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This article is taken from PN Review 3, Volume 4 Number 3, April - June 1978.

Introducing Herr Kraus C.J. Fox

'There is no English satirist.'
'Bernard Shaw.'
'Precisely.'
-Karl Kraus (1919)
In These Great Times: A Karl Kraus Reader, ed. Harry Zohn, Montreal, Engendra Press.
Karl Kraus: Half-truths & One-and-a-half Truths: Selected Aphorisms, ed. and translated by Harry Zohn, Engendra Press.

OUT OF the 'Sanctimonious Ice-box', of all places-out of Canada, no less-come the first extensive translations of Karl Kraus. Harry Zohn, a native of Kraus's Vienna and now professor of Germanic and Slavic languages at Brandeis University in Massachusetts, is to be thanked profusely for editing these volumes, handsomely produced by an enterprising Montreal publishing firm.

The circumstances of their arrival here are appropriately apocalyptic if we are to believe the prophets of British national collapse, whose alarms have now become so piercing as to arouse a faint stir among even the most phlegmatic natives of these islands. Britain may not quite qualify as a 'research laboratory for world destruction', as Kraus found Vienna sixty years ago, but it is a similarly truncated ex-imperial power down on its financial luck (though apparently lacking the resilience which enabled Little Austria to recover, if only briefly, from the economic ravages of the First World War and the first cataclysmic tremors of the Great Depression).

Apocalyptic themes thunder through many of Kraus's pronouncements and the only touch one misses from the otherwise superb physical design of In These Great Times is a catastrophically convulsed city by Ludwig Meidner emblazoned across ...


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