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Fried, Erich


FRIED, ERICH (1921–1988), Austrian poet. Born in Vienna into an assimilated Jewish family, Fried was forced to flee to Great Britain after the annexation of Austria by Germany in 1938 and spent the remainder of his life in an English-speaking environment. In the late 1940s Fried worked intermittently for bbc radio until in 1952 he got full-time employment as a political commentator. Simultaneously he made various translations into German of English literature, including texts by John Donne, John Milton, Thomas Hardy, Rudyard Kipling, and T.S. Eliot, arousing the interest of German publishers and leading to the appearance of his own work. He published his first political poems in the collection called Die Vertriebenen (1941) and broached the subject of guilt in the poems of Deutschland (1944). The poems of Oesterreich (1945) followed in the formal footsteps of expressionistic antiwar verse. From the 1960s Fried also focused on European Jewry. He wrote poems about the Holocaust in Anfechtungen (1967) and Warngedichte (1964). These poems reflect the poet's attempts to come to terms with the Holocaust and his fear of another war. His only novel, Ein Soldat und ein Maedchen (1960), is a provocative love story involving an Allied soldier and a young female camp warden and reflects his harsh criticism of postwar Germany. In the following years Fried focused on contemporary social problems. Vietnam und (1966) contains shocking political poems using satirical elements and newspaper clippings to arouse the reader. In Höre, Israel (1967), a collection of anti-Zionist poems, Fried extended his political criticism to Israel and provoked heated discussion, as was the case with So kam ich unter die Deutschen (1977), which sought understanding for the motives of the German Red Army Faction terrorist group (Baader-Meinhof). Fried's collection of love poems, Liebesgedichte (1979), was very popular. Among his short prose works Kinder und Narren (1965) and Das Unmass aller Dinge (1982) are worthy of mention. Formal recognition came late in Fried's life. In 1973 he received the Austrian Wuerdigungspreis fuer Literatur and in 1980 the Preis der Stadt Wien fuer Literatur. Recognition from the Federal Republic of Germany came in the 1980s with the most prestigious West German literary award, the Georg-Buechner-Preis for his poetry and for his Shakespeare translations. Fried was a member of the German pen Center and from 1986 on corresponding member of the Deutsche Akademie fuer Sprache und Dichtung.


C. Jessen (ed.), Erich Fried: eine Chronik; Leben und Werk; das biographische Lesebuch (1998); G. Lampe, "Ichwill mich erinnern / an alles was man vergisst": Erich Fried, Biographie und Werk eines "deutschen Dichters" (1998); N. Luer: Formund Engagement: Untersuchungen zur Dichtung und Aesthetik Erich Frieds (2004).

[Ann-Kristin Koch (2nd ed.)]

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