Book One of Our Trakl (The German List)
Seagull Books, 9780857422460, 120pp.
Publication Date: May 15, 2015
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The work of poet Georg Trakl, a leading Austrian-German expressionist, has been praised by many, including his contemporaries Rainer Maria Rilke and Else Lasker-Schüler, as well as his patron Ludwig Wittgenstein. Wittgenstein famously wrote that while he did not truly understand Trakl’s poems, they had the tone of a “truly ingenious person,” which pleased him. This difficulty in understanding Trakl’s poems is not unique. Since the first publication of his work in 1913, there has been endless discussion about how the verses should be understood, leading to controversies over the most accurate way to translate them.
This new translation, the first book in a three-volume collection of Trakl's work, marks the hundredth anniversary of Trakl’s death during the first months of World War I. In a refreshing contrast to previous translated collections of Trakl’s work, James Reidel is mindful of how the poet himself wished to be read, emphasizing the order and content of the verses to achieve a musical effect. Trakl’s verses were also marked by allegiance to both the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, a fact which Reidel honors with impressive research into the historicity of the poet’s language.
Poems sets itself apart as the best translation of Trakl available today and will introduce English readers to the powerful verses of this wartime poet.
About the Author
Georg Trakl (1887–1914) was an Austrian-German expressionist poet.
James Reidel is a poet, biographer and translator who has also translated the works by Thomas Bernhard, Georg Trakl, and Franz Werfel.
Praise For Poems: Book One of Our Trakl (The German List)…
“Trakl died in 1913 of a cocaine overdose after an extended bout of depression triggered by serving as a medical officer at the beginning of World War I, and this republication of his first book of poems captures that misery in excruciating detail.”
“The work, as wartime as it is pastoral grimace, disturbs and plunders and rattles. . . . These translations are full of devout study and inference, and our translator has stepped into the shoes of a tormented, beautiful poet with challenging, often chaotic scenes and sequences, and has channeled the original spirit and merit of Trakl’s era. The lines flutter and echo faithfully the original German, which I have had the bleak pleasure of reading in the past. The work is bountiful and wholesome; these translations feel refreshing and chiseled, a consistent, contemporary arousal of Trakl’s first book.”