Walter Benjamin as poet, Siegfried Kracauer as novelist

23. Mai 2017 - 20:30

Walter Benjamin as poet, Siegfried Kracauer as novelist

Bookpresentation with Carl Skoggard and Maria Zinfert
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As philosophers, media-historians, and theorists Walter Benjamin and Siegfried Kracauer are well known. But they were also authors of poems (W. Benjamin) and novels (S. Kracauer). Carl Skoggard will introduce and give readings from these literary works. He will be joined by Maria Zinfert in a discussion of his particular interest in these writings, and of the difficulties and delights of translating Benjamin‘s Sonnets and Kracauer’s Georg.

Walter Benjamin: Sonnets (ca. 1915 - 1925)
Walter Benjamin's Sonnets, written to mourn his friend Fritz Heinle, constitute a little-known part of the philosopher's literary achievement and a unique contribution to the history of the German sonnet. Benjamin would add to their number over a decade, having begun his project soon after the outbreak of World War I and the suicide of his friend. They were among the writings that Benjamin, forced to flee France, entrusted to Georges Bataille in 1940 for safekeeping. Here, for the first time, readers of English are offered translations of all 73 "Heinle sonnets" along with the original German text and an extensive commentary.

Siegfried Kracauer: Georg (1934)
Siegfried Kracauer’s second novel bears, just like his previous novel Ginster (1928), strong autobiographical references. Kracauer was an editor for cultural affairs at Germany's leading liberal newspaper, the Frankfurter Zeitung, during the Weimar Republic until its disastrous end. His novel Georg is a panorama of those years, as seen through the eyes of a rookie reporter working for the fictional Morgenbote (Morning Herald) who also struggles with his amorous attraction to his younger friend Fred (cameo Theodor Adorno). In a defeated nation seething with extremism right and left, young Georg is looking for something to believe in.

Carl Skoggard is the translator of Benjamin’s Berlin Childhood circa 1900 and The “Berlin Chronicle” Notices, both Publication Studio. Previously Skoggard served as the staff writer of Nest: A Quarterly of Interiors. His translation of Ein Jahr in Arkadien, a 1805 gay fiction by Duke August of Saxe-Gotha an Altenburg, appeared in 1999 as Year in Arcadia.

Maria Zinfert is the editer of Kracauer. Photographic Archive (diaphanes 2014) and co-editor, with Philippe Despoix, of Siegfried Kracauer’s, The Past’s Threshold. Essays on Photography (diaphanes 2014). She is the author of Über eine Poetik der Inversion. Die Romane von Victor Segalen (iudicium 2003), and translated, for merve publisher, Agamben’s Bartleby oder die Kontingenz and Ursprung und Vergessen (on Victor Segalen) and Segalen’s Tote Stimmen: Maori-Musik.

Walter Benjamin
Publication Studio 2015

Siegfried Kracauer
Publication Studio 2016

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