THE STONY HEART and B/MOONDOCKS by Arno Schmidt

THE STONY HEART and B/MOONDOCKS

Two Novels
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 The Stony Heart and B/Moondocks ($49.95; Dec. 10, 1997; 424 pp.; 1-56478-170-4): The concluding installment of translator Woods's stupendous four-volume edition of ``the German Joyce's'' Collected Early Fiction, 19491964. Schmidt (191479) was a modernist master whose deeply unconventional fiction employs distorted grammar, punctuation, and typography in an all-out effort to render as accurately as possible, and in unedited and uncensored form, the fragmented nature of consciousness. Thus, The Stony Heart (1954) wittily conflates the adventures of historical researcher Walter Eggers as he pursues his scholarly quarry in a rural setting where he makes amazing discoveries about the local landscape (``Drunkards exist among sheep. . .'') and short work of his hostess's wavering fidelity to her philandering husband. This novel's intermittent paeans to German literary culture and rude burlesques of Nazism are given more complex, if less immediately engaging form, in (the ingeniously retitled) B/Moondocks (1960), whose narrator Karl Richter's amatory pursuit of his troubled mistress stimulates him to invent a picaresque tale of the colonization of the moon. Both Richter's manipulation of his helpless Hertha and the aggressive sexuality of his mysterious ``Auntee Heeta'' subtly suggest the lurking presences of domination and sadism in what seems a tamed and reformed culture. Runaway puns and abstruse literary references further ruffle and complicate the surface of a fascinating work whose meanings are well worth digging for. And here's hoping translator Woods is at work on the rest of Schmidt's demanding rewarding oeuvre.

Pub Date: Dec. 10th, 1997
ISBN: 1-56478-170-4
Page count: 424pp
Publisher: Dalkey Archive
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 1997




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