Understanding Johannes Bobrowski
In this critical introduction to the poetry and fiction of Johannes Bobrowski (1917-1965), David Scrase elucidates the literary subtleties of one of the most prominent writers to live and work in the German Democratic Republic. Despite the fact that Bobrowski won such prestigious accolades as the Heinrich Mann Prize and Charles Veillon Prize and held an important position in the literature of postwar Germany, very little English-language scholarship has been published about his work. Scrase fills this gap by exploring the heralded writer's novels, poems, and short stories. Contending that Bobrowski's writing can be understood only by those who appreciate the ethos that pervaded East Prussia during the writer's childhood, Scrase begins by reviewing the region's history and profiling the diverse ethnic and religious communities that Bobrowski encountered there. In looking at a representative sampling of Bobrowski's work, Scrase exposes the writer's attempts to come to terms with Germany's destructive role in eastern Europe. Scrase offers close readings of selected Bobrowski poems, most of which depict the landscape of Sarmatia, its rural traditions, and the daily tasks of its people. He also reviews Bobrowski's two novels, Levin's Mill and Lithuanian Pianos, and explains how to read Bobrowski's short stories.
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