Michael Hamburger and the Time and Place of Late Work
This chapter considers the poet Michael Hamburger’s cultivation of the trope of lateness, especially in his book-length cycle of poems Late (1997), in the light of theories of ‘late style’ put forward by Theodor W. Adorno and, more recently, Edward Said. Hamburger makes a compelling subject for thinking about lateness—partly in relation to his person, but also to the thematization of aspects of lateness and the cultivation of an aura of Saidean lateness which bears comparison with Said’s categories. However, Hamburger’s poetry can usefully serve to interrogate Said’s categories and to pinpoint the political implications and blind spots inherent in his project. However, in reading Hamburger’s work under the sign of lateness, this chapter also illuminates aspects of this elusive and often underrated writer. Hamburger’s poetry, in its angular singularity, is a poetry of lateness in the fullest sense of the word, but also one which inhabits a time and place of its own.
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