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The Cambridge Introduction to German Poetry

German poetry has long held a special place within the Western literary tradition. Its major achievements include Luther's hymns, Goethe's unequalled poetic versatility, the Romantics' lyric songs and the challenging poetry of Hoelderlin, Rilke and Celan. Combining readings of traditional poems with fresh examples, Judith Ryan conveys the rich rewards that come with reading German poetry. Organized thematically, the book demonstrates the significance of the poems in their time while also showing their resonance in later periods. The nuanced readings in this book serve as ideal examples for close engagement with the primary texts. Quotations are given in the original German and translated into English prose. Special sections give guidance on how to approach an unfamiliar text and how to compose a close reading; an appendix on German metrics and a glossary of technical terms are also provided, along with further reading for those ready to explore more widely.
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Table of Contents

Preface; Acknowledgments; 1. Exploring the poem; 2. Poetic roles in early song-lyrics; 3. Devotional poetry; 4. The rhetoric of passion; 5. Classical Antiquity and modern experience; 6. Romantic poetry and the problem of lyric unity; 7. The self and the senses; 8. Modernism and difficulty; 9. Poetry after Auschwitz; 10. The strain of political poetry; Working on the text; Writing up your close reading; German metrics; Index.

About the Author

Judith Ryan is Robert K. and Dale J. Weary Professor of German and Comparative Literature at Harvard University.


'Judith Ryan's superb new introduction to German poetry is to be welcomed on any number of fronts: it is unimpeachable in its treatment of major texts from the German-language lyric canon, presenting these with a richness and verve which should appeal both to the conventional readership of an 'introduction' and to those with a serious existing interest in German poetry; it combines formidable scholarship - ranging from medieval to contemporary poetry - with an admirable lightness of touch.' Ian Cooper, Modern Language Review 'This is an exceptional book: despite being billed as an introduction, it has as much to offer to specialists as to novice readers, and it combines a clear sense of literary and historical context with nuanced readings of individual poems, allowing those not familiar with them to get a first taste of the real thing rather than second-hand descriptions, while also setting out the reasons why particular texts are chosen and offering brief but illuminating comments on their textual history.' Seminar: A Journal of Germanic Studies

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