A collection of poems and essays by the admired German poet Gottfried Benn, who, because of his brief association with Nazism, has been absent from our mainstream, non-specialized, English-language view of modern German poetry.
Refreshingly, playwright Marianna Salzmann manages to be political without being didactic. Her characters live (rather than preach) through history, grappling with the transition from totalitarianism to democracy.
Though its central events are in the past, conveyed by characters by means of often ambiguous shreds of memory and musing, “In Times of Fading Light” is a work of quiet power and beauty, dense with sorrow, telling detail, and suspense.
In his prose and poetry, Swiss writer Robert Walser revolts from the chaos of modernity, engaging in extreme subjectivity only to confess to the heresy that is the self, choosing to revel in the simplicity of the rural life. Not for truth, but for the sake of a fleeting rapture.
As the year nears its end, time is running out to write at length about some of the new books that gave me pleasure. Thus this quick list of favorites. As usual, my taste runs to prose that’s off-the-beaten-path.
Thought to be lost, the only existing print of NATHAN THE WISE was discovered in Moscow in 1996. The Coolidge Corner Theater is screening a tinted and beautifully restored version of the film, with an original score by Aaron Trant performed live by the After Quartet.