Documents of Protest and Compassion

Documents of Protest and Compassion

Copyright Date: 1999
Pages: 192
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  • Book Info
    Documents of Protest and Compassion
    Book Description:

    Documents of Protest and Compassion offers the first extensive critical assessment of Bauer's considerable poetic oeuvre. In this long-overdue supplement to recent anthologies of Bauer's poetry and essays on his life and work, Angelika Arend draws on Bauer's diaries and letters to reveal the profoundly humane intentions that guided his choice of themes and structures. She shows that social protest and brotherly compassion, shared responsibility and critical self-reflection are Bauer's main thematic fare, which he presented in simple, yet carefully crafted, poetic structures, and explains how these ideas and forms developed or remained constant in light of historical, cultural, social, and personal developments.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-6795-5
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. ix-2)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 3-6)

    It seems sadly ironic that a prolific writer such as Walter Bauer, who spent his life in unswerving literary service to his fellow human beings,“brothers” and “friends,” should be virtually forgotten in his native Germany, and little known in Canada where he took up residence at age forty-eight. Commentators, small as their number has been to date, have offered plausible explanations. Prior to his emigration in 1952, Bauer had been a well established author – but one among many, one whose poetic voice did not stand out from the general chorus (Maczewski,Wanderer131). Bauer left Germany when intellectual and literary...

  6. CHAPTER ONE Poetic Creed
    (pp. 7-20)

    Before entering into a discussion of Bauer’s poetry, one needs to find out what he himself thought about the motives, mechanisms, and purpose of his lyrical endeavour. He did not write any programmatic piece that neatly sums it all up, but as a dedicated diarist he put down on paper numerous relevant comments and reflections, and as a university lecturer he published an essay on “German Poetry Today” (1965) in which he laid down the salient points of his own position. The following presentation is based principally on his published volume of“Tagebuchblätter,”titledEin Jahr(1967), and the above...

    • CHAPTER TWO Mastering the Craft
      (pp. 23-38)

      The label “record” does indeed fit the mode of presentation employed in all six poems of the first thematic group (World War I; see p. 6) gathered inLebenslauf.They all offer a scenic description of human action and experience, either by means of direct rendering of word and/or thought (“Die Hebamme spricht”; “Transportzug”), or by mediation through the filter of reminiscence (“Übers Feld, Mutter, ging ich dir weit entgegen”; “September”; “Augenblick aus dem Leben eines Kindes”), or by an imaginativemise en scène(“Kinder pflanzen einen Baum”).

      The title of the first poem, “Die Hebamme spricht” (LL 17-18; SL...

    • CHAPTER THREE Critical Strategies
      (pp. 39-54)

      The poems written during the National Socialist era and during World War II offer an illuminating “record” of Bauer’s observations, thoughts, and feelings during those years. While the selections included inLebenslaufreflect more accurately the later Bauer’s preference and judgment, they still give a good idea both of his preoccupations and creative tendencies at the time.

      Of the thirteen pieces that found their way intoLebenslauf,four give evidence of some camouflage strategies the poet appears to have adopted in an attempt to slip his poetry past the censors’ desk into print. Another eight poems form a homogeneous group...

    • CHAPTER FOUR The Price of Immigration
      (pp. 57-69)

      Bauer’s emigration did indeed give fresh nourishment to his disaffected muse, if only by furnishing brand-new subject matter. Poems about the new country, about immigrants from various parts of Europe, about the immigrant Walter Bauer, appropriately begin the Canadian half of hisLebenslauf.

      It has been suggested that Bauer’s image of Canada, before and after immigration, was essentially ”a myth of hope and longing, akin to the archetypal search for the promised land” (Riedel,“Kanadabild”197). A similar argument maintains that Bauer's search for a pure, untainted “counter-world” (“Gegenwelt”) to the Germany he had left behind ultimately led him to...

    • CHAPTER FIVE Holding Up the Mirror
      (pp. 70-83)

      What has been said about the discriminative targeting of criticism and compassion applies only to the emigrant Bauer commenting on himself and on his fellow emigrants. When it comes to Bauer vis-àvis his host society at large, the perspective is curiously reversed. While presenting himself, modestly but firmly, as the caring fellow man he no doubt strove to be and was, he found strong words of disapproval and censure for the shallow-minded, money-driven mass around him. The group of poems considered here includes some of his less successful works.

      “Zuerst werden wir einen Wagen haben” (LL 91; NT 49), for...

    • CHAPTER SIX Old Virtues Revisited
      (pp. 84-102)

      Almost one-half of the poetry written by Bauer in Canada and selected for publication inLebenslaufis autobiographical: the speaking “I” and even the distanced “he” of some of these poems clearly stand for the poet himself. A good part of this intensely personal poetry is gathered in cycles: “Im Innern der Stadt,” “Verse von einer Universität,” “Im Lesesaal,” “Interview mit einem älteren Mann.” As indicated earlier, the poetic cycle as crafted by the mature Bauer offers some very effective poetry.

      “Im Innern der Stadt” (LL 82-5) is a model of significant simplicity. It comprises fourteen numbered stanzaic units which...

    • CHAPTER SEVEN Theatrum Mundi
      (pp. 103-117)

      A writer who insists that his poetry is neither to serve a social or political agenda, nor to convey a “message” or “moral,” would severely undermine his credibility if he confined his observation and reflection to the contemporary scene and offered nothing more farreaching than the specific social criticism and corrective conceptual model that have been discussed in the two preceding chapters. It is therefore important to realize that the potentially compromising specificity of Bauer’s social criticism and advice is thoroughly embedded in the universal perspective that informs all of his thinking and writing. He does take aim at the...

    • CHAPTER EIGHT The Courage of Old Age
      (pp. 118-134)

      When Bauer, on his publisher’s suggestion, decided to mark his seventieth birthday with the issue of his retrospectiveLebenslauf,he approached the task of compiling it with mixed feelings. On the one hand, he was proud of being the only one among his (by now very few) contemporaries who could present such a volume; he was confident that every one of these poems would be a worthwhile document arresting in crafted form one specific moment of life: “Had it been worthwhile? Certainly. Every poem ... holds one formed moment of life, my life at a certain point in time. I...

  9. Postscript
    (pp. 135-136)

    “Die zweite Erschaffung der Welt. Das ist die Auszeichnung, die du empfangen hast,” Bauer wrote in his diary on 13 April 1958, giving voice to a sense of mission he shared with many fellow artists. The distinction, gratefully received, was at the same time a life sentence to hard labour: “Von großen Leuten lesen – und wie sie schufteten – yes sir,” 10 April 1958). The fruits of Bauer’s lifelong hard labour are contained in volume upon volume of prose and poetry, varying greatly in kind, length, and interest. Any critical approach to Bauer’s ceuvre is faced with the daunting task of...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 137-142)
  11. Works Cited
    (pp. 143-146)
  12. Index
    (pp. 147-151)