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The Kraus Project

The Kraus Project

The Kraus Project

By Jonathan Franzen
Translated by Frank Wedekind

The Kraus Project is thought-provoking, challenging, and entertaining. Kraus's carbolic bons mots can be very funny, and Franzen and co.'s annotations--some pages long--create a lively dialogue with both the text and each other. The book is a fluid and interactive experience, demanding full engagement from the reader.”―Zsuzsi Gartner, The Globe and Mail

“Engrossing, highly original . . . As a declared enemy of the easy response in an instant-access culture, Franzen finds in the unduly neglected Kraus a model of how to provoke readers while at the same time getting them to do some work.”―Edmund Fawcett, The New York Times Book Review

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 farsighted writers in Europe. In his self-published magazine, Die Fackel, Kraus brilliantly attacked the popular media's manipulation of reality, the dehumanizing machinery of technology and consumer capitalism, and the jingoistic rhetoric of a fading empire. But even though he had a fervent following, which included Franz Kafka and Walter Benjamin, he remained something of a lonely prophet, and few people today are familiar with his work. Luckily, Jonathan Franzen is one of them.

In The Kraus Project, Franzen, whose "calm, passionate critical authority" has been praised in The New York Times Book Review, not only presents his definitive new translations of Kraus but annotates them spectacularly, with supplementary notes from the Kraus scholar Paul Reitter and the Austrian author Daniel Kehlmann. Kraus was a notoriously cantankerous and difficult writer, 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.  

While Kraus is lampooning the iconic German poet and essayist Heinrich Heine and celebrating his own literary hero, the Austrian playwright Johann Nestroy, Franzen is annotating Kraus the way Kraus annotated others, surveying today's cultural and technological landscape with fearsome clarity, and giving us a deeply personal recollection of his first year out of college, when he fell in love with Kraus's work. Painstakingly wrought, strikingly original in form, The Kraus Project is a feast of thought, passion, and literature.

336 pages
Text in German and English
Picador, 2014
5.5 x 0.74 x 8.5 inches
ISBN 9781250056030
Theory, Aesthetics

$18.00 $18.00