As BBC3 is planning to air a broadcast about Karl Kraus in December 2016, what better introduction could there be than Marjorie Perloff’s review of Jonathan Franzen’s “The Kraus Project” (2013)?
Shortly after my essay (“Avant-Garde in a Different Key: Karl Kraus’s The Last Days of Mankind”) went to press, Kraus, whose work has long been neglected in the Anglophone world, suddenly found himself at the center of lively controversy in the press. The occasion was the publication in October 2013 of Jonathan Franzen’s The Kraus Project (Farrar, Straus & Giroux). Ironically, it has taken the attention of a celebrated novelist like Franzen to bring a great figure like Karl Kraus to the attention of our own literary/intellectual community. Or so we may conclude from the dozens of serous reviews devoted to The Kraus Project in the autumn of 1913. Most of these reviews—for example, Michael Hoffmann’s in The New York Review of Books– treated Kraus as a fascinating—but finally flawed—polemicist, whose virulent critique of the Hapsburg monarchy and especially of the media was perhaps too extreme—and…
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