Dimension2: Contemporary German-Language Literature

Volume 3, Number 2


Ingo R. Stoehr

Magazines evolve like human beings do, perhaps because magazines are made by humans. In DIMENSION2 there have indeed already been a number of minor changes over the past couple of years. All changes have contributed, I hope, to improving the magazine and adding more life to it. For instance, I started to include photographs of my interview partners with the September 1995 issue. The present issue marks the first time that facsimile reproductions of texts and previously translated texts are printed in DIMENSION2.

Printing facsimile reproductions of literary texts (in this issue all are of poems) has two goals. In terms of the first goal, these reproductions represent the materials that are available at specific places, i.e., in this issue the Deutsches Literaturarchiv in Marbach [German Literary Archives]. Special thanks (in alphabetical order) go to Jochen Meyer, Ulrich Ott, and Reinhard Tgahrt of the German Literary Archives for their time and assistance during my visit in Marbach as well as later via e-mail, fax, and regular mail.The second goal is in keeping with the Goethe-quote used by Jochen Meyer in his essay on "The Manuscripts" at Marbach: In order to understand works of art, it is important "to catch a glimpse of them while they are emerging." This seems to be a tremendously emotional aspect in the encounter with literature, which is shared by many including Erich Frey, who describes both the double excitement of dealing with original autographs and of investigating the treasure trove in the German Literary Archives.Typescript of manuscript versions (or their reproductions) indeed seem to bring us closer to their writers. Whenever these versions actually differ from the printed versions, especially when they show changes made in the author's handwriting, we catch a glimpse of literature in the process of emerging. This holds for me an excitement that is at the same time as sensual as it is enlightening. Opinions about this, of course, differ; however, I humbly present the facsimile reproductions to the readers of this issue, so they can take their own glimpses if they so wish.These reproductions lead me to the next "first" for DIMENSION2. While it it is my usual editorial policy that texts that have already appeared in English translations elsewhere are not published again, this issue includes three short poems and one long one that all have been published in English translation before. Nevertheless, the primary goal of DIMENSION2 is and will be to make accessible those German literary texts that are not otherwise available in English translation.The rationale for making exceptions in this issue follows the logic that "competing" translations may serve to open up literary texts for readers; this is a position that other magazines have adopted and that also seems appealing to readers who read books such as the one which has collected sixty six German versions of Shakespeare's Sonnet 66. The three poems from the Marbach selection in question here are in fact technically first publications because they are the translations of the typescript or manuscript versions, which differ from the printed versions, which in turn had been used for the previously published translations.The poem by Enzensberger, however, is a major is a major literary text, and a new version has the potential of giving it more visibility and of entering a beneficial dialog with the existing translation. Like two of the "Marbach poems," Enzensberger's poem has already been published in a translation by Michael Hamburger, who thus has a silent presence here, which needs to be acknowledge. A lyric poet himself, he principally translates only the final version of a poem. Most graciously, however, he reserves no special rights to translating a particular poem and thus has been supportive of this issue of DIMENSION2. Michael Hamburger's many translations are a major achievement because for decades they have helped bring German literature to an English-speaking audience. This is where his endeavors and the mission of DIMENSION2 intersect.I would like to express my appreciation to everybody involved in this issue for his or her cooperation. The fact that some texts that were submitted for this issue are not included does not reflect a lack of cooperation but is rather due to more "technical" aspects. In the big picture, I believe, this issue gives a good introduction to its focus, the German Literary Archives in Marbach. In addition, several texts that are outside of this focus round off the issue. Hans Bender encouraged me in general to include texts that go beyond an issue's specific focus. After all, a focus that has one person thrilled might not be appealing to another, so a mix of texts both from within and beyond the focus promises to be a winning strategy. And I will adopt it wherever it is feasible.Finally, readers of DIMENSION2 will have noticed yet another change. Originally published without any advertising, the magazine has started to include advertisements for books printed by the Second Dimension Press and written by members of the magazine's editorial board as a courtesy. This issue of DIMENSION2 also includes the first "outside" advertisements. Because this is a gradual development, I have not yet formulated a consistent policy on advertising. While I would like to limit advertising, DIMENSION2 also needs the money (from paid advertising in the magazine) and the visibility (from advertising on an exchange basis with other publications).I would also like to call for your support as readers of DIMENSION2: Help this magazine spread the word about German literature by spreading the word about the magazine. I do not have to remind you that your costs of living have gone up during the last two and a half years. Those have been good years, but postage has gone up an average of 17% I read somewhere, and so have printing costs: the price just for paper (with some ups and downs) has in fact risen 10% over the same time period.

Like human beings, magazines evolve. To make sure that DIMENSION2 keeps improving and remains affordable at the current low subscription price, I have one hope and one request: I hope that you enjoy reading DIMENSION2 and, if you do, I would like to ask for your continued support.

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