Hans Magnus Enzensberger
Enzensberger in Warsaw, 2006
Enzensberger in Warsaw, 2006
Born(1929-11-11)11 November 1929
Kaufbeuren, Bavaria, Germany
Died24 November 2022(2022-11-24) (aged 93)
Munich, Bavaria, Germany
Pen name
  • Andreas Thalmayr
  • Giorgio Pellizzi
  • Linda Quilt
  • Elisabeth Ambras
EducationUniversity of Erlangen–Nuremberg
  • Poetry
  • essay
  • novel
Notable works
Notable awards

Hans Magnus Enzensberger (11 November 1929 – 24 November 2022) was a German author, poet, translator, and editor. He also wrote under the pseudonyms Andreas Thalmayr, Elisabeth Ambras, Linda Quilt and Giorgio Pellizzi. Enzensberger was regarded as one of the literary founding figures of the Federal Republic of Germany and wrote more than 70 books,[1] with works translated into 40 languages. He was one of the leading authors in Group 47, and influenced the 1968 West German student movement. He was awarded the Georg Büchner Prize and the Pour le Mérite, among many others.

Life and career

Enzensberger was born in 1929 in Kaufbeuren, a small town in Bavaria, as the eldest of four boys.[2] His father, Andreas Enzensberger, worked as a telecommunications technician, and his mother, Leonore (Ledermann) Enzensberger, a kindergarten teacher.[3][4] Enzensberger was part of the last generation of intellectuals whose writing was shaped by first-hand experience of Nazi Germany.[a] The Enzensberger family moved to Nuremberg in 1931.[2] Julius Streicher, the founder and publisher of the virulently antisemitic Der Stürmer, was their next-door neighbour. Hans Magnus joined the Hitler Youth in his teens, but was expelled soon afterwards. "I have always been incapable of being a good comrade. I can't stay in line. It's not in my character. It may be a defect, but I can't help it."[2]

In 1949, after completing his Abitur in Nördlingen,[5] Enzensberger studied literature and philosophy at the universities of Erlangen, Freiburg, and Hamburg, and at the Sorbonne in Paris, receiving his doctorate in 1955 for a thesis about Clemens Brentano's poetry.[6][7][8] Until 1957 he worked as a radio editor in Stuttgart with Alfred Andersch;[9] he criticized in a radio essay Der Spiegel's language style.[10] He became one of the leading authors in the Group 47, an institution that shaped the culture of Germany after World War II.[11][12] In 1957 Group 47 member Ingeborg Bachmann and Enzensberger began to exchange letters.[13][14] His first literary publication was the poem collection verteidigung der wölfe (Defense of the Wolves) in 1957, followed by landessprache in 1960, both originally in all-lowercase.[15][16] They were perceived as opposition to the establishment of those who had been on battle fields and in camps, described as "furious, elegant and of controlled rage" ("furios, elegant und von kontrollierter Wut").[1] He played the role "zorniger junger Mann" (angry young man) as British role models.[17] In 1960, he was the editor of Museum der modernen Poesie (Museum of modern poetry), an anthology of poems by contemporary authors in a juxtaposition of original and translation, which was rare at the time.[1][18] From 1960 to 1961, Enzensberger was a literary editor (Verlagslektor) at Suhrkamp in Frankfurt.[9] He spoke several languages, intensified by travels: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Norwegian, Swedish and some Russian.[1] With a volume of essays published in 1962, Einzelheiten, he entered the position of a critical intellectual which he held for life.[17]

Between 1965 and 1975 he lived briefly in the United States (Fellow of the Center for Advanced Studies Wesleyan University)[b][19] and Cuba.[20] He had the composer Hans Werner Henze invited to Cuba in 1969, and wrote the libretto for his El Cimarrón for baritone and three instrumentalists based on the memories of the escaped slave Esteban Montejo.[21]

Kursbuch, first edition

From 1965, Enzensberger edited the magazine Kursbuch [de];[22] his writings influenced the 1968 West German student movement.[11] He was editor of the prestigious book series Die Andere Bibliothek [de], published in Frankfurt, from 1985; it reached almost 250 titles.[23] He promoted the writers Ryszard Kapuscinski, Raoul Schrott, Irene Dische, Christoph Ransmayr, and W.G. Sebald, among others.[3] Together with Gaston Salvatore, Enzensberger was the founder of the left-wing monthly TransAtlantik [de].[24] The literary journal survived for only two years.[3]

In his 1987 book Ach Europa! Wahrnehmungen aus sieben Ländern, Enzensberger used already the terms Ossi and Wessi.[25]

Personal life

Enzensberger was the older brother of the author Christian Enzensberger.[26] He was married three times, including Masha, and had two daughters, including Theresia Enzensberger [de].[3] Mathematics was his passion.[27]

Enzensberger lived in Norway, Italy, Mexico, Cuba, the United States, West Berlin, and since 1979 in Munich[28][5] where he died on 24 November 2022, at age 93.[11][29][30]


Enzensberger wrote in a sarcastic, ironic tone in many of his poems.[31] For example, the poem "Middle Class Blues" consists of various typicalities of middle class life, with the phrase "we can't complain" repeated several times, and concludes with "what are we waiting for?". Many of his poems also feature themes of civil unrest over economic- and class-based issues. Though primarily a poet and essayist, he also ventured into theatre, film, opera, radio drama, reportage and translation. He wrote novels and several books for children (including The Number Devil, an exploration of mathematics, translated in 34 languages)[32] and was co-author of a book for German as a foreign language, (Die Suche).[33] He often wrote his poems and letters in lower case.[34] Tumult, written in 2014, is an autobiographical reflection of his 1960s as a left-wing sympathizer visiting the Soviet Union and Cuba.[35][36] His own work has been translated into more than 40 languages.[7]

Landsberger Poesieautomat (Poetry-Machine)

Enzensberger also invented and collaborated in the construction of a machine which automatically composes poems (Landsberger Poesieautomat [de]).[37] This was used during the 2006 Football World Cup to commentate on games.[38][39]

Enzensberger criticized the German orthography reform, the dominance of the internet and the construction of the EU.[40]

Enzensberger translated Adam Zagajewski, Lars Gustafsson, Pablo Neruda, W. H. Auden and César Vallejo.[41][2][42] With Irene Dische he wrote the libretto for Sallinen's fifth opera The Palace.[43] The theatre premiere of a drama after his long poem Der Untergang der Titanic on 7 May 1980 was directed by George Tabori at the Werkraumtheater Munich.[44]

Honors and awards

In 2009, Enzensberger received a special lifetime recognition award given by the trustees of the Griffin Trust for Excellence in Poetry,[7] which also awards the annual Griffin Poetry Prize.[28]

Published works

Bibliography (English)



  1. ^ Contemporaries include Günter Grass (1927–2015), Martin Walser (born 1927) and Jürgen Habermas (born 1929).
  2. ^ Enzensberger left the United States prematurely in protest against US foreign policy.


  1. ^ a b c d Ingendaay, Paul (25 November 2022). "Hans Magnus Enzensberger: So leicht und elegant wie niemand in Deutschland". FAZ.NET (in German). Retrieved 25 November 2022.
  2. ^ a b c d Oltermann, Philip (15 May 2010). "A life in writing: Hans Magnus Enzensberger". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 August 2014.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Hans Magnus Enzensberger ist tot – 25.11.2022". DW.COM (in German). Retrieved 26 November 2022.
  4. ^ Eddy, Melissa (3 December 2022). "Hans Magnus Enzensberger, Leading Light in German Letters, Dies at 93". The New York Times. Vol. 172, no. 59626. p. A21. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 3 December 2022.
  5. ^ a b "Intellektueller: Hans Magnus Enzensberger mit 93 Jahren gestorben". Leonberger Kreiszeitung (in German). 25 November 2022. Retrieved 26 November 2022.
  6. ^ Enzensberger, H.M. (1955). Über das dichterische Verfahren in Clemens Brentanos lyrischem Werk (in German). Friedrich-Alexander Universität, Erlangen. Retrieved 25 November 2022.
  7. ^ a b c "Griffin Poetry Prize Lifetime Recognition Award profile". Archived from the original on 10 April 2010.
  8. ^ a b Studienstiftung 90 Jahre, 90 Köpfe
  9. ^ a b "Hans Magnus Enzensberger". Biografie WHO'S WHO (in German). Retrieved 27 November 2022.
  10. ^ "Hans Magnus Enzensberger: Radio-Essay "Die Sprache des SPIEGEL"". Der Spiegel (in German). 5 March 1957. Retrieved 26 November 2022.
  11. ^ a b c ""Er war eine intellektuelle Instanz, die wir schmerzlich vermissen werden"". Süddeutsche.de (in German). 25 November 2022. Retrieved 25 November 2022.
  12. ^ Mund, Heike (25 November 2022). "German author Hans Magnus Enzensberger dies – DW – 11/25/2022". dw.com. Retrieved 25 November 2022.
  13. ^ "Enzensberger - Annäherung zweier Ungleicher". Deutschlandfunk (in German). 9 December 2018. Retrieved 26 November 2022.
  14. ^ Bachmann, Ingeborg; Enzensberger, Hans Magnus; Lengauer, Hubert (2018). "Schreib alles was wahr ist auf" : der Briefwechsel (in German). München. ISBN 978-3-518-42613-5. OCLC 1042084501.((cite book)): CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  15. ^ "Von Hans Magnus Enzensberger lernen". Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung (in German). 11 November 2014. Retrieved 26 November 2022.
  16. ^ Rroji, Elvis; Hiebel, Hans Helmut. "Enzensbergers frühe politische Lyrik / vorgelegt von Elvis Rroji". UB Graz (in German). Retrieved 26 November 2022.
  17. ^ a b Schimmang, Jochen (25 November 2022). "Nachruf auf Hans Magnus Enzensberger: Zeitlebens heiteres Kind". taz.de (in German). Retrieved 26 November 2022.
  18. ^ Enzensberger, Hans Magnus (2002). Museum der modernen Poesie mehrsprachige Ausgabe (in German). Frankfurt am Main. ISBN 978-3-518-41380-7. OCLC 216904877.((cite book)): CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  19. ^ Enzensberger, Hans Magnus (21 November 2015). "On Leaving America". The New York Review of Books. Retrieved 27 November 2022.
  20. ^ Blaustein, George (26 November 2018). "A New Translation of an Anti-Heroic German Doorstopper of 1968". The New Yorker – via www.newyorker.com.
  21. ^ "Hans Werner Henze: "El Cimarrón"". www.elcimarronensemble.com. Retrieved 26 November 2022.
  22. ^ "Über das Kursbuch". Archived from the original on 1 June 2014. Retrieved 3 August 2014.
  23. ^ ""Andere Bibliothek": Hans Magnus Enzensberger will kündigen". Der Spiegel (in German). 21 December 2004. Retrieved 3 August 2014.
  24. ^ "Zeitschriften". www.literaturportal-bayern.de.
  25. ^ Grub, Frank Thomas (2003). Wende und Einheit im Spiegel der deutschsprachigen Literatur : ein Handbuch. Band 1, Untersuchungen (in German). Berlin: W. de Gruyter. p. 542. ISBN 978-3-11-020163-5. OCLC 174964561.
  26. ^ "Interview mit Hans Magnus Enzensberger" (in German). Retrieved 3 August 2014.
  27. ^ "Enzensberger-Essay: Die Mucken der Mathematik". Der Spiegel (in German). 11 October 2009. Retrieved 26 November 2022.
  28. ^ a b c d Hegelman, Richard (25 November 2022). "Hans Magnus Enzensberger". Poetry Foundation. Retrieved 25 November 2022.
  29. ^ "Hans Magnus Enzensberger ist tot". Der Spiegel (in German). 25 November 2022. Retrieved 25 November 2022.
  30. ^ "Autor Hans Magnus Enzensberger mit 93 Jahren gestorben". Süddeutsche.de (in German). dpa. 25 November 2022. Retrieved 25 November 2022.
  31. ^ Schmid, Helge (November 1999). "Mit englischer Behendigkeit Hans Magnus Enzensberger als Nachdichter" (in German). literaturkritik.de. Retrieved 3 August 2014.
  32. ^ "Aktuelles". Hanser Literaturverlage. Retrieved 27 November 2022.
  33. ^ Volker Eismann (1993). Die Suche / Bd. 1 Materialien. 1, Textbuch (in German). Berlin: Langenscheidt. ISBN 3-468-47600-0. OCLC 311891908.
  34. ^ Lopez, Christina Pulido; Bewerunge, Martin (25 November 2022). "Im Alter von 93 Jahren: Schriftsteller Hans Magnus Enzensberger gestorben". RP Online (in German). Retrieved 26 November 2022.
  35. ^ Enzensberger, Hans Magnus (2014). Tumult (in Latvian). Berlin. ISBN 978-3-518-42464-3. OCLC 893893496.((cite book)): CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  36. ^ "Hans Magnus Enzensberger". Deutschlandfunk (in German). 9 November 2014. Retrieved 27 November 2022.
  37. ^ Enzensberger, Hans Magnus (2000). Einladung zu einem Poesie-Automaten (in German). Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp. ISBN 3-518-12156-1. OCLC 44746235.
  38. ^ "Press Release: The Artistic and Cultural Programme of the Federal Government for the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany". Retrieved 9 May 2017.
  39. ^ "Warum man einen Poesie-Automaten baut..." (in German). 25 January 2006. Archived from the original on 17 July 2006. Retrieved 9 May 2017.
  40. ^ "Deutsche Denkerikone wurde 93 - Dichter, Denker, Draufgänger: Hans Magnus Enzensberger gestorben". Schweizer Radio und Fernsehen (SRF) (in German). 25 November 2022. Retrieved 26 November 2022.
  41. ^ Konzett, Matthias (2000). Encyclopedia of German literature. Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers/Routledge. ISBN 978-1-84972-226-1. OCLC 436851364.
  42. ^ "Rezension: Sachbuch: Frischer Wind vom Paradies". FAZ.NET (in German). 11 November 1999. Retrieved 26 November 2022.
  43. ^ "Some Thoughts on The Palace by Aulis Sallinen, 1995. At the Music Finland site". Archived from the original on 22 January 2016.
  44. ^ "Der Untergang der Titanic. Theaterstück und Hörspiel von Hans Magnus Enzensberger". Suhrkamp Theater Verlag (in German). 16 June 2021. Retrieved 26 November 2022.
  45. ^ "Awards – Georg-Büchner-Preis – Hans Magnus Enzensberger". Deutsche Akademie für Sprache und Dichtung. Retrieved 25 November 2022.
  46. ^ Herald, Korea (25 August 2014). "Poet Ko Un receives Golden Wreath Award". The Korea Herald. Retrieved 25 November 2022.
  47. ^ "1993: Hans Magnus Enzensberger und Dörte von Westernhagen (Sonderpreis)". Stadt Osnabrück – Die Friedensstadt 2023 (in German). 31 May 2022. Retrieved 25 November 2022.
  48. ^ "Projekt: Ernst-Robert-Curtius-Preis". lion.nrw (in German). Retrieved 26 November 2022.
  49. ^ "Preisverleihung: Heine-Preis an Enzensberger". Wiener Zeitung (in German). 14 December 1998. Retrieved 25 November 2022.
  50. ^ "Pour le Mérite: Hans Magnus Enzensberger" (PDF). www.orden-pourlemerite.de. 2018. Retrieved 30 June 2021.
  51. ^ IT, Intermark. "Hans Magnus Enzensberger – Princess of Asturias Awards – The Princess of Asturias Foundation". The Princess of Asturias Foundation. Retrieved 25 November 2022.
  52. ^ "Auszeichnung: Goettle statt Enzensberger: Wie der Börne-Preis umgeleitet wurde". FAZ.NET (in German). 2 June 2002. Retrieved 25 November 2022.
  53. ^ Enzensberger, Hans Magnus (3 February 2010). "Europa-Polemik zum Sonning-Preis: Wehrt euch gegen die Bananenbürokratie!". FAZ.NET (in German). Retrieved 25 November 2022.
  54. ^ "Bard College Holds One Hundred Fifty-Second Commencement on Saturday, May 26, 2012". PRWeb. 26 May 2012. Retrieved 21 November 2020.
  55. ^ "German Poet Hans Magnus Enzensberger is Given the "Poetry and People – International Poetry Prize"". SJL三角铃. 8 September 2017. Retrieved 25 November 2022.

Further reading