Passion, obsession, addiction, vision, and despair — these are just a few of the themes explored by Mitchell Parry in this poignant portrait of Austrian poet Georg Trakl. Born in Saltzburg in the second half of the 19th century, Trakl was severely addicted at an early age. He smoked opium and later took up chloroform, alcohol, and cocaine. He was passionately obsessed with his younger sister, witnessed the bodies of partisans hanging in trees, and attempted suicide on more than one occasion. He died at the age of twenty-four, leaving behind a legacy of poems that capture the anxiety, passion, and exhaustion of early twentieth-century Austria and the years leading up to the First World War.
Using Trakl as a lens, Parry explores the world of Freud, Wittgenstein, Rilke, Klimpt, Kakoschka, Loos, Kandinsky, and Klee, a time when Europe is drawn through the crucible of Modernism. In this blend of fact and fiction, poetry and prose, Parry flirts with darkness, plunging into a sordid and dangerous world and exploring the complex relationship between poetry and extremity. The result is both chilling and glorious.
Pub date: September 18, 2008