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Dan Jacobson

3 December 1981
K: A Biography of Kafka 
by Ronald Hayman.
Weidenfeld, 349 pp., £16.50, October 1981, 0 297 77996 6
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Stories 1904-1924 
by Franz Kafka, translated by J.A. Underwood.
Macdonald, 271 pp., £7.50, November 1981, 9780354046398
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... for ever intolerable. As Jorge Luis Borges puts it, in his introduction to the new translation by J.A. Underwood of the stories published in Kafka’s lifetime: ‘His stories ... presuppose a religious conscience, specifically a Jewish conscience ...’ He ‘saw his work as an act of faith, and he did not want it to discourage other men.’ However, in ...

Bombshells

Mark Hertsgaard

5 August 1993
On the Home Front: The Cold War Legacy of the Hanford Nuclear Site 
by Michele Stenehjem Gerber.
Nebraska, 312 pp., £33.25, January 1993, 0 8032 2145 2
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The Nuclear Peninsula 
by Françoise Zonabend, translated by J.A. Underwood.
Cambridge, 138 pp., £19.95, April 1993, 0 521 41321 4
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... I had just turned 22 when the connection between having sex and safely storing nuclear waste was first made clear to me. I was writing a book about the American nuclear establishment, and one day found myself sitting across a conference table from a top executive at Combustion-Engineering, a large multinational corporation that sold nuclear reactors ...

Double Thought

Michael Wood: Kafka in the Office

20 November 2008
Franz Kafka: The Office Writings 
edited by Stanley Corngold, Jack Greenberg and Benno Wagner, translated by Eric Patton and Ruth Hein.
Princeton, 404 pp., £26.95, November 2008, 978 0 691 12680 7
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... piece, renders the word as ‘hopeless’. Willa and Edwin Muir have ‘dismal and cheerless’, J.A. Underwood has ‘bleak’. I also rather like ‘desolate’ myself, but all of these words point in the right direction. Trostlos can also be used of a dreary landscape, and in this sense calls up another curious logical riddle in The Castle, one of ...

There is no cure

Michael Wood: Freud’s Guesswork

6 July 2006
The Penguin Freud Reader 
edited by Adam Phillips.
Penguin, 570 pp., £14.99, January 2006, 0 14 118743 3
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... the explanation is worth having. Others translators try for direct alternatives: ‘charging’ (J.A. Underwood, in Mass Psychology and Other Writings); ‘investment’ (Helena Ragg-Kirkby, in An Outline of Psychoanalysis); ‘investment’ and ‘charge’ (Shaun Whiteside, in On Murder, Mourning and Melancholia). Similar worries arise with the trio ...
17 December 1981
Auto da Fé 
by Elias Canetti, translated by C.V. Wedgwood.
Cape, 464 pp., £7.95, January 1982, 0 224 00568 5
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The Tongue Set Free: Remembrance of a European Childhood 
by Elias Canetti, translated by Joachim Neugroschel.
Continuum, 268 pp., $12.95, June 1979, 0 8164 9103 8
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The Human Province 
by Elias Canetti, translated by Joachim Neugroschel.
Continuum, 281 pp., $12.95, June 1978, 0 8164 9335 9
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Crowds and Power 
by Elias Canetti, translated by Carol Stewart.
Penguin, 575 pp., £2.95, October 1978, 0 14 003616 4
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Kafka’s Other Trial: The Letters to Felice 
by Elias Canetti, translated by Christopher Middleton.
Marion Boyars, 121 pp., £5.95, October 1976, 0 7145 1136 6
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The Voices of Marrakesh: A Record of a Visit 
by Elias Canetti, translated by J.A. Underwood.
Marion Boyars, 103 pp., £5.50, January 1978, 0 7145 2579 0
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The Conscience of Words 
by Elias Canetti, translated by Joachim Neugroschel.
Continuum, 246 pp., $12.95, May 1979, 0 8164 9334 0
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... her favourite character was Shakespeare’s Coriolanus – was like a lover with several rivals. Jealousy was an early and lasting obsession. With her half-reluctant connivance he learned to dispose ruthlessly of his mother’s admirers, and later came to feel that his childish and adolescent egotism had wilfully failed to realise her need for another ...

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