The Last Days of Mankind: A Visual Guide to Karl Kraus' Great War Epic

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Product Details

$38.95  $35.83
Doppelhouse Press
Publish Date
8.1 X 8.1 X 0.6 inches | 1.35 pounds

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About the Author

Matthias Goldmann is a writer and translator. He has published essays, poetry, and stories, has created and exhibited computer text animations, and has cooperated with visual artists and authors on various projects and publications including coauthoring the artist monograph Franz West: Man with a Ball (Rizzoli, 2014).


Sengl expressly states that she is not in a position to offer a quick solution for all the injustices of our times. But her works urge us to cast a more open and more empathic view of our environment, and that would already be a very commendable first step.- Acid Rain
Modern fables for adults.- Widewalls
No folly, no mendacity is exempt from Kraus' gaze.
- Marjorie Perloff
When the age died by its own hand, that hand was Karl Kraus'.
- Bertolt Brecht
Certainly eye-catching.
- Publishers Weekly
The Last Days of Mankind is, naturally enough, about the First World War, and about all war, but it is also about what our civilization is and about who we are. That is why, like all great works of art, it is, and will always remain, a 'contemporary' work. Those questions; who we are, what are our beliefs and values, what do we stand for, are as urgent today as they were in 1914-18 and its aftermath. Kraus, like the other three great writers he stands beside (Aristophanes, Juvenal, Swift) [...] is the voice we need to hear.- Michael Russell, author of City of Shadows and City of Lies
[Deborah Sengl's] stunning display of 176 taxidermied rats as actors presenting forty-four scenes from The Last Days of Mankind deliver[s] a bracing test of [the play's] potential. [...] The preparation, costuming and posing of the rats as well as the meticulous attention to miniature props - facsimiles of period newspapers, a factory owner's top hat and bow tie, the sample cases of traveling salesmen, infantry rifles - reflect a deep knowledge of Kraus' text and disciplined commitment to an unconventional representation of its meaning.

The powerful effect of this large assemblage of monochromatic tableaux is heightened by juxtaposition with the preparatory drawings, which were exhibited next to them and are beautifully reproduced in the catalogue. These delicate line drawings all use color, sparingly but pointedly, so that the viewer is inevitably drawn to a comparison with the corresponding tableaux. Seen up close, as they are in the catalogue photographs, which include some unsettling enlargements, every white rat's cocked head, gaping mouth, or crooked claw points back to the linguistic physiognomy of the speakers of a war-contaminated language who people Kraus' drama.
- Leo Lensing, "Karl Kraus at War", Times Literary Supplement
The initial reaction to seeing the white rats wearing the tiny corsets and holding rat-sized guns results in deeply conflicted emotions. Cuteness and horror collide in these miniature scenes. [...] Sengl continues the legacy of acid-tongued Austrian artists from Kraus and Kafka to more contemporary voices like Thomas Bernhard and Elfriede Jelinek. Her adaptation of Kraus' war epic, The Last Days of Mankind, makes it more accessible to audiences and helps to render the experimental play into a more comprehensible whole.
- New York Journal of Books