December 31, 2007

Avant-garde for the poor, pt. 7

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Avant-garde for the poor, pt. 6

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Avant-garde for the poor, pt. 5

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Avant-garde for the poor, pt. 4

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Avant-garde for the poor, pt. 3

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Avant-garde for the poor, pt. 2

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Avant-garde for the poor, pt. 1

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The Club of Odd Volumes

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Random book covers

I found these cover images on Amazon while searching for hours for out-of-print books.


152 Proverbs adapted to the taste of the day by Eluard and Peret. Hopefully I can find this for a reasonable price.


A Crowley-related object found while searching for books by Pessoa?!


60s paperback of the Saragossa Manuscript, found while searching for books by Roger Caillois. He had a lot to do with discovering / editing / publishing Potocki's book in France. You gotta love the skeleton with breasts.

I don't know how I stumbled upon this one, but in trying to describe it to friends tonight, I drunkenly called it "Foxy Brown Pygmalion." Ouch.






















































December 26, 2007

Roger Caillois, The Writing of Stones

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December 25, 2007

Benjamin Peret, Death to the Pigs


Benjamin Peret, Death to the Pigs and Other Writings, translated and introduced by Rachel Stella (Atlas, 1998). This Atlas Press book is identical to the University of Nebraska press edition (except this cover is way cooler). Both editions seem to be out-of-print.

Blurbs from the back cover:

"Peret's oeuvre: the most original and savage of our era." -- Octavio Paz

"The greatest living poet." -- Paul Eluard (don't know when he wrote that one)

"Benjamin Peret is, for me, the Surrealist poet par excellence: a totally liberating and lucid inspiration which flows effortlessly and directly from its source and straight away re-creates a whole other world." -- Luis Bunuel



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The Automatic Muse: Surrealist Novels (Atlas Anti-classics)













Death to the Pigs and Other Writings (French Modernist Library)

The Poetry of Change: A Study of the Surrealist Works of Benjamin Peret













November 15, 2007

Hans Henny Jahnn


***Feb2008: I moved the Jahnn translation stuff over here.

When asked by PEN America "What great books have never been translated into English?" Tim Crouse (journalist and author of Boys on the Bus) responded:

"Two great peaks, one of fiction, the other of poetry, are still invisible to the English-speaking world, but it seems to me that once translations scatter the mist, the literary landscape will never look the same. (1) The novels of Hans Henny Jahnn (German, 1894-1959). So far as I know, only the first volume of his great "Fluss Ohne Ufer" trilogy has found its way into English: Das Holzschiff (The Ship, trans. Catherine Hutter, Scribners, 1961). That leaves the other two volumes still to go, plus Perrudja, Ugrino und Ingrabanien, and 13 Nicht Geheren Geschichten (Thirteen Unreassuring Stories)--all treasures. [Ed note: The last title mentioned by Crouse was indeed translated into English as Thirteen Uncanny Stories, though it seems to be out of print at the moment; see the rest of this post.] I know them from the French versions. (2) The poems of David Rosenmann-Taub (Chilean, b. 1927). Cortejo y Epinicio (Cortege and Epinicion), Los despojos del sol (The Spoils of the Sun), and El cielo en la fuente (The Sky in the Fountain) are among the most original, profound, and wrenching books of poetry I've read."

I have never encountered Rosenmann-Taub, but Hans Henny Jahnn is one of my favorite authors. To read the rest of PEN America's list, go here.

From Gerda Jordan's introduction to her translation of Thirteen Uncanny Stories by Hans Henny Jahnn (published by Peter Lang):

"'He was a writer of Baroque sexuality, of fleshiness and macabre desperation [...]. The reader continuously stumbles over coffins and tombs, witnesses deeds of horror, awesome fear of death and the performance of the necessities of metabolism....'

"Thus wrote Werner Helwig to his close friend Hans Henny Jahnn. It was not Helwig's own criticism of Jahnn, but that of a critic he had invented in order to show Jahnn what the public thought of his work. No invented critic was needed, however; Jahnn is known as 'the writer who uncovered the hells of the flesh and drives, the abyss of demoniacal passions and sinister licentiousness,' his writings are described as 'materialism of pure faith in the body,' his reader is 'numbed by the eternal drone of the hormone organ.' Polite euphemism calls him the 'uncomfortable' writer.

"The object of this and similar criticism, Hans Henny Jahnn, novelist and dramatist, misunderstood in his life time and since his death, is little known in his own country, not to mention the outside world..."


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The ship







































The Case of Hans Henny Jahnn: Criticism and the Literary Outsider (Studies in German Literature Linguistics and Culture)

November 14, 2007

Yitzhak Orpaz, The Death of Lysanda, and Cape Editions

Once again: Brad, the editor of the great Neglected Books site [neglectedbooks.com], posted an annotated list of 20 out-of-print books I made in June of 2000. He added links to all the book titles. I'm going to post images of the books discussed (if I still have them).

The permanent link for the list.


In the (late?) 60s, the British publisher Jonathan Cape Ltd/Grossman Publishers started an ambitious series of world literature called simply Cape Editions. See the scan below which lists the series up until their 41st title in 1970 (the Orpaz book is their 42nd). I don't know how long they were able to keep it up. I'll do some research on this publisher and especially their titles which have fallen out of print. ***

What a list. Just their French lit in translation causes my jaw to drop: Michel Leiris (Manhood), Roland Barthes, Baudelaire, Alfred Jarry (The Supermale), Francis Ponge (his wild Soap book), Breton, Butor. And then translations from Hrabal, Lichtenberg, Trakl. Incredible. I can't wait to find out who exactly was responsible for this series.

The back cover includes their credo:


***UPDATE, 11/15/07: It seems like Nathaniel Tarn was responsible for these books.
From the Stanford library site for his papers: "After publishing his first volume of poetry Old Savage/Young City in 1964 and a celebrated translation of Pablo Neruda's The Heights of Macchu Picchu in 1966, Tarn decided to concentrate his energies on literature. He served as the General Editor of Cape Editions and the Founding Editor of Cape-Goliard Press in London from 1967 until 1969, then returned to the United States in 1970. Two years later he assumed a professorship in comparative literature at Rutgers, which he held until his retirement in 1985. Today he lives outside Santa Fe, New Mexico."
I recognize Tarn's name from working at the Penn Book Center in the mid to late 90s. The owners were friends with him and frequently stocked his books, which I would flip through. I wish I would have tried to meet him when he lived outside Philadelphia.

Rene Daumal, A Night of Serious Drinking

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Villy Sorensen

Brad, the editor of the great Neglected Books site [neglectedbooks.com], posted an annotated list of 20 out-of-print books I made in June of 2000. He added links to all the book titles. I'm going to post images of the books discussed (if I still have them).

The permanent link for the list.







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The Downfall of the Gods (Modern Scandinavian Literature in Translation)
Harmless Tales
Another Metamorphosis and Other Fictions (European Short Stories Series)
Seneca: The Humanist at the Court of Nero
Strange Stories
Tiger in the Kitchen

Antonio Machado, Juan de Mairena

Brad, the editor of the great Neglected Books site [neglectedbooks.com], posted an annotated list of 20 out-of-print books I made in June of 2000. He added links to all the book titles. I'm going to post images of the books discussed (if I still have them).

The permanent link for the list.



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November 3, 2007

More German Romanticism books

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November 2, 2007

Karinthy, Please Sir!

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November 1, 2007

A Journey Round My Skull, French 2

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October 31, 2007

Vojagho al Faremido

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October 22, 2007

Robert Walser, The Walk

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Hugo Raes

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Hans Henny Jahnn, The Ship



***2008 Update: I started a separate blog for Hans Henny Jahnn here: http://kebadkenya.blogspot.com/

Brad, the editor of the great Neglected Books site [neglectedbooks.com], posted an annotated list of 20 out-of-print books I made in June of 2000. He added links to all the book titles. I'm going to post images of the books discussed (if I still have them).

The permanent link for the list.

10. The Ship by Hans Henny Jahnn (1894 - 1959)

This book is devastating. Even in the fairly rough English translation, it lodged in my brain and I consider it one of the more powerful and disturbing works of the twentieth century. I first encountered Jahnn in the collection Black Letters Unleashed -- an excerpt from The Ship called "Kebad Kenya," which can be read as a stand-alone
story. "Kebad Kenya" is also contained in Thirteen Uncanny Stories. Try to find and read this story! I'll post some of it here soon.

Atlas Press published a translation of Jahnn's 1962 novella The Night of Lead. They say that it "
shows Jahnn at his darkest: man is portrayed as the toy of supernatural powers, where his only certainty is a bodily existence which, in turn, is blindly bound to the laws of growth, death and decay and procreation - the major themes of Jahnn’s writing." This description can also apply to The Ship. Even after reading Lovecraft and Thomas Bernhard, I'm tempted to think of Jahnn as the most terrifying author. Bernhard can make me feel a little crazy (finishing Correction was one of the more masochistic things I've ever done, and I grew up on gore movies), but he's often hilarious. Jahnn isn't very funny. He's bleak and unrelenting bizarre.





Back cover of Thirteen Uncanny Stories:




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The Case of Hans Henny Jahnn: Criticism and the Literary Outsider (Studies in German Literature Linguistics and Culture)
The ship