Christopher Middleton’s Hölderlin

Friedrich Hölderlin (1770–1843) was one of Europe’s greatest poets and has influenced such figures as Nietzsche, Rilke, Celan, Char, and Cixous. Christopher Middleton, himself a distinguished poet, wrote about and translated Hölderlin on and off for almost fifty years. This remarkable body of work, until now scattered in hard-to-find editions, is being collected as «Friedrich Hölderlin: Selected Poems and Letters». The 272-page bilingual volume will include translations of 31 poems and 14 letters, as well as an introduction, notes, and three essays by Middleton. Compiled and typeset by Phil Baber, it will be published by The Last Books in Amsterdam.

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More about the book

Christopher Middleton (1926–2015) translated from many languages – French, Swedish, Spanish, Turkish, Arabic – but most often from German, including works by Elias Canetti, Christa Wolf, and Robert Walser. His Hölderlin translations are uncommonly successful at recreating the strange beauty and syntactical complexities of the originals. This is especially apparent in his renderings of the late hymns, where a careful use of white space, indentation, and enjambment, prompted by the gaps and silences in some of the originals, enables him, as he puts it, to «sharpen the profiles of particular words and phrases and to invest the English with some of the glowing and vigorous rugosity which Hölderlin achieves by rhythmical turns, elliptical syntax, eccentric word order, and changes of key.»

Poet/translator Rosmarie Waldrop gave the following summary of the book: «Christopher Middleton is an extraordinary translator, bringing his fine poet’s ear and inventiveness to the task. In addition to the brilliant versions, this volume offers Middleton’s essays on the poet and a selection from Hölderlin’s letters – a great gift to us all.»

A custom version of Walbaum-Antiqua – the typeface chosen by Hölderlin for the 1804 edition of his Sophocles translations – has been drawn specially for the project by Fabian Harb.

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How you can help

The book is typeset, proofread, and ready to print. However, we still need to raise €1600 – or 65% of the total printing costs.

If you’re interested in the project and would like to support its production, we’d be really grateful. You can do this by selecting one of the rewards on the right – which include the chance to pre-order the book, with shipping, for €25.

If our campaign succeeds, the book will be printed and shipped in November.

Thank you!

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