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A new selection of essays from Michael Hofmann – one of our most exceptional critics of contemporary literature.
‘Superb and invigorating.’ Nicholas Shakespeare, Daily Telegraph
In these thirty essays, Hofmann brings his signature wit and sustained critical mastery to a poetic, penetrating, and candid discussion of the writers and artists of the last hundred years. Here are the indispensable poets without which contemporary poetry would be unimaginable – Elizabeth Bishop, Robert Lowell, and the man he calls the greatest English poet since Shakespeare, Ted Hughes. But he also illumines the despair of John Berryman and the antics of poetry’s bogeyman, Frederick Seidel.
In essays on art that are themselves works of art, Hofmann’s agile and brilliant mind explores a panoply of subjects from the mastery of translation to the best day job for a poet. Where Have You Been? is an unmissable journey with literature’s most irresistible flaneur. At the same time, it is a story of love between a reader and his treasured books.
Superb and invigorating.
The poets Hofmann admires spring to life on the page. The writing is high-spirited and exhilarating and generous ... In this book, in which there seem to be all the different ways of being a poet, I see all the different ways of being a person, all the ways of living.
'The poet and translator Michael Hofmann is one of the most charismatic figures on the contemporary literary scene ... Where Have You Been? is a stunning, endlessly surprising book of critiscism.'
Michael Hofmann's thirty essays are each a masterclass in how to write about writing, and especially about poetry. He combines wit, fine judgement and a great wisdom with a plain style.
To anyone in my line of work, this learned, stylish and passionate critic evokes feelings of deep admiration tinged with the ambient fear you get in the quiet bits of a horror film.
Michael Hofmann has skeptical intelligence, an observant eye, a compulsion to speak the unspeakable, and the useful wariness of the displaced person.
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