Friday, April 30, 2010

The Friday Four: Under-read German-language Novels

1.  The Death of Virgil - Hermann Broch. Part fever-dream fantasy, part historical fiction, part formal experiment. The translator calls it a "poem" and compares the structure to that of a symphony. The result is fascinating, though often difficult.

2.  The Man Without Qualities - Robert Musil. Unfinished and open-ended, but there’s something interesting on almost every page. Pulitzer prize-winner Jane Smiley praises the work for, among other things, its "many very funny insights into modern life." 

3.  Cassandra - Christa Wolf. The fall of Troy from the inside, from the perspective of Cassandra, the infamously ignored visionary.

4. The Loser - Thomas Bernhard. Bernhard’s books are perhaps best encountered with limited introduction.  As interesting as he is bitter (which is to say 'very'). "Beautifully Depressing".

I'd love to hear from German speakers on how the translations compare to the originals. Other recommendations are also welcome.

Death of VirgilThe Man Without Qualities Vol. 1: A Sort of Introduction and Pseudo Reality PrevailsCassandra: A Novel and Four Essays

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