The Kraus Project: Essays by Karl Kraus Kindle Edition
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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 ›
The most striking thing about the book is its spatial typography. The essays are presented in the original German (on left-hand pages) with Franzen's translation (on the facing right-hand pages). Because Kraus's German is so hard to translate, the reader is meant to (be able to) consult the original German as needed. But the largest part of the book (literally) is the footnotes that explain/elaborate/take off from the text. Since the footnotes are (of course) at the foot of the pages and not at the end, the book must have been a typographical nightmare for the editor. Since the footnotes are to the English text and so always begin on the right pages, this often results in blank space on the left-hand pages. And since several of the footnotes are extremely long, it also results in many pages (actually, 50) that are only "footnotes."
The typesetting and footnoting of the book is so unusual that I did a scan of the book, rounding to tenths of pages and then adding up. Here is the typesetting topology of the book: Of the roughly 300 content-ful pages of the book, 64 pages are German text. Consequently, 64 pages are English translation.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 ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Not informing. Not entertaining.
German text->English translation-> ridiculous obtuse commentary.
The Kraus Project is four bilingual (German and English) essays and a poem by the Austrian satirist (1874-1936). Read morePublished 7 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 9 months ago by snap shot hex
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 13 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 17 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 on April 7, 2014 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 on March 7, 2014 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
"How is the world ruled and led to war? Diplomats lie to journalists and believe these lies when they see them in print. Read morePublished on January 19, 2014 by Allen Smalling
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