Jonathan Franzen The Kraus Project

ISBN 13: 9780007518241

The Kraus Project

 
9780007518241: The Kraus Project

A GREAT AMERICAN WRITER'S CONFRONTATION WITH A GREAT EUROPEAN CRITIC-A PERSONAL AND INTELLECTUAL AWAKENING

A hundred years ago, the Viennese satirist Karl Kraus was among the most penetrating and prophetic writers in Europe: a relentless critic of the popular media's manipulation of reality, the dehumanizing machinery of technology and consumerism, and the jingoistic rhetoric of a fading empire. But even though his followers included Franz Kafka and Walter Benjamin, he remained something of a lonely prophet, and few people today are familiar with his work. Thankfully, Jonathan Franzen is one of them.

In The Kraus Project, Franzen not only presents his definitive new translations of Kraus but also annotates them spectacularly, with supplementary notes from the Kraus scholar Paul Reitter and the Austrian writer Daniel Kehlmann. Kraus was a notoriously cantankerous and difficult author, and in Franzen he has found his match: a novelist unafraid to voice unpopular opinions strongly, a critic capable of untangling Kraus's often dense arguments to reveal their relevance to contemporary America. Interwoven with Franzen's survey of today's cultural and technological landscape is an intensely personal recollection of the author's first year out of college, when he fell in love with Kraus.

Painstakingly wrought, strikingly original in form, The Kraus Project is a feast of thought, passion, and literature.

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About the Author:

Jonathan Franzen is the author of Purity and four other novels, most recently The Corrections and Freedom, and five works of nonfiction and translation, including Farther Away and The Kraus Project, all published by FSG. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the German Akademie der Künste, and the French Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.

Karl Kraus (1874–1936) was an Austrian satirist, playwright, poet, aphorist, and journalist. From 1899 until his death, he published the literary and political review Die Fackel.

From Publishers Weekly:

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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