This new critical biography of Friedrich Holderlin (1770-1843) is the first to appear for more than fifty years. In this time his status as one of the greatest European poets has become increasingly apparent - yet he is commonly considered a 'difficult' poet. A prime aim of this book is tomake Holderlin more accessible to the English-speaking reader. This comprehensive discussion of Holderlin's work includes close readings of many individual poems, with English translations of all quotations. The author, who is also concerned to locate Holderlin constantly in his times, recounts in a chronological framework the main line of the poet's life, hisdealings with his important contemporaries, his love for Susette Gontard, and the long years of loneliness and frustration. Holderlin is an archetypal figure, exciting fear and pity, a poet whose religion was founded on the conviction that his gods were absent, and whose modernity lies in his experience of absence.