This is the first in a four volume edition of the early fiction of one of the most daring and influential writers of postwar Germany, a man often called the German James Joyce due to the linguistic inventiveness of his fiction. The novella was Schmidt’s preferred form at the beginning of his writing career, and this volume collects the ten novellas he wrote between Entymesis (1949) and Republica Intelligentsia (1957), most of the them appearing here in English for the first time.
The settings range from ancient Greece to 21st-century America, but all react to the stifling conservatism and cold prudery of Adenauer Germany. Bursting with intellectual and sexual energies, resuscitating the German language after two decades of Nazi subjugation, these novellas revolutionized German literature in the 1950s and retain their power to shock and delight forty years later.
Schmidt has been called a “giant of the modernist tradition, an enormously important talent in the fictional line of cruel comedy that runs from Rabelais through Swift and Joyce” (New York Review of Books). This edition of his collected fiction should restore Schmidt to his rightful place at the forefront of 20th-century writing.