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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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... Karl Kraus had many enemies, but his friends and admirers are something of a liability too. They insist on his unremitting probity and passion for justice, but his justice was all his 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 ...

No one hates him more

Joshua Cohen: Franzen on Kraus, 7 November 2013

The Kraus Project 
by Jonathan Franzen.
Fourth Estate, 318 pp., £18.99, October 2013, 978 0 00 751743 5
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... brought him, if his public statements are any indication, nothing but misery. His new book, The Kraus Project, returns him to the early 1980s, before he wrote The Corrections and Freedom – two internationally bestselling epics of middle-class white America struggling with marriage, parenthood, illness and climate change – and his two earlier, somewhat ...

How to be Viennese

Adam Phillips, 5 March 1987

Karl KrausApocalyptic 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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... In Fin de Siècle Vienna, politics had become the least convincing of the performing arts. Life, Kraus wrote, had become an effort that deserved a better cause. By the turn of the century, it was not politicians but actors, painters, writers and musicians who had captured the imagination of the upper-middle classes ...

Vienna discovers its past

Peter Pulzer, 1 August 1985

Refugee Scholars in America: Their Impact and their Experiences 
by Lewis Coser.
Yale, 351 pp., £25, October 1984, 0 300 03193 9
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The Viennese Enlightenment 
by Mark Francis.
Croom Helm, 176 pp., £15.95, May 1985, 0 7099 1065 7
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The Jews of Vienna, 1867-1914: Assimilation and Identity 
by Marsha Rozenblit.
SUNY, 368 pp., $39.50, July 1984, 0 87395 844 6
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... could the Cambridge or LSE of this period be considered provincial, however tenuous their grasp of Karl Kraus or Hugo von Hofmannsthal. What is true is that the capitals of the life of the mind were permanently transferred, to London, New York, Chicago and – whether we like it or not – Los Alamos. The intellectual successor states of the Habsburg ...

Schools of History

Walter Laqueur, 26 September 1991

Hitler and Stalin: Parallel Lives 
by Alan Bullock.
HarperCollins, 1187 pp., £20, June 1991, 0 00 215494 3
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Stalin: Breaker of Nations 
by Robert Conquest.
Weidenfeld, 346 pp., £18.99, September 1991, 0 297 81194 0
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... About Hitler I can’t think of anything to say,’ thus Karl Kraus in a famous aside in 1935. But a great deal has been said about him ever since and no one has been better at saying it than Alan Bullock. His Hitler: A Study in Tyranny, published in 1952, is still the best biography, and one of the best books on the Nazi phenomenon in general ...

The Fug o’Fame

David Goldie: Hugh MacDiarmid’s letters, 6 June 2002

New Selected Letters 
by Hugh MacDiarmid, edited by Dorian Grieve.
Carcanet, 572 pp., £39.95, August 2001, 1 85754 273 8
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... then what is to be gained by reminding us of the tangle out of which it was salvaged? If, as Karl Kraus suggested, ‘a poem is good until one knows who wrote it,’ is it not safer to avoid biographical distractions altogether? These issues have particular force in the case of MacDiarmid. This is partly because of the unstable nature of his ...

Ideologues

Peter Pulzer, 20 February 1986

The Redefinition of Conservatism: Politics and Doctrine 
by Charles Covell.
Macmillan, 267 pp., £27.50, January 1986, 0 333 38463 6
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Thinkers of the New Left 
by Roger Scruton.
Longman, 227 pp., £9.95, January 1986, 0 582 90273 8
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The Idea of Liberalism: Studies for a New Map of Politics 
by George Watson.
Macmillan, 172 pp., £22.50, November 1985, 0 333 38754 6
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Socialism and Freedom 
by Bryan Gould.
Macmillan, 109 pp., £25, November 1985, 0 333 40580 3
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... The Stalinist György Lukacs despised his Habsburgian inheritance; so did Arnold Schoenberg, Karl Kraus and Adolf Loos. Therefore ... Marxists believe that the nature of a society is determined by its economic base; John Kenneth Galbraith believes this. Therefore ... One could turn this game round, if one wanted to. Roger Scruton does not like flat ...

You Dying Nations

Jeremy Adler: Georg Trakl, 17 April 2003

Poems and Prose 
by Georg Trakl, translated by Alexander Stillmark.
Libris, 192 pp., £40, March 2001, 1 870352 51 3
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... link between the two, there are deeper affinities, including their shared admiration for Karl Kraus and Adolf Loos; but above all, both came to reject the concept of truth as logical correspondence, replacing it with a notion of inner coherence. Trakl occupies a central place not just among the German Expressionist poets who exhibited what he ...

City of Blood

Peter Pulzer, 9 November 1989

The Jews of Vienna in the Age of Franz Joseph 
by Robert Wistrich.
Oxford, 696 pp., £45, June 1989, 0 19 710070 8
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Vienna and the Jews, 1867-1938: A Cultural History 
by Steven Beller.
Cambridge, 271 pp., £27.50, August 1989, 0 521 35180 4
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The German-Jewish Economic Elite 1820-1935: A Socio-Cultural Profile 
by W.E. Mosse.
Oxford, 369 pp., £35, October 1989, 0 19 822990 9
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Decadence and Innovation: Austro-Hungarian Life and Art at the Turn of the Century 
edited by Robert Pynsent.
Weidenfeld, 258 pp., £25, June 1989, 0 297 79559 7
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The Torch in My Ear 
by Elias Canetti, translated by Joachim Neugroschel.
Deutsch, 372 pp., £13.95, August 1989, 0 233 98434 8
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From Vienna to Managua: Journey of a Psychoanalyst 
by Marie Langer, translated by Margaret Hooks.
Free Association, 261 pp., £27.50, July 1989, 1 85343 057 9
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... against both the oligarchs and the intruders. Skilfully manipulated by the populist Dr Karl Lueger, it dominated the capital’s politics from 1895 to 1918. It was directed against ‘the Jews’, elastically defined. Yet, as an entity, as Wistrich shows in his valuable narrative, they scarcely existed. Unlike Prague or Frankfurt, Vienna was not a ...

Life of Brian

Kevin Barry, 25 January 1990

No Laughing Matter: The Life and Times of Flann O’Brien 
by Anthony Cronin.
Grafton, 260 pp., £16.95, October 1989, 0 246 12836 4
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... of this holds good. Objection must also be made to Cronin’s comparison between O’Nolan and Karl Kraus. It is made at second hand, and a glance at Walter Benjamin’s essay on Kraus shows such comparison to be disorientating because it is so imprecise. These attempts at perspective fail. Cronin’s other ...

Serious Dr Sonne

Philip Purser, 6 December 1990

The Play of the Eyes 
by Elias Canetti, translated by Ralph Manheim.
Deutsch, 329 pp., £14.95, August 1990, 0 233 98570 0
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Yellow Street 
by Veza Canetti, translated by Ian Mitchell.
Halban, 139 pp., £11.95, November 1990, 1 870015 36 3
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... friend at the beginning of the period but fades out of the narrative as it continues. As for poor Karl Kraus, the mentor who had urged and inspired Canetti to write Auto da Fé, his is the most summary dismissal of all. His offence was to support Dollfus, the Austrian Chancellor subsequently murdered by the Nazis, rather than the ineffectual ...

Hey, that’s me

Hal Foster: Bruce Mau, 5 April 2001

Life Style 
by Bruce Mau.
Phaidon, 626 pp., £39.95, November 2000, 0 7148 3827 6
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... of Art Nouveau. He was to architecture what Schoenberg was to music, Wittgenstein to philosophy or Karl Kraus to journalism – a scourge of the impure and the superfluous. In ‘Ornament and Crime’ (1908), his fiercest polemic, he associates the Art Nouveau designer with a child smearing walls and a ‘Papuan’ tattooing skin. For Loos the ornate ...

Modernity

George Steiner, 5 May 1988

Visions and Blueprints: Avant-Garde Culture and Radical Politics in Early 20th-century Europe 
edited by Edward Timms and Peter Collier.
Manchester, 328 pp., £29.50, February 1988, 0 7190 2260 6
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... this book, references to Lukacs, Benjamin, Ernst Bloch, Adorno, Trotsky, Marcuse, not to speak of Karl Marx himself, are, inevitably, manifold. I have looked in vain, in the Geyer-Ryan piece and elsewhere, for any treatment of the central and drastic fact: all these master spirits, sources, witnesses were Jews or of Jewish origin. No reflection on ...

The Innocence Campaign

Isabel Hull: The Sinking of the ‘Lusitania’, 2 February 2017

‘Lusitania’: The Cultural History of a Catastrophe 
by Willi Jasper, translated by Stewart Spencer.
Yale, 233 pp., £18.99, September 2016, 978 0 300 22138 1
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... people missing from his roster. And he doesn’t examine people close to politics (except for Karl Liebknecht and Bethmann’s private secretary, Kurt Riezler) with the result that the protracted semi-public debate about how to juggle the Americans’ demands and those of intransigent military leaders is absent. Jasper concentrates instead on the ...

Women: what are they for?

Adam Phillips, 4 January 1996

Freud and the Child Woman: The Memoirs of Fritz Wittels 
edited by Edward Timms.
Yale, 188 pp., £19.95, October 1995, 0 300 06485 3
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... book that the story of Wittels’s life was the story of his infatuation with three powerful men: Karl Kraus, then Freud, and then the eccentric Viennese analyst Wilhelm Stekel (‘I have committed two crimes in my life,’ Freud remarked, ‘I called attention to cocaine and I introduced Stekel to psychoanalysis’). There are formulaic references to ...

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