A Hopeless Search (Peter Weiss)

‘With Kafka everything was permeated by his terror of contact. His pain was in the intellectual sphere; he portrayed the battle of ideas, of conflicting feelings. He found himself on a hopeless search for the closeness of others, he dreamt of a community, a reprieve, a reconciliations and constantly he had before him the unattainable, the impossible,’

Peter Weiss, Leavetaking and Vanishing Point, p.246

With the news that an English translation of the second volume of Peter Weiss’s three-volume The Aesthetics of Resistance is finally in sight comes a personal reminder that I must make a further attempt to scale the first volume.

In preparation I’m reading Ian Hilton’s monograph, Peter Weiss: A Search for Affinities. It’s part of a small set I’ve started collecting of Oswald Woolf’s Modern German Authors series, which also include monographs on Ilse Aichinger, Peter Handke, Gottfried Benn and Johannes Bobrowski, all writers of interest.

Gottfried Benn’s Silence

Silence,
coming from within:
things past,
tender early associations
ended by death;
also days with table-decorations and fruit-bowls
placed between couples
of unwavering commitment, two flames.

Silence,
from faraway estates,
preparations for festivities or homecomings:
beating of carpets,
on which, later,
many pairs of feet will shuffle
dotingly and in love.

Silence,
once endured and in store for strangers,
broken today by a hoarse plea:
“stay by me,
maybe not all that much longer,
too much decay in me,
too much heaviness,
fatigue.”

(Trans. Michael Hofmann)