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Tales of the German Imagination: From the Brothers Grimm to Ingeborg Bachmann by Peter Wortsman (editor). New York. 2012. Penguin Books. paperback. 361 pages. Cover: 'Melancholy of the Mountains', 1929, Coloured woodcut by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. Translated from the German, selected and editied with an introduction by Peter Wortsman. 9780141198804.

 

9780141198804FROM THE PUBLISHER -

 

 

   Bringing together tales of melancholy and madness, nightmare and fantasy, this is a new collection of the most haunting German stories from the past 200 years. Ranging from the Romantics of the early nineteenth century to works of contemporary fiction, it includes Hoffmann's hallucinatory portrait of terror and insanity 'The Sandman'; Chamisso's influential black masterpiece 'Peter Schlemiel', where a man barters his own shadow; Kafka's chilling, disturbing satire 'In the Penal Colony'; the Dadaist surrealism of Kurt Schwitters' 'The Onion'; and Bachmann's modern fairy tale 'The Secrets of the Princess of Kagran'. Macabre, dreamlike and expressing deep unconscious fears, these stories are also spiked with unsettling humour, showing stylistic daring as well as giving insight into the darkest recesses of the human condition. Peter Wortsman's powerful translations are accompanied by brief overviews of the lives of each author, and an introduction discussing the notion of 'angst' and the stories' place in the context of German history.

 

 

Wortsman PeterPeter Wortsman is a translator and writer living in New York whose English rendering of Posthumous Papers of a Living Author, by Robert Musil, now in its third edition (Eridanos, 1988; Penguin, 1995; Archipelago Books, 2006—and recently excerpted in Flypaper, Penguin Mini-Classics, 2011), has been called “a classic in itself.” Wortsman is the author of a book of short fiction, A Modern Way to Die (Fromm International, 1991); two stage plays, The Tattooed Man Tells All (2000) and Burning Words (2004); an artists’ book, it-t=i (Here and Now Press, 2005), on which he collaborated with his brother, the artist Harold Wortsman; and travel writing in leading newspapers, journals, and websites, several of which are anthologized in the last four issues of The Best Travel Writing 2008-2011. A former Fulbright and Thomas J. Watson Foundation Fellow, Wortsman is the recipient of the 1985 Beard’s Fund Short Story Award and the 2008 Geertje Potash-Suhr Prosapreis of the Society for Contemporary American Literature in German. His short fiction appeared most recently in the Spring 2011 issue of The Berlin Journal, and his latest nonfiction was published, in German translation, in the April 2011 issue of Cicero, Magazin für politische Kultur. He also recently published essays in Die Welt and Die Zeit. The project he worked on while at the Academy, an anthology he compiled and translated, with the working title “The Singing Bone, Enigmatic Tales of the German Imagination” will be published in 2013 by Penguin Classics, Penguin UK. Photo credit: Jean-Luc Fievet.

 

 

 

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