George, Emery E(dward) 1933-
GEORGE, Emery E(dward) 1933-
PERSONAL: Born May 8, 1933, in Budapest, Hungary; son of Larry H. (a tool designer) and Julianna (Deutsch) George; married Mary G. Wiedenbeck (a librarian), 1969. Education: University of Michigan, B.A., 1955, M.A., 1959, Ph.D., 1964.
ADDRESSES: Home—16 Buckingham Avenue, Trenton, NJ 08618. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Educator and poet. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, instructor, 1964-65, assistant professor of German, 1965-66; University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, assistant professor, 1966-69, associate professor, 1969-75, professor, 1975-88, professor emeritus of German, 1988—. Military service: U.S. Army, 1955-58.
MEMBER: International Academy of Poets (Cambridge, England), Modern Language Association of America, Poetry Society of America, Hölderlin-Gesellschaft.
AWARDS, HONORS: Hopwood Major Award for Poetry, 1960; International Research and Exchanges Board fellowship to Hungary, 1981; Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft travel and research grant, 1986; Kenyon Review nonfiction award for literary excellence, 1991, for "The Allegory of Spandau."
(Editor) Friedrich Hölderlin: An Early Modern, University of Michigan Press (Ann Arbor, MI), 1972.
Hölderlin's "Ars Poetica," Mouton (The Hague, Netherlands), 1973.
(Editor, with L. T. Frank) Husbanding the Golden Grain: Studies in Honor of Henry W. Nordmeyer, Department of German, University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, MI), 1973.
The Poetry of Miklós Radnóti: A Comparative Study, Karz-Cohl (New York, NY), 1986.
(Editor, with D. E. Sattler) Friedrich Hölderlin, Sämtliche Werke: Homburger Folioheft, Stroemfeld/ Roter Stern (Frankfurt am Main, Germany/Basle Switzerland), 1986.
Hölderlin and the Golden Chain of Homer: Including an Unknown Source, Edwin Mellen Press (Lewiston, NY), 1992.
Hölderlin's Hymn "Der Einzige": Sources, Language, Context, Form, Bouvier (Bonn, Germany), 1999.
Iphigenie in Czestochowa: A Play in Five Acts, Kylix Press (Princeton, NJ), 2001.
Iphigenie in Manhattan: A Play in Five Acts, Kylix Press (Princeton, NJ), 2001.
Orest: A Play in Five Acts, Kylix Press (Princeton, NJ), 2001.
Iphigenie in Auschwitz: A Play in Five Acts, Kylix Press (Princeton, NJ), 2001.
Mountainwild, Kylix Press (Ann Arbor, MI), 1974.
Black Jesus, Kylix Press (Ann Arbor, MI), 1974.
A Gift of Nerve: Poems, 1966-1977, Kylix Press (Ann Arbor, MI), 1978.
Kate's Death: A Book of Odes, Ardis (Ann Arbor, MI), 1980.
The Boy and the Monarch: Sonnets and Variations, Ardis (Ann Arbor, MI), 1987.
Voiceprints, Ardis (Ann Arbor, MI), 1987.
Blackbird: A Book of Poems on the World and Work of Franz Kafka, Mellen Poetry Press (Lewiston, NY), 1993.
Valse Triste: Songs and Ballads, Mellen Poetry Press (Lewiston, NY), 1997.
Compass Card: One Hundred Villanelles, Mellen Poetry Press (Lewiston, NY), 2000.
Miklós Radnóti, Subway Stops: Fifty Poems, Ardis (Ann Arbor, MI), 1977.
Miklós Radnóti, The Complete Poetry, Ardis (Ann Arbor, MI), 1980.
(And editor) János Pilinszky, Metropolitan Icons: Selected Poems in Hungarian and English, Edwin Mellen Press (Lewiston, NY), 1995.
Contributor of poems to books, including Lyrics of Love: A Treasury of Romantic Poetry, Young Publication, 1972; The Ardis Anthology of New American Poetry, Ardis, 1977; Shaping: New Poems in Traditional Prosodies, Dryad, 1978; Anthology of Magazine Verse and Yearbook of American Poetry, Monitor Book, 1980, 1981, 1984, 1985; The Hopwood Anthology: Five Decades of American Poetry, University of Michigan Press (Ann Arbor, MI), 1981; A Year in Poetry: A Treasure of Classic and Modern Verses for Every Date on the Calendar, Crown (New York, NY), 1995; and Gods and Mortals: Modern Poems on Classical Myths, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2001. Contributor to periodicals, including Blue Unicorn, Denver Quarterly, Poetry, Partisan Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, College English, Colorado Quarterly, Kansas Quarterly, Kenyon Review, Literary Review, Modern Poetry Studies, Poetry Northwest, South Dakota Review, and Journal of New Jersey Poets.
Contributor of translations to Modern European Poetry, edited by Willis Barnstone, Bantam (New York, NY), 1966; Anna Akhmatova, Sochineniia tom vtoroi (title means "Works: Volume II"), Interlanguage Literary Associates, 1968; Baltic Literature, edited by Aleksis Rubulis, University of Notre Dame Press, 1970; Voices within the Ark: The Modern Jewish Poets, Avon (New York, NY), 1980; New Directions in Prose andPoetry, no. 42, New Directions (New York, NY), 1981; Against Forgetting: Twentieth-Century Poetry of Witness, W. W. Norton (New York, NY), 1993 and subsequent reprintings.
Contributor of articles and reviews to journals, including Kenyon Review, Saturday Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Germanic Review, Hölderlin-Jahrbuch, Journal of English and Germanic Philology, Language and Style, Michigan Germanic Studies, The Modern Language Review, Orbis litterarum, Publications of the Modern Language Association of America, and Texas Studies in Literature and Language. Associate editor, Russian Literature Triquarterly, 1972-84; founding editor, Michigan Germanic Studies, 1975-76; coeditor, Frankfurter Hölderlin-Ausgabe, beginning 1978.
WORK IN PROGRESS: A book on Goethe's poetic language; translations of Hungarian poems.
SIDELIGHTS: Emery E. George, an author and professor emeritus of German, has written numerous books on the writings of German poet Friedrich Hölderlin. His 1992 book Hölderlin and the Golden Chain of Homer: Including a Unknown Source focuses on the idea of the Great Chain, which is the belief that the universe is made up of a hierarchically connected cycle of creatures, ranging from lowest to highest. George connects this belief with the works of Hölderlin by referring to writings of Cardinal Bellarmino (published in 1615). George also offers evidence asserting that the golden chain found in the works of Homer is a metaphor for the Great Chain of Being. Timothy Torno, reviewing the book in Journal of English and Germanic Philology, maintained that while George clearly conducted excellent research on his topic, "in order to be convincing, the author needs to develop specific images in Hölderlin's own work."
Among George's numerous volumes of poetry is a collection of villanelles titled Compass Card: One Hundred Villanelles. This collection is seen as quite an accomplishment, as a proper villanelle is a very structured, somewhat difficult poem to compose. This type of poem, explained by E. J. Czerwinski in World Literature Today, includes structured repetition, which "augments the musicality of the form and provides the artist with a forum for his ideas." Czerwinski acknowledged that George's "range of subject matter is impressive," and noted that the collection exhibits the presence of "profound thought" behind its poetry.
In addition to publishing his own verse, George has also translated various works by other poets, among them Miklós Radnóti: The Complete Poetry. Of this book Times Literary Supplement reviewer Henry Gifford noted that George "has given five years to rendering the complete poems into an American English that nearly always rises to the occasion.... Aiming at 'versions that have power and beauty as English poems', with the closest possible fidelity to form, he makes Radnoti a genuine presence. This says much for the energy and truth of Radnoti's own writing which takes command of an attentive translator. It also speaks for the translator's devotion, exemplified further in his introduction and careful notes."
In 2001 George published a cycle of plays composed of Iphigenie in Manhattan, Iphigenie in Czestochowa, Orest, and Iphigenie in Auschwitz. (The actual writing of the four plays took place between August 1992 and January 1996.) The plays are a modern-day version of the myth of Iphigenia, the daughter of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra. The main character is a girl who has emigrated from the Ukraine to New York City, pursuing a career in acting. Iphigenie chose a hard-luck year to be in New York—1938—and an even worse year—1939—to return to Poland. Although World War II is beginning, Iphigenie stays in order to find her brother, Orest. In the final play, the brother and sister, along with Orest's friend Pavel Rózencveig (who is also Iphigenie's fiancé and corresponds to the Pylades of the classical Greek plays), end up working—and dying—in Auschwitz. Bernard F. Dick, reviewing the four-play cycle for World Literature Today, found the works "intellectually exhilarating" to read; they forced him to "rethink an ancient myth in terms of the most horrific event of the last century." However, Dick also surmised that the plays would fail on stage because of undeveloped characters and tiresome exposition.
George once commented to CA: "By background I am both a European and an American; by training and inclination, both a scholar and a writer. In my academic profession—German language, literature, and culture taught at the university level—great emphasis is placed upon the missionary nature of our activity. In scholarship I aim at finding and training the exceptional student; in my writing, on the other hand, I hope to reach people everywhere. Despite widespread feeling among the best of us that, as one distinguished poet recently put it, everyone writes poetry and yet no one buys or reads it, I remain impressed by the number of people in all walks of life who do in fact read, and read perceptively."
George told CA: "To try to field the question of what writers have influenced me: the list would have to be long. I do not wish to be remembered as a 'follower' of anyone. Like any real writer, I absorb influences from all quarters and strive to give originality in exchange. To name a few poets who have made an impact, though: like Friedrich Hölderlin (German, 1770-1843) and Miklós Radnóti (Hungarian, 1909-1944), I regard myself as a classicist contemporary. My deep admiration extends also to W. H. Auden, T. S. Eliot, W. S. Merwin, Richard Howard, Ezra Pound; my admirations extend from the Sumerians to the present. Among living novelists, I particularly admire Russell Banks, Saul Bellow, and William Styron. In the genre of drama, I learn from playwrights from Aeschylus to Arthur Miller. As Goethe said, we writers are what we owe to others; yet it is also urgently true that we are unrepeatable individuals."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Encyclopedia of Literary Translation into English, Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers (Chicago, IL), 2000.
Scharrar, Jack F., Avery Hopwood: His Life and Works, University of Michigan Press (Ann Arbor, MI), 1989.
Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism, volume 16, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1985.
Choice, December, 1972; March, 1978.
Journal of English and Germanic Philology, October, 1994, Timothy Torno, review of Hölderlin and the Golden Chain of Homer, pp. 618-620.
Library Journal, May 15, 1994, Daniel L. Guillory, review of Contemporary East European Poetry, p. 76.
Michigan Quarterly Review, winter, 1998, John R. Carpenter, review of Metropolitan Icons, p. 166-175.
Modern Language Review, October, 2001, p. 1138.
Publishers Weekly, June, 1977; February 28, 1994, review of Contemporary East European Poetry, p. 78.
Times Literary Supplement, October 10, 1980; July 13, 1984.
World Literature Today, winter, 1979; autumn, 1981; winter, 1982; autumn, 1983; summer, 1994, E. J. Czerwinski, review of Contemporary East European Poetry, p. 644; spring, 2001, E. J. Czerwinski, review of Compass Card, p. 337; spring, 2002, Bernard F. Dick, review of Iphigenie in Manhattan, Iphigenie in Czestochowa, Orest, and Iphigenie in Auschwitz, p. 155.