One of the most innovative and respected figures of his literary generation in Europe, Hans Magnus Enzensberger (1929- ) has also become a major presence in international debates about literature and social change. The first English-language study of this influential literary figure, Poetic Maneuvers considers Enzensberger's poetical texts as part of a larger project to create a venue for intellectual reflection.
From the first, Enzensberger resisted the marginalization of literature-particularly poetry-by connecting it with ethical imperatives of the post-Holocaust era. Charlotte Ann Melin shows how Enzensberger has accomplished this by challenging prevailing aesthetic and social values. Departing from existing studies that focus on Enzensberger's political views or controversial texts, her book situates his full poetic program within contemporary discussions staged by various German writers, translators, and theorists, including Jürgen Habermas and Theodor Adorno. Melin proposes a framework for reading poetry by Enzensberger and his contemporaries--one that connects the radical evolution of poetic style with how questions about representation, identity, and ethical values developed under historical conditions unique to the second half of the twentieth century. Her account of postwar literary trends explores the fluidity of national literary boundaries and tastes after 1945, and reveals the relationship of such American poets as William Carlos Williams and Carolyn Forché to German verse. Essential to an understanding Enzensberger as an important literary figure, Poetic Maneuvers also offers invaluable insight into the status of recent postwar German literature and American-European literary relations.