The Kraus Project: Essays by Karl Kraus

Jonathan Franzen, Author, Karl Kraus, Author
Edited and trans. from the German by Jonathan Franzen, with assistance from Paul Reitter and Daniel Kehlmann. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $28 (304p) ISBN 978-0-374-18221-2
Reviewed on: 09/09/2013
Release date: 10/01/2013
Hardcover - 318 pages - 978-0-00-751744-2
Open Ebook - 336 pages - 978-0-374-71056-9
Ebook - 300 pages - 978-1-4434-2364-9
Paperback - 318 pages - 978-1-250-05603-0
Hardcover - 336 pages - 978-0-00-751824-1
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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.)
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