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The Kraus Project: Essays by Karl Kraus (English and German Edition) Hardcover – October 1, 2013
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Top Customer Reviews
Franzen translated two long essays by Karl Kraus ('Heine and the consequences' and 'Nestroy and posterity'), two shorter essays ('Afterword to "Heine and the consequences"' and 'Between two strands of life: final word') and a poem ('Let no one ask ...'). He was assisted by two people--Kraus scholar Paul Reitter (professor at Ohio State University), and the Austrian novelist Daniel Kehlmann. It is a bilingual edition, and there are incredibly copious footnotes by Franzen, Reitter and Kehlmann. Some of the footnotes explain what Kraus was getting at (cultural allusions, etc.). A lot of the footnotes are really autobiographical essays by Franzen describing his time in Germany in the early 80s where he first studied Kraus and became enamored of him.
The book came about a week ago, and as I read I got this awful, sinking 'the emperor has no clothes' feeling that just got stronger the more I read. I'm not talking about Jonathan Franzen and his collaborators. I'm talking about Kraus himself.
I've heard forever that Kraus is untranslatable, but what that really seems to mean is, he's almost unreadable no matter what the language.Read more ›
It's nice to be proven wrong, though, and if anything, this shows how strong a writer Franzen is. The book translates two long essays by Kraus (along with two afterwords and a poem), retaining the original German on the left page with the English translation on the right. Franzen, helped substantially by Paul Reitter and Daniel Kehlmann, then annotates the text, with footnotes that far outstretch the original text.
This is a blessing, really. Kraus divides his essays lambasting and lauding two writers of his era, and while he has some sharp turns of phrase and certainly a wry wit, he also writes a lot of sentences that are dense as meteorite (some of which neither Franzen, Reitter, nor Kehlmann can parse out). Kraus is also given to a bad blend of topicality and vagueness, being either too specific or not enough, with sentences like "...the milder jarring of his times denied his response the consciousness of its finality--that blessed incentive to seal revenge on the material in his enjoyment of form." You have to know exactly who he's talking about, what the person he's talking about has done, and then you have to infer what Kraus means from his cryptic hinting. 100 years later, Franzen invites us to skip this line.
The reason for the book now is that Franzen sees a great similarity between Kraus' writings about feuilletons (writers of travel fluff, today's Travel + Leisure contributors) and today's blog culture.Read more ›
The translator(s) deserves praise for attempting a resurrection of attention to Kraus. A few of Franzen's apt translations from the first essay:
"Nothing is more important to journalism than restoring the gloss, again and again, to the glaze of corruption."
"She' a lazy Susan of the mind"
"... an observer who in opulent adjectives amply compensates for what Nature denied him in nouns..."
If you wants more Kraus: delve into Jonathan McVity's translations of Dicta and Contradicta. In the meantime: thanks and praise to Franzen for these fresh translations.
The above is just one of the many aphorisms attributed to a Viennese thinker and journalist called Karl Kraus. His writing was a force to be reckoned with, but his personality was so acerbic and his wit so astringent that most of what he said consisted of books he had published himself, and articles he wrote for his own journal, DIE FACKEL. When he was born, the Austro-Hungarian Empire was nearing the peak of its power; he died just a couple of years before Nazi jackboots marched across his Austria. Author Jonathan (THE CORRECTIONS) Franzel provided the lengthy running commentary to a selection of Kraus's writing, most of it two long articles about the mid-19th Century German poet Heinrich Heine, whom Kraus felt overrated and tried to disparage, and Heine's near-contemporary, Austrian playwright Johann Nestroy, whose reputation Kraus thought overly trivialized and tried to boost.
Franzen's commentary is absolutely necessary, and useful; but his efforts are somewhat undercut by the fact that professional translators, not he, made the translation from German into English, a difficult task for even the best scholars. The book's format consists of the original German on left-handed pages and the English translation to the right, with Franzel's commentary appearing as footnote and sometimes overwhelming the original texts.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The Kraus Project is four bilingual (German and English) essays and a poem by the Austrian satirist (1874-1936). Read morePublished 2 months ago by Martina A. Nicolls
Freud could dig this curiosity: why don't you? For me the fundamental Heine insight is that the devil has shuffled the cards so thoroughly that it will be impossible to decide who... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Bruce P. Barten
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 7 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 11 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 22 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 23 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 on February 3, 2014 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 on November 19, 2013 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 on November 12, 2013 by Paul Werner