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Eva Hesse Archive

About the Archive

Eva Hesse BücherThe Eva Hesse Archive of Modernism and Literary Translation was established in 2010 to preserve and make available to researchers, faculty, and students the work of Eva Hesse (1925-2020), one of Germany’s most distinguished translators and acute critics of Anglo-American literary modernism. In 2015 the Archive moved from its original home at the Bavarian American Academy on Karolinenplatz to its current location in the Department of English and American Studies at Schellingstraße 3.

The Archive material includes correspondence, translations, offprints, clippings, typescripts, galley proofs, photographs, drafts, notes, and academic papers documenting Eva Hesse's long and fascinating career as a translator, critic, and scholar. One aspect of the archive that makes it particularly important for scholars of modernism in general, and Ezra Pound in particular, is the collection of letters between Hesse and Pound. In addition to the Pound-Hesse correspondence, the Archive contains numerous volumes on and by Anglo-American modernist writers, as well as hundreds of letters Hesse exchanged with publishers and literary scholars from all over the world, including Hugh Kenner and Guy Davenport.

Plan your visit

The Archive’s holdings have been only partially catalogued. If you are planning a research visit or have questions about the availability of specific items, please email the curatorial staff at: anna.fluegge@lrz.uni-muenchen.de or manlio.dellamarca@lmu.de

Eva Hesse: A Life for Literature

The author and translator Eva Hesse dedicated much of her long life to the study and translation of modern Anglo-American literature. Born in Berlin on March 2, 1925, Eva Hesse started enjoying language and literature at an early age. She grew up in London, then lived in Berlin before moving to Munich. She is the author of many essays and books, of translations and editions of a staggering number of Anglo-American Modernists, but also of political theory, such as Die Wurzeln der Revolution:Theorien der individuellen und der kollektiven Freiheit (1974) and Die Achse Avantgarde—Faschismus (1991). The poets she translated include Langston Hughes, Marianne Moore, Robert Frost, John Robinson Jeffers, and, especially, Ezra Pound. Among the many books she published about this author are Ezra Pound: Von Sinn und Wahnsinn; Ezra Pound; Ezra Pound Lesebuch; and “Ich liebe, also bin ich”: Der unbekannte Ezra Pound. It was with Heinz Ickstadt and Manfred Pfister with whom she embarked on her final project, a new definitive translation of the complete Cantos, Ezra Pound: Die Cantos, published in 2012.

In post-World War II Germany, the press was highly critical of Ezra Pound. Because of his support of Mussolini and the fascist movement, Pound was held at St. Elizabeths Hospital in Washington, DC. In 1950, Eva Hesse wrote a radio program on Ezra Pound for the Bavarian Broadcasting Network, titled “Gegen die Strömung der Zeit.” When the poet e.e. cummings wrote her a letter asking that she send Pound her radio program, she complied. Cummings was not the only writer who was eager to help Pound, who in turn had helped so many writers, both professionally and personally.

Eva Hesse’s sending the program started an encompassing correspondence of nearly 200 letters and a life-long friendship with the famous writer. Both she and her family (“Eva’s pa”) are also mentioned in the Cantos. Hesse and Pound met for the first time soon after Pound’s release in 1958 and his subsequent return to the Brunnenburg near Meran. Pound also repeatedly visited Hesse and her husband in their book-filled Munich apartment. In addition to these meetings, Pound and Hesse continued exchanging letters in which they discussed, among other topics, modern literature, politics, and Pound’s Cantos, and Hesse’s translations of the Cantos.

Eva Hesse was awarded numerous literary prizes (the Johann-Heinrich-Voß-Preis für Übersetzung in 1968 and Preis der Leipziger Buchmesse in 2013, and others), and, in 1993, she received an honorary doctorate from the University of Munich. Her work was remarkable in many ways: her innumerable books, her congenial translations, her correspondences and friendships with seminal poets and critics such as Langston Hughes and Hugh Kenner. She passed away on March 30, 2020, four weeks after her ninety-fifth birthday, in Munich. She will be missed.

Anna Flügge

Praise for the Eva Hesse Archive

haynes“I should note first of all that I was not making use of the full resources of the Archive; I concentrated solely on Ezra Pound, the main focus of my current research. For the decade of the 1950s, the collection of letters between Pound and Hesse is virtually unparalleled in its richness, both for its extensive range (there are scores of letters) and for the wide and important variety of topics discussed in them. As Pound’s German translator, Hesse was uniquely placed to put to Pound important questions about the meaning of various textual cruces, and Pound answered them patiently and helpfully. Moreover, Hesse translated selections from the entire range of Pound’s writings up to that point, so the letters are an invaluable resource for scholars working on all periods of Pound’s writing.”

Kenneth Haynes, Professor of Comparative Literature, Brown University. Professor Haynes conducted research at the Archive in 2018 and is currently preparing a new critical edition of Ezra Pound’s Pisan Cantos for Oxford University Press.

 

burns“The letters from Pound to Hesse during his confinement in St. Elizabeths, and the correspondence Hesse had with his daughter, Mary de Rachewiltz (often referred to in her letters to Kenner), are an infinitely important source of information on The Cantos and on Pound’s life. The Eva Hesse Archive takes its place along with the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library of Yale University and the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas Austin as one of the preeminent archives for research into Ezra Pound and other literary modernists.”

Edward M. Burns, Professor of English, William Paterson University of New Jersey. Professor Burns is the author of Questioning Minds: The Letters of Guy Davenport and Hugh Kenner and conducted research at the archive in 2013.

Other links of interest

Eva Hesse’s FAZ interview (in German)

Eva Hesse’s Wikipedia entry (in German)

Archive Curators

anna.fluegge@lmu.de (American Studies, LMU Munich)

manlio.dellamarca@lmu.de (American Studies, LMU Munich)

Address

Eva Hesse Archive of Modernism and Literary Translations

Department of English and American Studies

Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich

Schellingstr. 3 (VG)

Room 213

80799 Munich