Collected Novellas: Collected Early Fiction 1949-1964

(Author) (Translator)
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$16.95  $15.76
Dalkey Archive Press
Publish Date
5.9 X 8.9 X 1.4 inches | 1.45 pounds
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About the Author

Arno Schmidt (1914-1979) was born in the working-class suburb of Hamburg-Hamm, Germany. Drafted into the army in 1940, he served in the artillery at a flak base in Norway until the end of the war. After being held as a prisoner of war for eight months, he worked briefly as an interpreter for the British military police. His first book, Leviathan, was published in 1949. In 1958 Schmidt moved to the village of Bargfeld near Celle. Over the next twenty years, until his death, he wrote some of the landmarks of postwar German literature, many of which are available in translation from Dalkey Archive Press.
John E. Woods won both the 1981 American Book Award and PEN award for his translation of Schmidt's Evening Edged in Gold and has published a translation of Thomas Mann's Buddenbrooks.


Schmidt's writing often echoes Proust's hysterical empiricism or Joyce's manic wordplay, at times rivaling even Finnegans Wake.
With this opening volume of Schmidt's prose works in English, perhaps he will be recognized in this country for what he is: a truly innovative and witty writer.
Highly recommended.
"When Arno Schmidt died, on Whit-Sunday 1979, modern German prose lost its greatest virtuoso . . . Reading Arno Schmidt can be addictive. I was first captivated by him in the late 1960s, and know no greater reading pleasure in the whole of postwar German literature.
Schmidt defies translation. But here John E. Woods captures his very persona and gleeful eroticism . . . Let us hope that . . . this new edition of the early works has the success it deserves . . . Then Arno Schmidt will assume his rightful place in modern literature.
Collected Novellas is an enticing introduction to the twisted mind games of Schmidt, to his unusual prose, his raving, voracious mind. While the themes and stories alone warrant hefty works ...more of fiction war, devastation, love, art it's the rambunctious style that brings these themes their power and their immediacy as well as their ability to capture, like Virginia Woolf, moments of being. Only Schmidt's moment is one of history's uglier, that of Nazi Germany, war on the western front, a POW camp, and postwar hypocrisy.
By a bitter bit of mistiming, Arno Schmidt, who died in 1979, has now become at least partly accessible in English . . . It's a shame that we are learning about his career only now when ...more it's over; all the more reason, then, to blow the untimely trumpet. He was a very good writer; we should have known his work sooner.
The clown prince of contemporary German fiction, Arno Schmidt [was] a satirist who first wrote rather straight, pessimistic, intensely visual allegories of post-Nazi society, with ...more excursions into the time of Alexander the Great and A.D. 541, and then soared into tight, allusive wordplay that translates uncommonly well into English.