The Sufferings of Prince Sternenhoch: A Grotesque Tale of Horror
"Philosopher, novelist, essayist, madman, no Czech writer has had a greater impact on underground culture than Ladislav Klíma (1878-1928). Mentor to artists as diverse as Bohumil Hrabal and the Plastic People of the Universe, Klíma's approach to philosophy was similar to that of the sages of ancient India: philosophy should not be limited to speaking or writing about it, it should be lived. Adopting Nietzsche as his paragon, he embarked on a lifelong pursuit to become God, or Absolute Will, and he developed his conception of radical subjectivism in numerous essays, aphorisms, prose works, and plays.
The Sufferings of Prince Sternenhoch is the apotheosis of Klíma's philosophy. In a series of journal entries, the novel chronicles the descent into madness of Prince Sternenhoch, the German Empire's foremost aristocrat and favorite of the Kaiser. Having become the "lowliest worm" at the hands of his deceased wife Helga, the Queen of Hells, Sternenhoch eventually attains an ultimate state of bliss and salvation through the most grotesque form of perversion. Klíma explores here the paradoxical nature of pure spirituality with a humor that is as darkly comical as it is obscene. This volume, the first of Klíma's work to appear in English translation, also includes his notorious essay "My Autobiography."
"Bruges-la-Morte is the story of one man’s obsession with his dead wife and his soul’s struggle between an alluring young dancer—his late wife’s double—and the beautiful, melancholy city of Bruges, whose moody atmosphere mirrors his mourning. This hallmark of Belgian symbolist literature, first translated into English by Philip Mosley to great acclaim twenty years ago, is now back in print for the next generation of English readers to discover.
With penetrating psychological force and richly metaphorical language, Bruges-la-Morte draws a haunting picture of love, grief, and murder in what has become a “dead city,” severely Catholic and once proud. The source of the famous opera Die tote Stadt and endless inspiration for Belgian and French artists, this novella will enthrall both the imaginations and heartstrings of an Anglophile audience."
The Man Who Watched Trains Go By
Simenon's finest work is in the romans durs, or ‘hard' novels. The romans durs are extraordinary: tough, bleak, offhandedly violent, suffused with guilt and bitterness, redolent of place (Simenon is unsurpassed as a scene setter), utterly unsentimental, frightening in the pitilessness of their gaze, yet wonderfully entertaining. They are also more philosophically profound than any of the fiction of Camus or Sartre, and far less self-conscious. This is existentialism with a backbone of tempered steel.
— John Banville, The New Republic
Every artist has a personality, his own spectacles through which he sees the world; by his spectacles he is known, and we decide whether we like his work or not. Simenon's spectacles may be said to be of pure glass, distorting nothing...A copy of a Simenon book can be said to appear somewhere, in some language, every few minutes around the clock. It almost matches the birth rate, and the product is considerably more interesting.
— Patricia Highsmith, The New York Times Book Review
A truly wonderful writer...marvelously readable—lucid, simple, absolutely in tune with that world he creates of rundown hotels, cold, dark barges, quayside canal-taverns, lurking prostitutes, potbellied burghers, taciturn youths, slippery barmen.
— Muriel Spark
The Death of Bunny Munro
'Put Cormac McCarthy, Franz Kafka and Benny Hill together in a Brighton seaside guesthouse and they might just come up with The Death of Bunny Munro. As it stands though, this novel emerges emphatically as the work of one of the great cross-genre storytellers of our age; a compulsive read possessing all Nick Cave's trademark horror and humanity, often thinly disguised in a galloping, playful romp.' -Irvine Welsh
The Chinaman ( Sergeant Studer Mysteries )
"Friedrich Glauser was born in Vienna in 1896. Often referred to as the Swiss Simenon, he died aged forty-two a few days before he was due to be married. Diagnosed a schizophrenic, addicted to morphine and opium, he spent much of his life in psychiatric wards, insane asylums and, when he was arrested for forging prescriptions in prison. He also spent two years with the Foreign Legion in North Africa, after which he worked as a coal-miner and a hospital orderly. In 1939, a year after Glauser’s death, the film of 'Thumbprint', the first Sergeant Studer mystery, was greeted with critical acclaim and commercial success. Studer became more famous than his creator, the mark of true success for a fictional detective."
"Toward the end of his life Leppin wrote: "Prague remains my deepest experience. Its conflict, its mystery, its rat-catcher's beauty have ever provided my poetic efforts with new inspiration and meaning." Others' Paradise represents one of the most intense expressions of this experience. Beginning with the highly imagistic "The Doors of Life," the eight stories contained in this volume detail the contours of the lives and visions of a collection of Prague inhabitants, from a prostitute bound to the decay of the old Jewish quarter, to a man caught in the memory of a lost love, and a shoemaker whose knowledge of the world has been constricted to the view from the window of his cellar workroom. Amidst their differing circumstances what these characters share is an intense desire for lasting human contact and the fated disappointment of all such aspirations. Binding their personal histories, woven into their most intimate details, is Prague itself, the city whose nature, mythical and yet all-too-real, gives shape and force to their desires while simultaneously determining their frustrations."
Vitezslav Nezval / Jindrich Styrsky
"Launched in 1931 by Jindrich Styrsky, Edition 69 consisted of six volumes of erotic literature and illustration that followed the path marked out by Louis Aragon's Irene's Cunt and Georges Bataille's Story of the Eye. Including the first Czech translation of Marquis de Sade's Justine and Pietro Aretino (both illustrated by Toyen), three volumes were from contemporary Czech avant-garde artists, and these were all illustrated by Styrsky himself, who also contributed the text for the last volume of the series. Because of the censorship laws Styrsky encountered with his illustrations for the first Czech publication of Lautréamont's Maldoror, the Edition 69 series was not for sale in regular retail outlets, nor was it made available to libraries. As the original colophons indicate, the books were exclusively for subscribers, collectors, and a circle of friends, and the original print runs numbered no more than 200 (Styrsky's volume was limited to 69 copies).
This volume brings together English translations of the two most important texts in the series: Nezval's "Sexual Nocturne" and Styrsky's "Emilie Comes to Me in a Dream," which is also supplemented by the original essay from psychoanalyst Bohuslav Brouk, a fellow founding member of The Surrealist Group of Czechoslovakia. Additional texts from Styrsky's dream journal are included as a contextual source. Much influenced by Max Ernst's collage-novels, Andre Masson's illustrations for both Aragon's and Bataille's volumes, as well as the idea of the book-object, Styrsky's illustrations and overall conception for the edition rank among the most important of Surrealist works. Along with the Erotic Review, which he initiated and edited during the same period, Edition 69 represented a sustained attempt by the interwar Czech avant-garde to investigate the taboos of bourgeois culture."
Boys & Murderers: Collected Short Fiction
"Boys & Murderers is the first complete collection of novellas and stories in English from Hermann Ungar, author of the highly-acclaimed novel The Maimed. A writer of unique talent whose life was prematurely ended by illness, he was much admired by Thomas Mann, who prefaces this volume, and known as the "Moravian Dostoevsky" for his analysis of the human psyche. In fiction that is often grotesque and comical, Ungar explores the depravities of the heart and delusions of the mind. Taking Prague as well as his hometown of Boskovice for his settings, he can be located in that illustrious tradition of both Prague German writers (he was associated with Max Brod in the Prague Circle) and Jewish writers of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, such as Joseph Roth.
Forgotten for decades, Ungar's work has experienced a renaissance over the past years with translations appearing in a number of languages and new editions appearing in German, which has allowed him to take his place among the greats of 20th-century European literature."
The Passive Vampire (RESTOCKED!)
"Originally published in 1945 by Les Éditions de l'Oubli in Bucharest, The Passive Vampire caught the attention of the French Surrealists when an excerpt appeared in 1947 alongside texts by Jabès and Michaux in Georges Henein's magazine La part du sable. Luca, whose work was admired by Gilles Deleuze, attempts here to transmit the "shudder" evoked by some Surrealist texts, such as André Breton's Nadja and Mad Love, probing with acerbic humor the fragile boundary between "objective chance" and delirium.
Impossible to define, The Passive Vampire is a mixture of theoretical treatise and breathless poetic prose, personal confession and scientific investigation — it is 18 photographs of "objectively offered objects," a category created by Luca to occupy the space opened up by Breton. At times taking shape as assemblages, these objects are meant to capture chance in its dynamic and dramatic forms by externalizing the ambivalence of our drives and bringing to light the nearly continual equivalence between our love-hate tendencies and the world of things."
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