German poetry has been obsessed with concepts and images of the future for decades. The present article concentrates on the pertinent contributions by the two leading German poets, Günter Kunert and Hans Magnus Enzensberger, and their lyrical output since the late 1980s. What they portray is, on the whole, a rather gloomy picture, albeit not without a bit of redeemding irony.
Hardly ever do images of Thai or Thailand occur in German literature. Granted, there exists an early if seemingly isolated forerunner from the 17th century: namely, Heinrich Anshelm von Zigler und Kliphausen’s voluminous Baroque novel in titled Die asiatische Banise (“The Asian Banise” [which is the name of the heroine]). I adduced it, and briefly discussed its opening scene, in my talk “What is a Good Dramatic Text? A German’s Answer to a Thai’s Question” that I gave in Bangkok almost a decade ago, and which was subsequently published, in a Thai translation by Chetana Nagavajara, in Silpakorn University’s Journal of the Faculty of Arts and, in its English original, in my book Versuche zur europäischen Literatur of 1994. As for the three centuries following the Banise however I had been unaware of any treatments of Thai topics in German letters; and the quite recent, though very important and meritorious, exception to the rule, Hella Kothmann’s collection ofvarious Thai texts in German rendition, her Das siamesische Lächeln (“The Siamese Smile”), appeared only after I had penned and delivered my lecture—in fact, simultaneously, as it were, with my aforesaid book.