Christian Morgenstern's Galgenlieder : A selection ; Translated, with an introduction by Max Knight
Berkeley, Ca. : University of California Press, 1964. Second Printing. Stated. Hardcover. 225 pages ; 22 cm. $4.00 dust jacket with a few minor rips along the jacket top and bottom edge. Pages are clean and unmarked. Binding is firm.
Translated and with an Introduction
by MAX KNIGHT
This is the first large selection of the delightful, grotesque verse of Christian Morgenstern (1871-1914) in English. Although his parodies, punning, and satiric truculence succeeded in creating an Alice-in-Wonderland climate which endeared him to millions in German-speaking countries, Morgenstern remains almost unknown in the United States. "Morgens tern's international reputation is severely handicapped by the fact that many of his best works are practically untranslatable," says a modern encyclopedia of literature. Still, the attempt is made here, and the whimsical poet is introduced to a larger audience.
Morgenstern also wrote serious poetry and is often bracketed with Rilke, Dehmel, and Hofmannsthal. But his fame rests primarily on the subtle humor of his "gallows songs" (Galgenlieder) which, in a capricious mood, he created in his twenties. The poems, not originally meant for publication, became an immediate success, were used in literary cabarets, set to music, and illustrated by Paul Klee. Today some of these fanciful lines are as familiar in Germany, Switzerland, and Austria as proverbs. Whether they have a deeper meaning has long been the subject of controversy in literary journals. May Morgenstern's new friends decide—and enjoy his unique world around Gallows Hill.
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