Karl Kraus

The name of the Viennese satirist Karl Kraus will be known to critical theorists as a major influence on Adorno and Benjamin. However, his work, apparently very difficult to translate, is not widely available in English. I recently bought a second-hand copy of the now out-of-print ‘Karl Kraus Reader’ edited by Harry Zohn (Manchester: Carcanet Press, 1984) , which includes a selection of his prose (translated by Zohn) as well as poetry and a play, ‘The Last Days of Mankind’. What I found is a wonderful and hilarious writer whose insights into the idea of ‘progress’ and the role of the press clearly anticipate the Frankfurt School. Because Kraus’s work doesn’t seem to be available in English anywhere else, I decided to scan and upload a few of the more brilliant prose pieces so that interested parties can have a look. Unsure of how copyright works re: out-of-print books but if you do own it and want me to take this down, feel free to email me.

The Discovery of the North Pole

The Beaver Coat

Interview With a Dying Child

In These Great Times

A Minor Detail

Yolkwik Egg Substitute

Promotional Trips to Hell

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4 Responses to Karl Kraus

  1. Paul Daniels says:

    Hallo Tom,

    I am about to embark on an attempt to increase the amount of Karl Kraus which is available in English, and I am trying to identify and track down existing English translations, so thanks for this.



    • hektorrottweiler says:

      That sounds great, and if you can’t track down a copy of the Carcanet compilation, I’d be happy to scan the rest in for you if it would help, the English-speaking world needs more Kraus!

  2. PaulD says:

    I’m not sure how much detail to go in to here…

    The Last Days of Mankind is a major literary work, which should be available in English, but Kraus treats German like James Joyce treats English. Genius, but very hard to render. Apparently, the version in In These Great Times is quite a short excerpt. I haven’t read it, and don’t intend to, until I have translated it myself. My intention is to approach it in steps. The penultimate one will be to translate Weltgericht/Judgement Day, which is a collection of Kraus’ essays about WWI, published in his journal Die Fackel during the war, and published as a book in 1919. He was writing The Last Days of Mankind about the same subject at the same time. Before that, I’ll do some shorter pieces which have already been translated, and compare the translations, to see whether I really can contribute anything of value.
    I happened to read Biberpelz/Beaver Coat yesterday, and I haven’t yet read Zohn’s translation, so that could be a start.

    Right. Having made this declaration, I’ve put myself under pressure to produce… I’ll get back to you.

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