Ari Linden’s Karl Kraus and the Discourse of Modernity reconsiders the literary works of the Viennese satirist, journalist, and playwright Karl Kraus (1874–1936). Combining close readings with intellectual history, Linden shows how Kraus’s two major literary achievements (The Last Days of Mankind and The Third Walpurgis Night) and his adaptation of The Birds by Aristophanes (Cloudcuckooland) address the political catastrophes of the first third of Europe’s twentieth century—from World War I to the rise of fascism.
Kraus’s central insight, Linden argues, is that the medial representations of such events have produced less an informed audience than one increasingly unmoved by mass violence. In the second part of the book, Linden explores this insight as he sees it inflected in the writings of Søren Kierkegaard, Walter Benjamin, and Theodor Adorno. This hidden dialogue, Linden claims, offers us a richer understanding of the often-neglected relationship between satire and critical theory writ large.
Acknowledgements Abbreviations Introduction: Toward a Krausian Theory of Modernity 1. Reciting War: The Last Days of Mankind (1915-22) 2. On Birds, Wars, and Fragile Republics: Cloudcuckooland (1923) 3. “Where Illegality Becomes the Law”: The Third Walpurgis Night (1933/52) 4. “A Monstrous Non-Entity”: Kierkegaard, Kraus, and Benjamin 5. “Origin is the Goal”: Adorno and Kraus Coda: “Shadows Cast Bodies”: Kraus and Posterity Bibliography Notes Index
ARI LINDEN is an assistant professor in the Department of German Studies at the University of Kansas.
“Ari Linden’s Karl Kraus and the Discourse of Modernity offers an illuminating view onto Kraus’s three major creative works, The Last Days of Mankind, Cloudcuckooland, and The Third Walpurgisnacht. Linden’s principal contribution is an original analysis of Kraus’s use of language in its relation to his contemporary reality—and in particular World War I, the creation of the Austrian Republic in the 1920s, and the era of National Socialism.” —Michael W. Jennings, coauthor of Walter Benjamin: A Critical Life
“Ari Linden’s Karl Kraus and the Discourse of Modernity offers a compelling portrait of Kraus as a cultural critic in dark times, whose work runs parallel to other major figures of modernism. Linden offers measured assessments of Kraus’s successes and limitations, his power and powerlessness, and what they offered, and continue to offer, to later generations of readers and critics.” —Kirk Wetters, author of The Opinion System: Impasses of the Public Sphere from Hobbes to Habermas
“Among the interlocking pieces of German and European modernism still scattered on the table, none remains more in need of ordered consideration, none remains more puzzling, more open to clarification than the works, influence, and reach of Karl Kraus. Linden’s outstanding new study offers fresh insight on every page. Above all he offers an illuminating account of Karl Kraus’s handshake across the decades with Søren Kierkegaard and a bracing assessment of Kraus’s large presence in the critical imagination and writings of Benjamin and Adorno.” —Stephen D. Dowden, coeditor of Tragedy and the Tragic in German Literature, Art, and Thought
“Enormously erudite and enviably conversant with critical theory, Linden convincingly argues that modernism cannot be fully understood without taking account of the towering—but still often neglected—figure of Karl Kraus.” —William Collins Donahue, author of Holocaust as Fiction: Bernhard Schlink's "Nazi Novels" and Their Films
“. . . a sophisticated, original, and well-written study. Linden possesses a rare gift for rendering difficult and elusive concepts lucidly and gracefully. His scholarship is exemplary: even the footnotes are compelling and rich.” —William Collins Donahue, Journal of Austrian Studies
“. . . offers important food for thought in our current moment, and a critical reassessment of a truly modern thinker.” —Caroline A. Kita, The Germanic Review
"Linden adds an impressive work to the growing literature on Austrian writer Karl Kraus." —R. C. Conard, emeritus, University of Dayton, CHOICE
“Ari Linden’s book on Kraus is a well-researched and well-presented study that despite its challenging topics is a pleasant read. It should be added to the reading lists of graduate seminars in literature, philosophy, and intellectual history.” —Margarete Lamb-Faffelberger, Monatshefte
"Ari Linden’s study of Karl Kraus and modernist theory continues the widening aperture on Kraus’s place in Central European thought. The book succeeds, with deep analysis and clear and vibrant writing, in showing Kraus as a modernist writer and theorist, as well as a public intellectual whose work is as valuable as more familiar figures such as Adorno or Benjamin. ... Readers will be rewarded most with a deeper understanding of Kraus’s satire and the importance of media to the political conception of modernity, not only in early twentieth-century Central Europe, but also in our contemporary world." —Austrian History Yearbook
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