Benn, Gottfried (gôtˈfrēt bĕn) [key], 1886–1956, German poet and critic, a physician. His early verse and poetic dramas, such as Der Vermessungsdirigent [the surveyor] (1919), were strongly expressionistic and even nihilistic. His later poems, among them the collection Statische Gedichte (1948), and his autobiography, Doppelleben [double life] (1950), reflect his ambivalent though ultimately negative reactions to the National Socialist era. Benn's essays on aesthetics and politics are well known, and his fictional works, including Der Ptolemäer (1949), are more philosophical prose than tales.
See Primal Vision, (1961) his selected writings; studies by J. M. Ritchie (1973) and R. Alter (1976).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.