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A Human Kafka

Gabriel Josipovici, 5 March 1981

The World of Franz Kafka 
edited by J.P. Stern.
Weidenfeld, 263 pp., £9.95, January 1981, 0 297 77845 5
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... art. Chief among these were the voices of Walter Benjamin, Maurice Blanchot, Marthe Robert and Erich Heller. Heller’s essay on The Castle in The Disinherited Mind (1952) marked a real turning point. He argued persuasively that it was folly to go on debating whether Kafka was religious or anti-religious, Marxist or ...


Daniel Johnson, 20 June 1996

The Dear Purchase: A Theme in German Modernism 
by J.P. Stern.
Cambridge, 445 pp., £40, February 1995, 0 521 43330 4
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... to prevent the departure to Chicago of another exiled native of Prague, Stern’s lifelong friend Erich Heller, whose postwar rehabilitation of German literature and thought, The Disinherited Mind, gave Stern ‘the pattern and the inspiration’ for his own work. Unlike the older Heller, however, Stern’s ...

Start thinking

Michael Wood: The aphorisms of Karl Kraus, 7 March 2002

Dicta and Contradicta 
by Karl Kraus, translated by Jonathan McVity.
Illinois, 208 pp., £18.50, May 2001, 0 252 02648 9
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... own – there was no one else on the bench. ‘His vision was never unsteadied by scepticism,’ Erich Heller wrote. Walter Benjamin asserted that ‘Kraus never offered an argument that had not engaged his whole person. Thus he embodies the secret of authority: never to disappoint.’ It’s easy to see why unsteady, disappointed people would be ...
A Mania for Sentences 
by D.J. Enright.
Chatto, 211 pp., £12.50, July 1983, 0 7011 2662 0
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The Mirror of Criticism: Selected Reviews 1977-1982 
by Gabriel Josipovici.
Harvester, 181 pp., £16.95, June 1983, 0 7108 0499 7
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In the Age of Prose: Literary and Philosophical Essays 
by Erich Heller.
Cambridge, 268 pp., £20, January 1984, 0 521 25493 0
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... Enright’s reviews are more conspicuously abroad thoughts from home than Josipovici’s or Heller’s, and ‘the British reader’, named or implied, is often summoned up and flattered as a necessary moderating agency in a world where foreign (and in particular German) writers have a seemingly innate tendency to fret their brains with metaphysics or ...


J.P. Stern, 30 August 1990

Unmodern Observations 
by Friedrich Nietzsche, translated by Herbert Golder, Gary Brown and William Arrowsmith.
Yale, 402 pp., £30, February 1990, 0 300 04311 2
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The Importance of Nietzsche 
by Erich Heller.
Chicago, 200 pp., £23.95, February 1989, 0 226 32637 3
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... you can.’ The cautious friendship between the two university colleagues is the subject of one of Erich Heller’s most accomplished essays: here, alas, the relationship is barely mentioned. ‘In “Schopenhauer as Educator” my innermost history, my becoming is inscribed. Above all, my promise!’ Nietzsche writes in Ecce homo; which is a way of ...

A Life of Its Own

Jonathan Coe, 24 February 1994

The Kenneth Williams Diaries 
edited by Russell Davies.
HarperCollins, 827 pp., £20, June 1993, 0 00 255023 7
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... Shaffer’s The Public Eye; he sustained close friendships with Robert Bolt and the German scholar Erich Heller, and was never happier than when alone in his flat listening to Brahms and Fauré or reading Eliot and Tennyson. A keen subscriber to the TLS and occasional contributor to the Listener and Spectator, he could be very free with his literary ...


J.P. Stern, 3 November 1983

The Sacred Threshold: A Life of Rainer Maria Rilke 
by J.F. Hendry.
Carcanet, 184 pp., £9.95, July 1983, 0 85635 369 8
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Rilke: sein Leben, seine Welt, sein Werk 
by Wolfgang Leppmann.
Scherz Verlag, 483 pp., £11, May 1981, 3 502 18407 0
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Rainer Maria Rilke: Leben und Werk im Bild 
edited by Ingeborg Schnack.
Insel Verlag, 270 pp., £2.55, May 1977, 3 458 01735 6
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... the outlines of the portrait; and again, both the strenuousness and the charm of the poet whom Erich Heller called ‘the St Francis of the Will to Power’ are reflected in his poetry. No contemporary names occur in it, yet the people he met make up a name-dropper’s paradise. To one side of the inhabitants of the Almanach de Gotha, they included ...

How to be Viennese

Adam Phillips, 5 March 1987

Karl Kraus: Apocalyptic Satirist 
by Edward Timms.
Yale, 468 pp., £20, October 1986, 0 300 03611 6
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Half-Truths and One-and-a-Half-Truths: Selected Aphorisms of Karl Kraus 
translated by Harry Zohn.
Carcanet, 128 pp., £3.94, May 1986, 0 85635 580 1
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... have been made for the importance of his work – in English most notably by George Steiner and Erich Heller – but he is known, if at all in England, as an influential contemporary of Wittgenstein and Freud, and as a writer of aphorisms. Auden, for example, in his Faber anthology has 24 entries by Kraus. So Harry Zohn’s Selected Aphorisms, from ...
The Paradoxes of Delusion: Wittgenstein, Schreber, and the Schizophrenic Mind 
by Louis Sass.
Cornell, 177 pp., £23.50, June 1995, 0 8014 9899 6
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Madness and Modernism: Insanity in the Light of Modern Art, Literature and Thought 
by Louis Sass.
Basic Books, 593 pp., £18.99, November 1993, 0 465 04312 7
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... random facts or objects take on an unspecifiable significance, and in Modernism produces what Erich Heller (talking about Rilke) described as ‘the inflationary increase of significances’ – meanings and symbols loose from their moorings, which point reflexively to meaningfulness and the symbolic. Then again, schizophrenics may have an advantage ...

Paul de Man’s Abyss

Frank Kermode, 16 March 1989

Wartime Journalism, 1939-1943 
by Paul de Man and Werner Hamacher, edited by Neil Hertz and Thomas Keenan.
Nebraska, 399 pp., £28, October 1988, 9780803216846
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Critical Writings 1953-1978 
by Paul de Man, edited by Lindsay Waters.
Minnesota, 228 pp., $39.50, April 1989, 0 8166 1695 7
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Paul de Man: Deconstruction and the Critique of Aesthetic Ideology 
by Christopher Norris.
Routledge, 218 pp., £25, October 1988, 0 415 90079 4
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Reading de Man Reading 
edited by Lindsay Waters and Wlad Godzich.
Minnesota, 312 pp., $39.50, April 1989, 0 8166 1660 4
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... himself in view: and in essence this is the best defence that could be offered. Reviewing books by Erich Heller and Ronald Gray, he remarks that both authors ‘too readily call “German” a general feature of the romantic and post-romantic intellect’, just as he had done himself.The most intense of these speculations concern Mallarmé and ...

Naughty Children

Christopher Turner: Freud’s Free Clinics, 6 October 2005

Freud’s Free Clinics: Psychoanalysis and Social Justice 1918-38 
by Elizabeth Ann Danto.
Columbia, 348 pp., £19.50, May 2005, 0 231 13180 1
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... of their overall philosophy of life. It is a shame that Danto chooses not to venture there. Peter Heller, a former professor of German and Comparative Literature, was analysed as a child by Anna Freud and paints a different picture of this era in his memoir. His mother was friendly with many left-wing analysts, and ...

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