Synopses & Reviews
One hundred years after Austrian satirist Karl Kraus began writing his dramatic masterpiece, The Last Days of Mankind
remains as powerfully relevant as the day it was first published. Krausandrsquo;s play enacts the tragic trajectory of the First World War, when mankind raced toward self-destruction by methods of modern warfare while extolling the glory and ignoring the horror of an allegedly andldquo;defensiveandrdquo; war. This volume is the first to present a complete English translation of Krausandrsquo;s towering work, filling a major gap in the availability of Viennese literature from the era of the War to End All Wars.
Bertolt Brecht hailed The Last Days as the masterpiece of Viennese modernism. In the apocalyptic drama Kraus constructs a textual collage, blending actual quotations from the Austrian armyandrsquo;s call to arms, peopleandrsquo;s responses, political speeches, newspaper editorials, and a range of other sources. Seasoning the drama with comic invention and satirical verse, Kraus reveals how bungled diplomacy, greedy profiteers, Big Business complicity, gullible newsreaders, and, above all, the sloganizing of the press brought down the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In the dramatization of sensationalized news reports, inurement to atrocities, and openness to war as remedy, todayandrsquo;s readers will hear the echo of the fateful voices Kraus recorded as his homeland descended into self-destruction.
Fritz Wittels (1880-1950) was a pioneering Viennese psychoanalyst, the first biographer of Freud (1924), and intermittently friend and rival of Freud himself, of Wilhelm Stekel, and of their famous satirical adversary, Karl Kraus. Towards the end of his life, while living and practising as an analyst in the United States, Wittels wrote a two-hundred-page memoir of his early life and career in Vienna. The typescript memoirs, held in the archives of the Abraham Brill Library, New York, are published here for the first time, accompanied by a range of little-known illustrations. Incomplete in places, they have been deftly edited, contextualised and introduced by Edward Timms, whose many valuable explanatory notes include the identification of the 'child woman' of the title. In his memoirs Wittels writes frankly and vividly about the erotic sub-culture of fin-de-siecle Vienna and about early controversies within the Psychoanalytic Society. His picture of the interaction between the two is startlingly original, and will appeal not only to historians of psychoanalysis, but to anyone interested in the Viennese cultural avant-garde. The erotic triangles in which Wittels, Kraus and Freud were involved are shown to have impinged directly on the activities of the famous Society. Freud himself plays a crucial role in the story, and the book as a whole is of exceptional importance for the origins of psychoanalysis.
Krausandrsquo;s iconic WWI drama, a satirical indictment of the glory of war, now in English in its entirety for the first time
About the Author
The Austrian Jewish author Karl Kraus (1874andndash;1936) was the foremost German-language satirist of the twentieth century. As editor of the journal Die Fackel (The Torch) he conducted a sustained critique of propaganda and the press, expressed through polemical essays, witty aphorisms, and resonant poems. Edward Timms, founding director of the University of Sussex Centre for German-Jewish Studies, is best known for his two-volume study Karl Krausandmdash;Apocalyptic Satirist. The title of his memoirs, Taking Up the Torch, reflects his long-standing interest in Krausandrsquo;s journal. Fred Bridgham is the author of wide-ranging studies in German literature, history, and the history of ideas. His translations of lieder and opera include Hans Werner Henzeandrsquo;s The Prince of Homburg for performance by English National Opera.