THE SCHOOL FOR ATHEISTS by Arno Schmidt

THE SCHOOL FOR ATHEISTS

A Novella = Comedy in 6 Acts
by & translated by
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KIRKUS REVIEW

Another surpassingly strange experimental fiction, originally published in 1972 by “the German Joyce” (1914–79), whose pun-filled derangements of reality have not deterred his indefatigable (and expert) English translator. This one contains parallel stories set in 2014, when the sole remaining world powers, China and the US, hold a summit meeting hosted by elderly German senator William T. Kolderup; and in 1969, when Kolderup and other “atheists” enact a roundelay of religious and sexual ecstasies on remote Spenser Island. Underneath the exhilarating wordplay (people “inphallibly” pursue their desires; etc.), Schmidt subtly dramatizes the impossibility of achieving universal peace within the (fractious) contexts of the irrationality of loving and the unlikelihood that lovers will remain eternally faithful. Few readers will absorb all of this tale’s perverse riches, but when one ardent character proclaims “We all live in one colossal novel,” it almost makes you wish it were an Arno Schmidt novel.

Pub Date: Dec. 15th, 2001
ISBN: 1-892295-96-2
Page count: 301pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 2002




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