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The second volume of a courageous and welcome publishing project (encompassing the author's collected early fiction, 1949-64) offers three related novellas originally published (perhaps in afterthought) as a trilogy in 1963. They comprise--in their unique author's highly personal style of hybrid digressive montage--a hilariously confrontational picture of his native Germany from the Hitler years well on into the indefinite, postapocalyptic future. ""Scenes from the Life of a Faun"" (1953) presents the story of a deserter from Napoleon's army as researched by a dreamy, disgruntled citizen of the Nazi Republic (this is a revision of Woods's 1983 translation). ""Brand's Heath"" (1950) expresses with Beckett-like bleakness and ferocity a writer's imaginative escape from the nightmare of the recently concluded war. ""Dark Mirrors"" (1951) describes the psychic disintegration, and reintegration, experienced by the self-proclaimed last man on earth when he learns he is not alone. Linked by recurring images, as well as by their pessimistic eloquence, these challenging works mingle fractured narrative and overlapping dialogue, rhetorical questions and expostulations, exclamatory overpunctuation, and other stylistic devices and delusions in the manner that justifies the late (1914-79) Schmidt's deserved reputation as the German Joyce. It also makes him that rarest of rarities: an experimental writer who's actually fun to read.

Pub Date: Dec. 22nd, 1995
ISBN: 1564780902
Page count: 236pp
Publisher: Dalkey Archive