Who wrote sheets of grass
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With illustrations. Translated from the English by Jürgen Brocan. "He is America," said Ezra Pound of the poet Walt Whitman. In his "Grasbl Blätter" he sings about the departure of the USA after the civil war. In the melting pot of his poetry, Whitman brings together ideas from the culture, society, politics, science and mysticism of his time. His chants are the image and vision of a modern nation of the "United States", which is supposed to overcome divisions and bring freedom and equality to all people. More than a century after its publication, the poet Jürgen Brocan translated this central work of American literature completely into German and provided it with an afterword and a detailed commentary.
Review note on Neue Zürcher Zeitung, March 20, 2010
Reviewer Stefana Sabin cannot get intoxicated by these "leaves of grass". For that, the lyrics seem too indebted to the spirit of their time. Even if the poet no longer identifies with the audience, as Sabin discovered, the reviewer is still able to understand the revolutionary nature of these poems, both thematically and aesthetically speaking. For Sabin, Jürgen Brocan's new translation of the entire work is primarily responsible for ensuring that this continues to work and that the reader can grasp the special musicality of the free verse and the American ideal poetically reflected by Walt Whitman. Sabin recognizes the closeness to the original, the middle ground between sobriety and pathos, between modernity and archaic expression. She rates the fact that Brocan preserved the difficult register changes and the rhythm of English and still found a "smooth" German version as a great translation achievement.
Review note on Frankfurter Rundschau, January 5, 2010
Jan Wagner uses the translation of Walt Whitman's "Leaves of Grass", which is now completely in German for the first time, as an occasion for a great homage to the American poet who, in his eyes, laid nothing less than the cornerstone of American poetry. After giving an insight into Whitman's unsteady life and the complex history of the edition of "Leaves of Grass", Wagner conjures up the poet's radical subjectivism, formal independence and basic democratic attitudes. At the same time, he also appreciates the translation into German by Jürgen Brocan, who impressively stands out from the previous translations, not least with the German title "Grasblätter". What he also appreciates about the present edition is the often informative commentary and the listing of later deleted parts of the text as well as Whitman's essays included in it. However, he must be surprised that its programmatic, poetological preface to the first edition of the "Grasblätter" from 1855 is missing. Overall, however, the "world poem" that Whitman created with his "grass leaves" can be discovered in this volume, as the reviewer praises.
Review note on Süddeutsche Zeitung, December 8, 2009
Reviewer Heinz Schlaffer uses Jürgen Brocan's new translation of "Leaves of Grass" to admire Walt Whitman and his "democratic" poetry. Accordingly, he dedicates around nine tenths of his review to an outline of the work and effect of Whitman's poetry, which for Schlaffer expresses itself in a universal hymn of praise, on everything that can be found in America: from the "immeasurable pastures" to the prostitutes. Schlaffer also knows that without Whitman, German literature would probably never have overcome "the tradition of the romantic folk song". In the last tenth, Schlaffer mentions Jürgen Brocan's translation and attests to its lightness and success, especially because Whitman's free rhythms require little formal rigor. Against the insubordination of the "connoisseurs" who complain that poetry cannot be translated at all, Schlaffer counters with praise of the "strange and new" of every translation, which in this case has made Whitman's verses an important work of German literature.Read the review at buecher.de
Review note on Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, October 14, 2009
The author and poet Mirko Bonne who reviews here is entranced by this new translation by Jürgen Brocan, which for the first time includes the entire "Deathbed Edition" of Walt Whitman's "Grasblätter". He considers the influence of the text collection, which alternates between prose and poetry, on American authors - from Cummings and Eliot to Pound and Williams - to be immense. Brocan's more empathic approach appears to him great, the various linguistic forms that come together in Whitman (aria, prayer, gloss, hymn, etc.), which clearly wins in Bonne's comparison with earlier transcriptions. Bonne is also happy to have a "profound" annotation machine. He can understand that there was no space for the original texts at 860 pages. Less, however, is the lack of an initial alphabetical list of lines.Read the review at buecher.de
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