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Gottfried Benn, letters: Dear black as white – culture

Saturday, December 23rd, 2017 | bitcoin updates


He was 18 when he sent his poetry to a literary critic and magazine editor. In the accompanying letter, the pastor's son was forced to reveal personal details to Carl Hermann Busse, who was unknown to him: "Here religion, longing, father's house, there longing for freedom, one's own worldview, artistry. So it goes on for several years, I wrestled u. One thing could not be avoided for the sake of the other. "The matter of religion should later be relativized, but with the back and forth between two poles a motive sounds, which draws in ever new variations through Gottfried Benn's life and writing, through his poetry as well as through his letters. Prominent in the expression "double life", with which the doctor for skin and venereal diseases and author of poetry and barely narrative prose in 1950 sought to justify their own mode of existence, but above all his temporary cooperation with the Nazi state, before this declared him an unpleasant person himself. All this is well known, although not entirely easy to explain. Unknown, however, are those 179 of a total of 293 letters, which are published for the first time in the selection "Absinthe sipping with straw, lyric with red pencil". Once more edited and expertly commented by Holger Hof, his range of time ranges from 1905 to 1956, the year of Benn's death. Unlike the now published correspondence with individuals such as Thea Sternheim, Friedrich Wilhelm Oelze or Ernst Jünger, the present selection offers a wealth of addressees and pitches. To Theodor W. Adorno Benn wrote differently than the friendly Else Lasker students. Accordingly, the final formulas, in which he showed himself particularly inventive, while he was able to preserve the form and change his own way: "You now entering the attic Gottfried Benn", "Stay as you are, then I congratulate ourselves and you" , "For ewer (!) Your Gottfried" or "Thanks u. Greeting u. Hand kiss / the old shabby GB ". Benn likes to give the dangerous couch potato This GB is in this volume in all its facets. There is the Agent Provocateur, who in 1946 wrote to Walter Karsch, the co-founder of this newspaper, in perfect form: "I could say that I used to be commander of Dachau or had intercourse with houseflies today; I would not move. "Or the little squeamish in questions of literary quality, the Herman Hesse" as an average development, marriage and inheitlichkeitsromancier – a typical German thing "chokes off. In general, the author, who is gradually coming to new honors after 1945 and is in contact with more and more actors of the literary scene, is taking up a great deal of space. Not least of all, this offers an opportunity for ever new variants of his artist's gospel, which, in the wake of Nietzsche, sets the art of history, life and the state. In doing so, he likes to pass on the dangerous couch potato, which "prefers black rather than white or pink lists," has been politically attacked from all sides, but artistically highly esteemed, of course, of necessity. There is also room for his bon mots: "A sublime spirit does not ask for the last things, he can not handle the penultimate ones."

 And then you come across tones that were previously less known, such as his daughter, he shows himself to be delicate and accessible – at least from afar, at least by letter. Born in 1915, Nele grew up after the death of her mother Edith, Benn's first wife, first with an uncle in Sellin, then with foster parents in Denmark, founded a family there and worked successfully as a journalist at a distance from everything that was German. To her, he marked the difference between his persona as author and the personal of the private individual, with her he exchanged about teething and turtles as well as about God or gender relations, CG Jung or his own writing – and all this charming and blunt: "Kiss , Your dad – so: 1) member of the Academy of Arts in Berlin, …, 4) father of Nele Topsoe, … 7) just as uncivil and reckless and crazy as always – ". Although Benn once claimed that he was not a letter writer other than Rilke, but that's not true, he was rather a gifted letter writer and wrote their abundant: well over 5000 are known, around 3500 now edited, others are to follow. And not by chance, because the letter medium allowed the withdrawn living and self-proclaimed "untouchables", the schlaglich touching ("sadness in the heart and hustle and bustle in the house"), but could also write mercilessly accurate, a well-tempered simultaneity of closeness and distance. In this respect, his letters are also news from a kind Isolationselysium. Gottfried Benn: "Absinthe is sipped with straw, lyric with red pencil". Selected letters 1904-1956. Edited by Holger Hof. Velcro-Cotta / Wallstein 2017. 623 p., 39,90 €.

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