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Franzen (Freedom) approaches his latest project with characteristic ambition: to provide an accessible translation of key essays by the early 19th-century Austrian critic Karl Kraus (1874–1936), explain and contextualize Kraus's biting satire, come to terms with the young man he was when he first encountered the self-styled wrathful prophet, and draw contemporary relevance from Kraus's work. The result is clear, polished, and often funny—no small accomplishment, given Kraus's notoriously difficult to translate prose. Franzen has similar aims; he leaves to Reitter the scholarly legwork of explaining obscure cultural references and providing analysis, and instead uses the copious footnotes to provide current analogies for Kraus's targets and reflect on his own studies in Germany, which lead to meditations on his upbringing, relationships, literary aspirations, and search for a literary father. Several footnotes extend for pages, turning Kraus into background music for scholarly speculation and ruminations. When the narratives coalesce, the spasm of pleasure amply repays the reader's dogged attention, revealing two literary minds operating at the peak of their maturity and strength. Agent: Susan Golomb, Susan Golomb Agency. (Oct.)
It is the achievement of The Kraus Project to provide a solid picture of what makes Kraus incomparable and, paradoxically enough, relevant. Franzen builds a very effective case that Kraus’s criticisms of media technology—particularly of the way that it deformed language and thought—pull him out of the Vienna of a hundred years ago and reveal him to be a timely visionary. Yet as valid as Franzen’s case for revisiting Kraus may be, The Kraus Project shows him as a more fascinating figure than that—a writer whose words are intransigent and dated and oddly fresh, all at once. —Eric BanksSee all Editorial Reviews
This is an odd, idiosyncratic book. It consists of two longish essays by the Viennese critic Karl Kraus, two shorter after pieces on one of the essays, the one on Heinrich Heine,... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Tony Covatta
Well- known for brilliantly insightful novels depicting the stressed state of contemporary society (Freedom, The Corrections), Jonathan Franzen here retrieves through translation... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Craig Nessan
a beautiful publication of a classic German man of letters - the bi-lingual format makes it an excellent gift for friendsPublished 18 months ago by David E Bentley
Franzen is noted for verbose novels which few except editors and literati appreciate. He has chosen to translate some prose, mostly about Heinrich Heine and that incredibly... Read morePublished 19 months ago by N. Ravitch
Here Franzen has written a story got by past, but surely actual, confirming him-self as one of better writers of today. Read morePublished 20 months ago by Edoardo Angeloni
This is an odd book. I may be the only person who read it b/c it is about Kraus, rather than b/c it was produced by Franzen. Read morePublished 22 months ago by James Klagge
"Franzen's translation is the disease for which Kraus is the cure." Paul Werner, Editor, WOID, a journal of visual language.Published 23 months ago by Paul Werner
I expected more excerpts from The Fackel but the NY Time book review was misleading. However, anything by and about Kraus is better than nothing. . .