards and distinctions followed. Enzensberger continued to travel, in 1963 to the Soviet Union and in 1965 to South America, spending the year between these journeys in Frankfurt, where he taught as a visiting professor of poetics. In 1965, he moved from Tjörne to West Berlin and founded the journal Kursbuch . In the same year he became a professor of poetry at the University of Frankfurt. He was commissioned by the Goethe...

(The entire section is 420 words.)