A Skeleton Plays Violin
Translated by James Reidel
5 x 8.5, 256 pp. July 2017
ISBN : 9780857424297
Rs 595.00 (HB)
The work of poet Georg Trakl, a leading Austrian-German expressionist, has been praised by many, including his contemporaries Rainer Maria Rilke and Else Lasker-Schüler, as well as his patron Ludwig Wittgenstein. Wittgenstein famously wrote that while he did not truly understand Trakl’s poems, they had the tone of a “truly ingenious person,” which pleased him.
A Skeleton Plays Violin comprises the final volume in a trilogy of works by Trakl published by Seagull Books. This selection gathers Trakl’s early, middle, and late work, none of it published in book form during his lifetime. The work here ranges widely, from his haunting prose pieces to his darkly beautiful poems documenting the first bloody weeks of World War I on the Eastern Front.
Book Three of Our Trakl—the series that began with Trakl’s first book Poems and his posthumously published Sebastian Dreaming—also includes translations of unpublished poems and significant variants. Interpolated throughout this comprehensive and chronological selection is a biographical essay that provides more information about Trakl’s gifted and troubled life, especially as it relates to his poetry, as well as the necessary context of his relationship with his favorite sibling, his sister Grete, whose role as a muse to her brother is still highly controversial. Trakl’s life was mysterious and fascinating, a fact reflected in his work. A Skeleton Plays Violin should not be missed.
Georg Trakl was born in Salzburg, Austria. As a teenager he gravitated towards poetry, incest and drug addiction and published his first work by 1908, the year he went to Vienna to attend pharmacy school and became part of that city’s fin-de-siÃ¨cle cultural life. He enjoyed early success and published his first book in 1913. A year later, however, he died of a cocaine overdose due to battle fatigue and depression from the wartime delay of his second book.
James Reidel is poet, translator, editor and biographer. In addition to the works of Georg Trakl, he has translated novels by Franz Werfel and poetry by Thomas Bernhard, among others. He is the biographer of poet Weldon Kees and author of two volumes of poetry.