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Every great city is a restless work in progress, but nowhere is the urban impulse more in flux than in Berlin, that sprawling metropolis located on the fault line of history. A short-lived fever-dream of modernity in the Roaring Twenties, redubbed Germania and primped up into the megalomaniac fantasy of a Thousand-Year Reichstadt in the Thirties, reduced in 1945 to a divided rubble heap, subsequently revived in a schizoid state of post-World War II duality, and reunited in 1989 when the wall came tumbling down - Berlin has since been reborn yet again as the hipster hub of the 21st century. This book is a hopscotch tour in time and space.Part memoir, part travelogue, Ghost Dance in Berlin is an unlikely declaration of love, as much to a place as to a state of mind, by the American-born son of German-speaking Jewish refugees. Peter Wortsman imagines the parallel celebratory haunting of two sets of ghosts, those of the exiled erstwhile owners, a Jewish banker and his family, and those of the Führer's Minister of Finance and his entourage, who took over title, while in another villa across the lake another gaggle of ghosts is busy planning the Final Solution.
This collection of exploratory pieces, short stories, and reflections was originally published in Zurich in 1936. It was the last volume Robert Musil published before his sudden death in 1942. Musil had begun to fathom the impossibility of com- pleting his monumental masterpiece The Man Without Qualities and this volume reveals a radically different aspect of his work. Musil observes a fly's tragic struggle with flypaper, the laughter of a horse; he peers through microscopes and telescopes, dissecting both large and small. Musil's quest for the essential is a voyage into the minute.
In this extraordinary and unpredictable cross-section of the work of one of the most influential free spirits of German letters, Peter Wortsman captures the breathlessness and power of Heinrich von Kleist's transcendent prose. These tales, essays, and fragments move across inner landscapes, exploring the shaky bridges between reason and feeling and the frontiers between the human psyche and the divine. From the "The Earthquake in Chile," his damning invective against moral tyranny; to "Michael Kohlhaas," an exploration of the extreme price of justice; to "The Marquise of O . . . ," his twist on the mythic triumph of love story; to his essay "On the Gradual Formulation of Thoughts While Speaking," which tracks the movements of the unconscious decades before Freud; Kleist unrelentingly confronts the dangers of self-deception and the ultimate impossibility of existence ina world of absolutes. Wortsman's illuminating afterword demystifies Kleist's vexed history, explaining how the century after his death saw Kleist's legacy transformed from that of a largely derided playwright into a literary giant who would inspire Thomas Mann and Franz Kafka. The concerns of Heinrich von Kleist are timeless. The mysteries in his fiction and visionary essays still breathe.
This new edition of the beloved tales of the Brothers Grimm - selected, translated and edited by Peter Wortsman - is drawn from the 1857 edition of the German original, the last edition reviewed and approved by the Brothers in their lifetime. Over The years, The Brothers¢ enigmatic narratives have been sanitized by Disney and children¢s book editors for modern consumption; this indispensable edition restores their sting and vigor og The original prose. In Wortsman's words, his translation is a return to "a tincture of concentrated man-eating ogre and ground hag tooth, diluted in blood, sweat and tears, as a potent vaccine against the crippling effects of fear and fury." These fortifying imaginative vaccines are accompanied by twenty-four full-color illustrations by Haitian artists, including Edouard Duval-Carrié, Pascale Monnin, and Frankétienne. Edwidge Danticat observes that many Haitian painters bring "forth another canvas beneath the one we see." These works' imaginative scope, vitality, and evocation of the unconscious open deep channels between the two traditions, shedding new light and shadow on the classic tales.
"If it be permitted to speak of 'love at first sound,' then that's what I experienced in my first encounter with this poet of prose." So said Thomas Mann of the work of PeterAltenberg. A virtuoso Fin-de-Siècle Viennese innovator of what he called the "telegram style" of writing, Altenberg's signature short prose straddles the line between the poetic and the prosaic, fiction and observation, harsh verity and whimsical vignette. Inspired by the prose poems of Charles Baudelaire and the Feuilleton--a light journalistic reflection of his day--Altenberg carved out a spare, strikingly modern aesthetic that speaks with an eerie prescience to our own impatient time. Peter Wortsman's new selection and translation reads like a sly lyrical wink from the turnof-the-century of the telegram to the turn-of-the-millennium of email.
Heinrich Heine (1797-1856), one of Germany's most revered poets, is equally well-known for his idiosyncratic prose, the vibrant voice of which feels astonishingly modern in its familiar tone and thematic acrobatics. Travel Pictures comprises the accounts of four journeys taken at different times in his life. The opening "Harz Journey," a quirky chronicle of his walking tour in the Harz Mountains, is the text that first made him famous. But in all four accounts, Heine, seasoned by the skepticism of a born outsider, does more than climb mountains, ford streams and cross borders. In this remarkable book, Heine propels German letters into the Modern mindset. Freud cites a few of Travel Pictures' most humorous passages in Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious. Heine's incomparable lyric vision lifts the book into the transcendent realm of great journey literature.
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