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The Emergence of West German Poetry from the Second World War into the Early Post-War Period

A Study in Poetic Response

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Anthony Bushell

Drawing on a broad selection of West German poetry appearing in the early post-war years, this study attempts to establish not only the range and nature of these poetic works, but also the contributory forces and constraints upon poets in coming to terms with a defeated and occupied Germany. The dismissive attitude in later criticism towards the genre of this period is seen to be based on a failure to appreciate certain developments within poetry since Baudelaire. These developments made it uniquely difficult for poetry to respond in convincing aesthetic terms to the historical reality of war and the Third Reich. Those poets who did attempt to reflect directly upon Germany's past from the perspective of a provisional presence are shown to have had recourse to markedly regressive poetic forms, and their work is the subject of detailed analysis.
Contents: The theoretical and historical background to post-war poetry - The aesthetics of analysis - The experience of war in poetry - Poetry in the new Germany.