Knulp is an amiable vagabond who wanders from town to town, staying with friends who feed and shelter him. Consistently refusing to tie himself down to any trade, place, or person, he even deserts the companion who might be considered Hermann Hesse himself the summer they go tramping together.
Knulp's exile is blissful, gentle, self-absorbed. But hidden beneath the light surface of these "Tales from the Life of Knulp" is the conscience of an artist who suspects that his liberation is worthless, even immoral. As he lies dying in a snowstorm, Knulp has an interview with God in which he reproaches himself for his wasted life. But it is revealed to Knulp that the whole purpose of his life has been to bring "a little homseickness for freedom" into the lives of ordinary men.
Lene is a beautiful, orphaned young seamstress, and Botho is a handsome, aristocratic cavalry officer. They are in love, yet know they have only a short time together as society deems their relationship impossible and refuses to acknowledge the seriousness of their feelings. But while Botho appears to have a glittering life ahead of him, the love he feels may yet be his undoing. Published in 1887, On Tangled Paths caused a scandal on publication with its portrayal of a sexual affair across the classes, and is a taut, flawless masterpiece.
Theodor Fontane was born in the Prussian province of Brandenburg in 1819. After qualifying as a pharmacist, he made his living as a writer. From 1855 to 1859, he lived in London and worked as a freelance journalist and press agent for the Prussian embassy. While working as a war correspondent during the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-1 he was taken prisoner, but released after two months. His first novel, Before the Storm, was published when he was fifty-eight and was followed by sixteen further novels, of which Effi Briest, No Way Back and On Tangled Paths are all published in Penguin Classics. He died in 1898.
Peter James Bowman completed a PhD on Fontane at Cambridge University, and now works as a writer and translator.
'On Tangled Paths has the flawless logic and beautiful design of the novella at its best' - Paul Binding, The Spectator
'There is an undertow of sadness to this novel, yet to read it is a joy, for its humanity, subtlety and visual immediacy' - Ruth Pavey, The Independent
'Theodor Fontane's first true masterpiece; it has a perfect beginning, a perfect ending, and no superfluous sentence in between' - Henry Garland
1794: the French Revolution reaches its climax. After a series of bloody purges the life-loving, volatile Danton is tormented by his part in the killing. His political rival, the driven, ascetic Robespierre, decides Danton's fate. A titanic struggle begins. Once friends who wanted to change the world, now one stands for compromise the other for ideological purity as the guillotine awaits.
A revolutionary himself, George Büchner was 21 when he wrote the play in 1835, while hiding from the police. With its hair-raising on-rush of scenes and vivid dramatisation of complex, visionary characters, Danton's Death has a claim to be the greatest political tragedy ever written. In his newly-revised translation, Howard Brenton captures Büchner's exhilarating energy as Danton struggles to avoid his inexorable fall.
Late in the eighteenth century, two young Germans set out to measure the world. One of them, the aristocratic naturalist Alexander von Humboldt, negotiates jungles, voyages down the Orinoco River, tastes poisons, climbs the highest mountain known to man, counts head lice, and explores and measures every cave and hill he comes across. The other, the reclusive and barely socialized mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauss, can prove that space is curved without leaving his home. Terrifyingly famous and wildly eccentric, these two polar opposites finally meet in Berlin in 1828, and are immediately embroiled in the turmoil of the post-Napolean world.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
As the novel proceeds, however, it gradually becomes clear that Judith is pursuing him, not vice versa--pursuing with the intent to kill. He spends a day in New York, then goes on to Philadelphia, where he joins an old flame and her daughter. The trio drives to St. Louis, still shadowed by Judith; partly to escape her (and partly to face her), the narrator strikes out west on his own, to Tucson, where he is robbed by Judith's agents, then up to the Oregon coast, where a roadside showdown takes place and a gunshot echoes over the Pacific.
"I seem to have been born for horror and fear," Handke's narrator confesses.
As the narrator and Judith maneuver toward their coastal rendezvous, his life itself may depend on whether he has achieved enough--in the flesh and in the mind--to confront the pistol trembling in her hand.
A Child's Heart, written in January 1919, in Basel, concerns the transmutation of a boy's innocence into knowledge of good and evil, and the painful guilt that accompanies this process.
Both Klein and Wagner (written in May-June 1919, immediately after the arrival in Montagnola) and Klingsor's Last Summer (written shortly after) are set in a southern landscape that reflects Hesse's life that summer; both novellas have heroes who are more or less Hesse's age at the time; and in both the hero's death is preceded by a grand vision of unity in which the polarities of life are resoluved. Hesse exposes himself mercilessly in Klein and Wagner, a story of escape, wrenching loose, letting go. But the expressionist painter Klingsor is a more direct self-portrait of the Hesse of 1919.
Malte Laurids Brigge is a young Danish nobleman and poet living in Paris. Obsessed with death and with the reality that lurks behind appearances, Brigge muses on his family and their history and on the teeming, alien life of the city. Many of the themes and images that occur in Rilke's poetry can also be found in the novel, prefiguring the modernist movement in its self-awareness and imagistic immediacy.
Extinction, Bernhard's last work of fiction, takes the form of the autobiographical testimony of Franz-Josef Murau, the intellectual black sheep of a powerful Austrian land-owning family. Murau lives in Rome in self-imposed exile from his family, surrounded by a coterie of artistic and intellectual friends. On returning from his sister's wedding to the "wine-cork manufacturer" on the family estate of Wolfsegg, having resolved never to go home again, Murau receives a telegram informing him of the death of his parents and brother in a car crash. Not only must he now go back, he must do so as the master of Wolfsegg. And he must decide its fate.
Divided into two halves, Extinction explores Murau's rush of memories of Wolfsegg as he stands at his Roman window considering the fateful telegram, in counterpoint to his return to Wolfsegg and the preparations for the funeral itself.
Written in the seamless style for which Bernhard became famous, Extinction is the ultimate proof of his extraordinary literary genius. It is his summing-up against Austria's treacherous past and -- in unprecedented fashion -- a revelation of his own incredibly complex personality, of his relationship with the world in which he lived, and the one he left behind.
A literary event of the first magnitude.
When Werther dances with the beautiful Lotte, it seems as though he is in paradise. It is a joy, however, that can only ever be short-lived. Engaged to another man, she tolerates Werther's adoration and encourages his friendship. She can never return his love.
Broken-hearted, he leaves her home in the country, trying to escape his own desire. But when he receives a letter telling him that she is finally married, his passion soon turns to destructive obsession.
And as his life falls apart, Werther is haunted by one certainty:
He has lost his reason for living.
Released after fifteen years in prison, trapped in a bureaucratic maze, petty criminal Wilhelm Voight wanders 1910 Berlin in desperate, hazardous pursuit of identity papers. Luck changes when he picks up an abandoned military uniform in a fancy-dress shop and finds the city ready to obey his every command. At the head of six soldiers, he marches to the Mayor’s office, cites corruption and confiscates the treasury with ease. But still what he craves is official recognition that he exists.
A nation heads blindly towards war as the misfit takes on the state in Ron Hutchinson’s savagely funny new version of Carl Zuckmayer’s The Captain of Köpenick, first staged in Germany in 1931.
Robert Walser—admired greatly by Kafka, Musil, and Walter Benjamin—is a radiantly original author. He has been acclaimed “unforgettable, heart-rending” (J.M. Coetzee), “a bewitched genius” (Newsweek), and “a major, truly wonderful, heart-breaking writer” (Susan Sontag). Considering Walser’s “perfect and serene oddity,” Michael Hofmann in The London Review of Books remarked on the “Buster Keaton-like indomitably sad cheerfulness [that is] most hilariously disturbing.” The Los Angeles Times called him “the dreamy confectionary snowflake of German language fiction. He also might be the single most underrated writer of the 20th century....The gait of his language is quieter than a kitten’s.”
“A clairvoyant of the small” W. G. Sebald calls Robert Walser, one of his favorite writers in the world, in his acutely beautiful, personal, and long introduction, studded with his signature use of photographs.
The apocalyptic catastrophes of The Day After Tomorrow meet the watery menace of The Abyss in this gripping, scientifically realistic, and utterly imaginative thriller.
Buddenbrooks, first published in Germany in 1900, when Mann was only twenty-five, has become a classic of modem literature -- the story of four generations of a wealthy bourgeois family in northern Germany. With consummate skill, Mann draws a rounded picture of middle-class life: births and christenings; marriages, divorces, and deaths; successes and failures. These commonplace occurrences, intrinsically the same, vary slightly as they recur in each succeeding generation. Yet as the Buddenbrooks family eventually succumbs to the seductions of modernity -- seductions that are at variance with its own traditions -- its downfall becomes certain.
In immensity of scope, richness of detail, and fullness of humanity, Buddenbrooks surpasses all other modem family chronicles; it has, indeed, proved a model for most of them. Judged as the greatest of Mann's novels by some critics, it is ranked as among the greatest by all. Thomas Mann was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1929.
From the Hardcover edition.
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Whether he is writing about a neurotic army officer (The Romantic), a disgruntled bookkeeper and would-be assassin (The Anarchist), or an opportunistic war-deserter (The Relaist), Broch immerses himself in the twists of his characters' psyches, and at the same time soars above them, to produce a prophetic portrait of a world tormented by its loss of faith, morals, and reason.
When he falls ill on his way home from school, fifteen-year-old Michael Berg is rescued by Hanna, a woman twice his age. In time she becomes his lover—then she inexplicably disappears. When Michael next sees her, he is a young law student, and she is on trial for a hideous crime. As he watches her refuse to defend her innocence, Michael gradually realizes that Hanna may be guarding a secret she considers more shameful than murder.
From the Trade Paperback edition.