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Nobodaddy's Children: Scenes from the Life of a Faun, Brand's Heath, Dark Mirrors

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This trilogy of novels traces life in Germany from the Nazi era through the postwar years and into an apocalyptic future. Scenes from the Life of a Faun recounts the dreary life of a government worker who escapes the banality of war by researching the exploits of a deserter from the Napoleonic Wars nicknamed The Faun. Brand's Heath deals with the chaos of the immediate pos This trilogy of novels traces life in Germany from the Nazi era through the postwar years and into an apocalyptic future. Scenes from the Life of a Faun recounts the dreary life of a government worker who escapes the banality of war by researching the exploits of a deserter from the Napoleonic Wars nicknamed The Faun. Brand's Heath deals with the chaos of the immediate postwar period as a writer joins a small community of "survivors" to try to forge a new life. Dark Mirrors is set in a future where civilization has been virtually destroyed; the narrator fears he may be the last man on earth, until the discovery of another creates new fears. All three novels are characterized by Schmidt's unique combination of sharply observed details, sarcastic asides, and wide erudition.


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This trilogy of novels traces life in Germany from the Nazi era through the postwar years and into an apocalyptic future. Scenes from the Life of a Faun recounts the dreary life of a government worker who escapes the banality of war by researching the exploits of a deserter from the Napoleonic Wars nicknamed The Faun. Brand's Heath deals with the chaos of the immediate pos This trilogy of novels traces life in Germany from the Nazi era through the postwar years and into an apocalyptic future. Scenes from the Life of a Faun recounts the dreary life of a government worker who escapes the banality of war by researching the exploits of a deserter from the Napoleonic Wars nicknamed The Faun. Brand's Heath deals with the chaos of the immediate postwar period as a writer joins a small community of "survivors" to try to forge a new life. Dark Mirrors is set in a future where civilization has been virtually destroyed; the narrator fears he may be the last man on earth, until the discovery of another creates new fears. All three novels are characterized by Schmidt's unique combination of sharply observed details, sarcastic asides, and wide erudition.

30 review for Nobodaddy's Children: Scenes from the Life of a Faun, Brand's Heath, Dark Mirrors

  1. 5 out of 5

    Vit Babenco

    “Why art thou silent and invisible, Father of Jealousy? Why dost thou hide thyself in clouds From every searching eye?” William Blake – To Nobodaddy Nobodaddy is William Blake’s Urizen – a gnostic demiurge of our defective world… Scenes from the Life of a Faun is a dreary presentiment of the colossal social catastrophe… Not a continuum, not a continuum ! : that’s how my life runs, how my memories run (like a spasm-shaken man watching a thunderstorm in the night) : Flash : a naked house in the develo “Why art thou silent and invisible, Father of Jealousy? Why dost thou hide thyself in clouds From every searching eye?” William Blake – To Nobodaddy Nobodaddy is William Blake’s Urizen – a gnostic demiurge of our defective world… Scenes from the Life of a Faun is a dreary presentiment of the colossal social catastrophe… Not a continuum, not a continuum ! : that’s how my life runs, how my memories run (like a spasm-shaken man watching a thunderstorm in the night) : Flash : a naked house in the development bares its teeth amid poison-green shrubbery : night. Flash : white visages are gaping, tongues tatting, fingers teething : night. Flash : tree limbs are standing, boys play pubescing; women are stewing; girls are scamping open-bloused : night ! Flame : me : woe : night ! ! For the protagonist the continuous reality falls apart into separate fragments and Arno Schmidt portrays his hero’s life as the series of discrete impressions. The narration is expressively metaphoric and full of the vivid and grotesque imagery… The whole nation is in the grip of a mania for medals and badges, enthusiastically weaving away on the legend of its own grandeur ! : The sort of thing that truly fits the Germans to a T ! Society is sick and the hero, not wishing to partake in the total mass hysteria, hides away in books, historical documents, daydreams and, similar to faun, in the woods… And like a faun he finds a nymph… And everything is destined to end up in the fiery apocalypse of air raid… Brand’s Heath is an autobiographical episode of Arno Schmidt’s life. The author, a former prisoner of war, gathering materials for his book, joins a small community and endeavours to survive the aftermath of the greatest national calamity… I consider “intellectual” a title of honor : it is after all man’s most distinguishing characteristic ! If everybody was one, at least brawls would be fought with pens, or with mouths. Would be a considerable improvement ! He hunts for food and other needful stuff, dreams dystopian dreams, writes his book, gets acquainted with some people and contemplates the nature of creativity… – Art for the people ? ! : they yowl with emotion when they hear Czarevitch’s Volga song, and turn icy-cold with boredom at the Orpheus of Chevalier Gluck. Art for the people ? ! : leave that slogan to the Nazis and Communists : it’s just the opposite : the people (everyman !) are obligated to struggle their way to art ! – He even falls in love but all in vain… A man of creative mind always remains a stranger. Dark Mirrors is a post-apocalyptic prognostication… Dark mirror is a mirror of melancholia… By way of precaution, I aimed my carbine’s month at the greasy wreck : the windows thickly dusted; only after I hit it with the butt did the car door open a little. Backseat empty; a skeletal lady at the wheel (so, same as always for the past five years !); well : enjoy your bliss ! But it would be dark soon too, and I still didn’t trust creaturiness : whether ferny ambush or mocking birds : I was ready with ten rounds in the automatic : so pump onward. The nameless protagonist seems to be the only living man left in the world so he is like an intellectual version of the ultimate Robinson Crusoe having not just the desert island but the entire world for himself. And to make his life more comfortable he salvages a lot of things… And I was only in my early forties : if everything went well (?) I could ramble the earth void of man for a long while yet : I needed No One ! The unpopulated world is an ideal place for a loner. Any recluse is a demiurge of his own world.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Nathan "N.R." Gaddis

    Arno Schmidt. Teutonic knight of the heath, well=buried; :deservedly supposedly for reasons not one of us can reckon. I have gathered evidence for a preliminary hearing. I have little doubt that one has come too late; the hangman has assuredly done his work, done his work quite well. Arno has good company. Let you and I step out onto the heath, grab a handful of peat or spade deeply into it -- dig with ‘em if you gottem -- and gander into what’s down there. We postulate that Herr Schmidt has bee Arno Schmidt. Teutonic knight of the heath, well=buried; :deservedly supposedly for reasons not one of us can reckon. I have gathered evidence for a preliminary hearing. I have little doubt that one has come too late; the hangman has assuredly done his work, done his work quite well. Arno has good company. Let you and I step out onto the heath, grab a handful of peat or spade deeply into it -- dig with ‘em if you gottem -- and gander into what’s down there. We postulate that Herr Schmidt has been unjustly unread for longer than many of us have pulled breath :: we need a BREATHER. Saint McElroy, we petition you to send among us your ANGELS that we might BREATH more deeply the engelisch aires. Exhibit 1a). We submit the photographic indication, gathered and preserved for us by Spade Officer, First Rank, Nate D, [linked here] ! ! ; a few pages of Abend mit Goldrand, wherein we see that either this Schmidt is a fool, a madman, a prankster, or a Knight of Letters. Exhibit 1b) Eric, himself a corpse preserved by a similar peat, has proffered corroborating photographic evidence, employing the widely recognized Women and Men standard, [linked here] ;; : furtherly, Eric, in all good conscience much beyond the capacity of this humble Schmidtian, has embarked on the tradition of reading Evening Edged in Gold even as precisely such a tradition is unknown thoroughly to our world, and has provided the following excerpt of this “fairytalefArse”: Watch out, get away from that electric=fents ! -?-:oh, 't's alot worsen barbwire; The shock isn't just 'nasty', that's high=tension. The vet was telling Olmers thother day about how a farmer was climbing over it n toucht it with his 'nutshell'; keeld rite over;lips all blue, 'cookt his balls', 'rippt rite off' ! And they say it kn happen if a man just takes a leak on it. Such excerption, not being legally binding, is certainly convincing to any spade-wielder possessing the correct presuppositions and predispositions. Exhibit 1c) This video, and if ‘viral’ should mean anything, it would infest and shut down our precious internetz. [again, shoveled out of the mould by the bog-corpse Eric] [attention hither]. Exhibit 2) John E. Woods. Exhibit 3) [Dalkey Archive] : or more precisely, Collected Novellas: Collected Early Fiction 1949-1964 :;: Nobodaddy's Children: Scenes from the Life of a Faun, Brand's Heath, Dark Mirrors :;: The Collected Stories of Arno Schmidt :;: Two Novels: The Stony Heart and B/Moondocks. Your Most Honorable Readership :?! I submit that something is wrong not just in Denmark and not merely upon a barren Teutonic heath but that there is something askew with the World of Letters : namelich, either Arno Schmidt should NOT have been so deeply buried, ODOR[stench of corpses!!], there are those among us who would insist that such unreada=babble books should be read by the masses and thus himself must be mad and ought to be re-MANded to a peat bog as deep into which he shall be BURIED :: menschlichmöglich. This is a review of three novellas, but you may believe that they constitute a single novel :: warum nicht? “Scenes from the Life of a Faun,” whose action takes place 1939/1944; “Brand's Heath,” action 1946; “Dark Mirrors,” action 1960. Already you see how these novels might constitute a single history of a point of view of civil-servicehood from within WWII Germany, followed by a refugee vignette digging out of the rubble, and finished up with a post-WWIII survival story of the last remaining human(S??) in Europe and perhaps for as far as we can tell in all of the wide wide WELT. But what about these three novellas? I will tell you :: an author’s work -- his/her WERK -- is a singularity : not a gesamtkunstwerk [Wagner] but a Conceptual Continuity [Zappa]. A diversified unity ; but you see that there is something in a name whereupon one might hang one’s hat. Can you see, from the cozy valley of The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man clear into the dreamy heights upon clouds of Finnegans Wake? Neither could I. But there is a path there unto. And Schmidt: a sample of a novel, of a trilogy, of a collection, of a few pages :: enjoyment follows understanding and understanding is a road. The above exhibits may be taken as self-evident : they are evidence of their very selves. And it is as follows :: these are promises. And such promises strike fear into the heart of the justifiably trepidatious reader. Our trilogy of novels under present review are not of this nature, but only a Portrait on the path thereunto. No columnar play; very little of the etym which holds promise upon the peak [and the Etymites, I should insert here, will also feed quite well upon the BURIED corpus of [Julián Ríos] ] ; BUT there is the re-conVENTionalization of the period, the colon, the ?-mark, etc, a potentiality of convention which Schmidt resurrects into meaning; and there is this warning about the lack of ribbons :: My life ? ! : is not a continuum ! (not simply fractured into white and black pieces by day and night ! For even by day they are all someone else, the fellow who walks to the train; sits in the office; bookworms; stalks through groves; copulates; small-talks; writes; man of a thousand thoughts; of fragmenting categories; who runs; smokes; defecates; listens to the radio; says “Commissioner, sir” : that’s me !) : a tray full of glistening snapshots. Not a continuum, not a continuum ! : that’s how my life runs, how my memories run (like a spasm-shaken man watching a thunderstorm in the night ) : Flash : a naked house in the development bares its teeth amid poison-green shrubbery : night. Flash : white visages are gaping, tongues tatting, fingers teething : night. Flash : tree limbs are standing, boys play pubescing; women are stewing; girls are scamping open-bloused : night ! Flame : me : woe : night ! ! But I cannot experience my life as a majestically unrolling ribbon; not I ! (Proof). Books will teach you how to read them :: and in some possible universe only those books which require that they provide a lesson in their own reading are books which might count as WORTH reading. I shall return to these hallowed halls at a future yet unspecified date with further evidence culled from the Dalkey Archive, three volumes chuck-n-full of Schmidtian fiction. Meanwhile, dear brav reader, shovel-ready, join the Ranks of Friend Eric and get to work upon the masterworks straight-away, unearthing Evening Edged in Gold or impatiently awaiting a revolution in the book=welt which might provide the actualization of the possiblization of the publication of the Woods=ing of Zettel’s Traum :: OR you with trepidation leaking out of the eaves which give shelter to your book shelves, begin early here with the children of Nobodaddy or with either colLECTed stories or the Sammlung of Novellas. Easy does it when ease=ing into the Conceptual Continuity of that solipsistic Stimme upon the Haide. (view spoiler)[And by way of apology to Judge=Jury=Executioner, we lean once again upon the Knight of the Spade, Friend Nate D, for his review Click-a-Likae HERE. (hide spoiler)]

  3. 5 out of 5

    Geoff

    Why darkness & obscurity In all thy works & laws, That none dare eat the fruit but from Thy wily serpent's jaws? -William Blake (To Nobodaddy) ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ Why dost thou hide thyself in clouds, from every searching eye? ~~ ~~ ~~ "...and into the eternal hunting grounds of fantasy : ought to link the identity of the Flying Dutchman and Odysseus sometime with a story. Wind began and the tall firs spoke deep and bellowy." - Dark Mirrors (photos by and of Arno Schmidt) Why darkness & obscurity In all thy works & laws, That none dare eat the fruit but from Thy wily serpent's jaws? -William Blake (To Nobodaddy) ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ Why dost thou hide thyself in clouds, from every searching eye? ~~ ~~ ~~ "...and into the eternal hunting grounds of fantasy : ought to link the identity of the Flying Dutchman and Odysseus sometime with a story. Wind began and the tall firs spoke deep and bellowy." - Dark Mirrors (photos by and of Arno Schmidt)

  4. 4 out of 5

    Nate D

    Arno Schmidt hit the literary ground running in post-WWII West Germany with a series of novellas and this bitter trilogy moving from the war years into the post-apocalyptic future. Stylewise, Schmidt took the lessons of Joyce into territory all his own: it wasn't enough for language to do whatever we wanted it to -- now syntax must follow suit. Thus this reads really like nothing else, a series of fragmentary, poetic bursts of thought and observation that move across each day in jumps and lurche Arno Schmidt hit the literary ground running in post-WWII West Germany with a series of novellas and this bitter trilogy moving from the war years into the post-apocalyptic future. Stylewise, Schmidt took the lessons of Joyce into territory all his own: it wasn't enough for language to do whatever we wanted it to -- now syntax must follow suit. Thus this reads really like nothing else, a series of fragmentary, poetic bursts of thought and observation that move across each day in jumps and lurches without wasting any space on transitions. There's a quote somewhere that the best literature teaches you how to read it, and that's sort of how Schmidt's writing is, gradually coming into focus as you absorb its rhythms and thought-patterns. The Joyce comparisons seem pretty apt -- dense and over-smart, yet simultaneously lewd and funny -- but Schmidt alternates his more abstract and allusive burbles with more direct bits, the whole parsed into smaller, more digestible fragments. And since this is post-war, he's more naturally comfortable at the blending of high and low elements that Joyce dabbled in. (Did Joyce ever attempt science fiction, I wonder?) I'll review the parts separately, as they were published that way. Scenes from the Life of a Fawn: In Germany, in the months leading up to the Second World War, a bored, embittered government clerk is charged with reviewing local village and parish records. The exact purpose of his task is never really elaborated, but it can be presumed that he is supposed to be locating families of Jewish or other unacceptable heritage. Instead, in what petty rebellion is open to him, he spends his time tracking the movements of a Napoleanic deserter with whom he feels some across-age affinity. Once the style sinks in, this is actually pretty brisk and entertaining without a lot of wasted words. Workplace buffoonery, extremely vivid descriptions of clouds, some rather interesting discussion of German lit (as in, way more focused and narratively useful than the literature chapters of Against Nature). It is strange, though, to be reading a description of this era of Germany from so close within -- and by an author who was conscripted into the German Army, no less. Like a good post-war German, he's quick to denounce everything going on before the war, the "correct" response for anyone who wanted a future. Schmidt's (and his narrator's) bitterness and disgust really do seem sincere, but still, it's a little uneasy spend time watching normal Germans at the height of Nazi-ism going on about their lives. Maybe that is part of the eerie interest here too, though. And Schmidt doesn't really let anyone off the hook -- though his protagonist hates the system, he's still essentially a complicit cog in it. A warning to moderate or distracted dissidents. 3.5 stars or so. : And it was another Reichstag session, with Hurrah and Heil and glee club and lusty bellowing; for closers : "passed unanimously". (Plus : "A song !". And were so proud : in England there's always that disgusting pro and con in parliment : but we're united, from top to bottom !). And throughout the populace the serene, happy conviction : the Fuhrer will take care of it ! God, are the Germans stupid ! 95% ! (I.e., the others are no better either : just let the Americans elect themselves a Hindenburg sometime !) Brand's Heath: Schmidt's first novel, and it kinda shows, both in the simpler material (war survivors begin rebuilding lives in the countryside) and a slightly less refined style (though his formatting was always and forever his own, a clean, definite break with all pre-war lit -- or really all lit other than himself). As with Faun we're almost entirely in the narrator's head, but since the narrator is a version of Schmidt himself, his erudition and wide-ranging knowledge of various languages and plenty of authors I've never heard of, classical germanic and otherwise, assures that tons of the material will be completely inaccessible to causal readers (me) without serious study. And with its somewhat narrower story and subject, the allusions make up far more of the content. Many of the best parts, to me, were actually the bits Schmidt's avatar read aloud from his own and others' writing, as these function best as straight storytelling. Likewise a couple excellent dream-recitations and account of crazy devil-in-the-woods style local folklore. So impressive again, but seems less compelling to the non-german, non-Schmidt reader, perhaps. 2.5 stars. Dark Mirrors: Ah, here we go again: in post atomic-armageddon 1960, another Schmidt-version wanders the depopulated north-German countryside, musing on the lack of bureaucrats (at last), sending ironic postcards that no postal employees will ever carry and no recipient will ever see ("returning enclosed: the Messiah", a long hilarious complaint letter to Reader's Digest), and attempting to scrape out an existence amongst surviving wild foxes and horses. A much better balance of eerie finely-observed landscape, the mundane adventures of seeking sustenance and shelter, and naturally weird internal musings and allusions, but these much more intelligibly worked in for someone not as familiar with Schmidt's sources. Totally entertaining so far. This one was actually written between the other two. 3.5 stars.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan

    The KIRKUS REVIEW of Faun which, unusually for them, does not irritate the hell out of me: It's too bad, really, that this 1953 novella didn't arrive here before the 1980 translation of Schmidt's dauntingly dense and Joycean Evening Edged in Gold: it might have made the latter's excesses and impossibilities seem a bit more coherent. For, as this shorter but no less literary book amply demonstrates, Schmidt (1914-1979) was a continuously outrageous imagist and a kind of stonemason of self-percept The KIRKUS REVIEW of Faun which, unusually for them, does not irritate the hell out of me: It's too bad, really, that this 1953 novella didn't arrive here before the 1980 translation of Schmidt's dauntingly dense and Joycean Evening Edged in Gold: it might have made the latter's excesses and impossibilities seem a bit more coherent. For, as this shorter but no less literary book amply demonstrates, Schmidt (1914-1979) was a continuously outrageous imagist and a kind of stonemason of self-perceptive prose: block by block, the story builds on, knocking the sides off anything that finally isn't about literary style. Set in 1939, the book focuses on Heinrich During, a bureaucrat with large scorn for his Nazi bosses and for his countrymen's willful obtuseness; During also has a frigid wife and a comically throbbing lust for an office typist, Fraulein Kramer. And, in a cascade of tropes, each one paragraph-sized and introduced by a seemingly unconnected rubric (which however acts as the note to which the successive prose-block is tuned), During observes the moon in a dozen flowery aspects, considers the merits of Gnosticism and the works of Wieland, surveys a local district, or experiences a department store: ""Rifles barrel bamboo reptiles glasses twitter dunes of coffee lips gone crooked buckled clucking words out trotting rippling hot-dogs bronzed with dots of mustard scales with clawing pointers subtle yellow tiny show-offs thick potboilers brash trash photos rigid jackets upright stairways ramble rosy gristled earfuls napes of buffet-worthy matriarchs with earnest censure luggage boxing doorways flailing as you leave."" All the while, too, During prepares for the catastrophe of defeat he knows the Allies have in store: he lays in supplies at a forest hide-out--to which he brings Fraulein Kramer during the climactic, horrifying, gorgeously described firestorm (Schmidt's style really pays off here). A fine, stimulating book altogether--which, in Woods' extraordinarily vital and brilliant translation, may do what the white-elephant-like Evening Edged in Gold failed to do: establish Schmidt--whom the Germans consider a major modernist figure--as an important writer for the English-speaking literary world." :: see, that was actually pretty good - usually Kirkus reviews make me want to go on a murderous rampage of hyperbolic rage, but with this one, we all good. So, Faun was the best of the three (and, were it on its own, would get a full 5 star raving), Heath the worst (lets say 3 stars). Dark Mirror was a bit like a more fucked up and eccentric version of The Road if there were no kid and no(?) other people. Oh, and no hope (lets say 4 stars for that one, because god forbid I don't hold up the score cards). Would Schmidt? Schmidt Wood. Jarno Schmood. To read this in translation is obviously to read something else, a text with a chimeric author. But what a lovely writer this two-headed beast is! There is a beauty in the sentences in Faun in particular, some of which I quote in my updates, that stunned me. And placed, as they are, within the textual eccentricity, they gain a power from their lyricism that would be denied otherwise. Go read Nathan, Ronald and Nate's reviews. Oh and look at Geoff's pretty pictures.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Ronald Morton

    I pulled this definition off a random website (I’m lazy and don’t feel like going and rummaging through the bookshelves to supplement this with a Joyce reference): Nobodaddy: The silliest-sounding of Blake's gods, Nobodaddy is a comical reduction of imaginary, abstract, paternal sky-gods on the model of Zeus, Jupiter and other scary and punitive God-the-Fathers. First experience reading Schmidt: Immensely impressed; glad I have others; a bit pissed that I’m pretty certain I at one point bought al I pulled this definition off a random website (I’m lazy and don’t feel like going and rummaging through the bookshelves to supplement this with a Joyce reference): Nobodaddy: The silliest-sounding of Blake's gods, Nobodaddy is a comical reduction of imaginary, abstract, paternal sky-gods on the model of Zeus, Jupiter and other scary and punitive God-the-Fathers. First experience reading Schmidt: Immensely impressed; glad I have others; a bit pissed that I’m pretty certain I at one point bought all 4 of the Dalkey issues, but can now only locate 2; don’t actually remember the other 2 arriving; I was in the middle of a heavy buying spree during that time though. Need to organize my books prior to buying them again though. Two major observations from reading these three pieces – 1) Schmidt removes almost all unnecessary action from his narrative, mostly transitions or physical movement of location (so, as opposed to having the narrator travel from place to place, you – as the reader – simply drop in (and pull back) from the narrator whenever Schmidt has something to impart. So, for instance, the narrator might leave for work, and in the next paragraph he’s at work, with only context to show that). This gives the feel of collage to begin with – I was uncertain what specifically was happening with narrative chronology for a while in the first book – but eventually coalesces into an understanding that you’re reading a progressive narrative, constantly moving in a single direction. Once I wrapped my head around that the reading went faster; also, I kind of love the way Schmidt writes / composes: I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen it’s like. 2) The punctuation is a bit crazy – John E. Woods (fucking John E. Woods) comments on this in his translator’s introduction: A note is also in order about the unusual punctuation of these texts, which is sure to look strange to the American eye. It reproduces that found in the German original (i.e., the “Bargfeld Edition” [Haffmans Verlag], the most accurate to date). But why such slavish faithfulness in a translation? Perhaps Schmidt’s own “Calculations III” may help explain: We are not dealing with a mania for originality or love of the grand gesture, but with . . . the necessary refinement of the writer’s tool. I shall begin with punctuation. - It can be used as stenografy ! When I write : , the out=come (with an “=”, I despise Websterian rules for compound words : it’s not an outcome, but an out=come !) is that the colon becomes the inquiring opened face, the question mark the torsion of the body turned to ask, and the whole of "The Question” retains its validity - no : is far better ! : the reader is intentionally not force-fed a stale salad of words, a la ... Let us retain the lovely=essential freedom to reproduce a hesitation precisely : “well - hm - : Idunno - - : can we do that ....... ” (Instead of the rigidly prescribed : “Well, I don’t know . . .” . . . Perhaps many will wonder why I sometimes place the period before the parenthesis; sometimes after; sometimes use none at all : I have my reasons -in almost every case (and with a little thought, anyone could discover them.) That “almost every” is a hedge-yes, Schmidt usually had his reasons, but sometimes he was careless. Despite his avowals of meticulously orchestrated punctuation, I must admit I often find no real consistency; usage varies from text to text and can even seem out of sync within a given text. Which is helpful both as an explanation, and even more so as a reassurance to the reader to not get to caught up in what Schmidt is doing – a specific understanding is unnecessary to enjoy the work. The texts themselves are loosely related – again, Woods discusses this in his introduction, where it appears likely the linkage between the three might have more a happy accident than a truly planned trilogy of works – though they were written and published in an order different than published here, the chronological (in-story chronology) order presented is what Schmidt claimed was the intent all along; though an argument could be made that they three works operate as a trilogy: it’s more likely that the overall feel of the works being similar is mostly related to Schmidt’s singular voice than any true linkage. This is an excellent set of works – truly original, briskly paced, and, taken as whole (intended or not), vast in scope. I would say that the first and the third pieces are the strongest of the three, with the second not quite containing the same energy as the others – this is likely due to it’s more contained setting – and I think I liked the final work the best, and found that Schmidt’s style of narrative was best suited by the setting and story. Great stuff, check it out.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Tobias

    Usually, comparisons to Joyce are not much more than a semi-arbitrary label which usually translates to something like 'long and difficult'. But with Schmidt, for the first time in ages, I feel like the comparison makes some kind sense. Not because they are thematically or structurally similar, but because the experience of reading Schmidt resembles the experience of reading Joyce for the first time. However learn'd you are, you still only barely scratch the surface. It's a slow and progressive Usually, comparisons to Joyce are not much more than a semi-arbitrary label which usually translates to something like 'long and difficult'. But with Schmidt, for the first time in ages, I feel like the comparison makes some kind sense. Not because they are thematically or structurally similar, but because the experience of reading Schmidt resembles the experience of reading Joyce for the first time. However learn'd you are, you still only barely scratch the surface. It's a slow and progressive re-wiring of the literary parts of the brain. But it's a thrill to be humiliated like this every once in a while. Maybe Schmidt appeals so much to me (to us?) because he is us, or at least the logical endpoint for literary folks. Literature is the oxygen of Schmidt's prose; it cannot work without it, and we, as readers, read along with an author who is as much of a reader as a writer.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Harris

    I thought constantly of what Deleuze and Guattari might say about this book. Schmidt's humor in this English translation feels like the humor D&G probably found in the French translation of Kafka. The search for freedom is abundantly present as well. Going into this, I had only really looked at his massively intimidating Bottom's Dream. However, these stories are easy to read. They often feel similar to Gass instead of someone more opaque. This is really some of the best ficition I've read in a w I thought constantly of what Deleuze and Guattari might say about this book. Schmidt's humor in this English translation feels like the humor D&G probably found in the French translation of Kafka. The search for freedom is abundantly present as well. Going into this, I had only really looked at his massively intimidating Bottom's Dream. However, these stories are easy to read. They often feel similar to Gass instead of someone more opaque. This is really some of the best ficition I've read in a while. "(Since he found no boundary within himself, he hated everything that was border and boundary post, and whoever had erected them)." "My life ? ! : is not a continuum ! (not simply fractured into white and black pieces by day and night ! For even by day they are all someone else, the fellow who walks to the train; sits in the office; bookworms; stalks through groves; copulates; small-talks; writes; man of a thousand thoughts; of fragmenting categories; who runs; smokes; defecates; listens to the radio; says 'Commissioner, sir' : that's me !) : a tray full of glistening snapshot."

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jim Elkins

    Good and Bad Postapocalyptic Novels I'm reviewing the third of the three novels collected here, "Dark Mirrors." It's a post-apocalyptic novel, like Cormac McCarthy's "The Road." But "Dark Mirrors" is much sharper, more inventive, immediate, and resourceful. Reading Schmidt really shows how lugubrious, portentous, overblown, grandiose, and stentorian McCarthy is. McCarthy is muddy, muddled, and misguidedly ascetic. Beckett was McCarthy's model, of course, and it was not an appropriate model, becau Good and Bad Postapocalyptic Novels I'm reviewing the third of the three novels collected here, "Dark Mirrors." It's a post-apocalyptic novel, like Cormac McCarthy's "The Road." But "Dark Mirrors" is much sharper, more inventive, immediate, and resourceful. Reading Schmidt really shows how lugubrious, portentous, overblown, grandiose, and stentorian McCarthy is. McCarthy is muddy, muddled, and misguidedly ascetic. Beckett was McCarthy's model, of course, and it was not an appropriate model, because Beckett described alienation so much better. Schmidt's book is a tonic, because the two people in it (only two, with three or four others mentioned) remain entirely human: they're petty, irascible, easily mollified and distracted, sometimes profound but usually superficial. There's a strong reality effect here: if the world is actually destroyed, people won't lose their sense of humor and put on cowls. They'll still make ridiculous jokes and behave like children. There are limits to Schmidt, however, and in this novel it's his continuously ecstatic engagement with whatever is at hand, moment by moment. He writes in an unusual format: the first line of every paragraph sticks out to the left, and the first words of that line are italicized. They serve to telegraph that paragraph's interest, like the title of a poem or the headline of a newspaper article: "In the modern ruins," "Deep melancholy," "Wood, lots of wood!" etc. After several hundred pages, it's difficult to keep up with this, emotionally and in terms of attention. But the kaleidoscope of sharply focused, fragmented, unpredictable centers of attention is wholly his, and it's a tremendous invention. In the end I stopped reading halfway through another novel in the series, "Scenes From the Life of a Faun": it is also a spectacular achievement, with more energy per page than most novels can manage, but the continuous skittish shifting of attention also began to wear on me. It wasn't quite counterbalanced by the narrative (love, loss, history, recovery). But this is how I respond to Schmidt: I've started several of his novels, including the largest (see www.writingwithimages.com) and I've seldom managed to keep up the manic energy he requires, the level of fanatical devotion, the hysterics.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Griffin Alexander

    This is my first Schmidt, and I am duly impressed. Here I was introduced to his most original and effective style of collated moments set apart like an annotated bibliography (i.e., each paragraph is reverse indented, the first line beginning in italics & running the length of the page with each additional line indented at its left-margin). Within the first page of Scenes From the Life of a Faun, Schmidt seems to elucidate this style aesthetically: My life ? ! : is not a continuum ! (not simply f This is my first Schmidt, and I am duly impressed. Here I was introduced to his most original and effective style of collated moments set apart like an annotated bibliography (i.e., each paragraph is reverse indented, the first line beginning in italics & running the length of the page with each additional line indented at its left-margin). Within the first page of Scenes From the Life of a Faun, Schmidt seems to elucidate this style aesthetically: My life ? ! : is not a continuum ! (not simply fractured into white and black pieces by day and night ! For even by day they are all someone else, the fellow who walks to the train; sits in the office; bookworms; stalks through groves; copulates; small-talks; writes; man of a thousand thoughts; of fragmenting categories; who runs; smokes; defecates; listens to the radio; says "Commissioner, sir" : that's me !) : a tray full of glistening snapshots. Faun itself is worth the entirety of the book and makes great use of Schmidt's inventive and infamous compound words , though he has yet to start to throw the <=>, or to break up other larger compound words in said fashion. Its perspective and style is novel and has more of an affection for an American sensibility to post-war experimental fiction in terms of its plot (i.e., it uses the arcane or detailed historical anomaly and applies it to modern issues of existential dread). The other two are worthwhile in their thematic relation, but markedly less mature and clearly earlier pieces of Schmidt's work—their pacing is simply not as good, nor their content as rich. Faun packs it in dense, rendering its 96 pages as having the impression of a much larger novel and world, while the latter two feel almost like stretched-out short stories, with a thin=Schmidt as first person narrator. Who knows though, maybe I'll come around as I sit on having read them.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Pavel

    “Where was the wind exactly?” (p. 200) Generally speaking, Schmidt’s language betrays a suspicion of the metaphysical implications of the assumption that words have a single origin. Insofar as Schmidt’s language bears a concern with its origins, it does so without the intention of legitimising its presence. Is it under the auspices of such suspicion that we should read him? It was in this way that I read him. In consequence, history became at once the light productive of shadows, and the shadows “Where was the wind exactly?” (p. 200) Generally speaking, Schmidt’s language betrays a suspicion of the metaphysical implications of the assumption that words have a single origin. Insofar as Schmidt’s language bears a concern with its origins, it does so without the intention of legitimising its presence. Is it under the auspices of such suspicion that we should read him? It was in this way that I read him. In consequence, history became at once the light productive of shadows, and the shadows produced – Schmidt’s language is the thing.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Bárbara

    4,5. "Momentos de la vida de un fauno" es absolutamente fantástico. 4,5. "Momentos de la vida de un fauno" es absolutamente fantástico.

  13. 4 out of 5

    César

    Abandono después de "Momentos de la vida de un fauno", al que se refiere la puntuación. Decepción. Abandono después de "Momentos de la vida de un fauno", al que se refiere la puntuación. Decepción.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Armin

    Zwischenbericht (Ausführliche Rezi mit Würdigung aller drei Teile folgt) Teil II Brand‘s Haide Subjektiver Faktor - Warum ich dieses Buch nicht mag Brand‘s Haide ist so etwas wie Arno Schmidts Beitrag zur Trümmerliteratur, denn hier werden die üblichen Themen der unmittelbaren Nachkriegsjahre abgearbeitet, auch wenn diese Erzählung sechs Jahre nach dem Kriegsende entstanden ist. Die entscheidende Differenz ist natürlich wieder der Arno-Schmidt-Faktor, das misanthropische Element, der seine Bücher i Zwischenbericht (Ausführliche Rezi mit Würdigung aller drei Teile folgt) Teil II Brand‘s Haide Subjektiver Faktor - Warum ich dieses Buch nicht mag Brand‘s Haide ist so etwas wie Arno Schmidts Beitrag zur Trümmerliteratur, denn hier werden die üblichen Themen der unmittelbaren Nachkriegsjahre abgearbeitet, auch wenn diese Erzählung sechs Jahre nach dem Kriegsende entstanden ist. Die entscheidende Differenz ist natürlich wieder der Arno-Schmidt-Faktor, das misanthropische Element, der seine Bücher irgendwie gleich, aber auch qualitativ miteinander vergleichbar macht. Und neben dem Faun und dem Steinernen Herz wirkt diese Liebesgeschichte unter Flüchtlingen vergleichsweise flach, aber vielleicht hat AS auch nur zu intensiv und immer wieder dieselbe Saite strapaziert, jedenfalls für meine Verhältnisse. Mich nervt der besserwisserische Bücherwurm, der sich mit welchen literarischen Vorlieben auch immer, irgendwie durchs Dritte Reich und den Krieg gewurschtelt hat, ganz schön an. Auch wenn er dabei unvorstellbar richtig gelegen hat, so vergällt einem diese plakative Rechthaberei mit der er, etwa zu Beginn von Seelandschaft, mit der Tür ins Haus fällt und erst einmal seine Füße auf den Tisch legt, ehe er zu seiner literarischen Sache kommt, die Lektüre. Schmidt ist mit seiner Rechthaberei gegenüber der unterbelichteten Mitwelt so gut oder schlecht wie eine ganz nett aussehende Nachbarin, die permanent über die Ungerechtigkeiten klagt, die ihr die bisherigen Männer in ihrem Leben angetan haben, während sie einem unterschwellig das Gefühl vermittelt, man könnte vielleicht eines Tages der Erlöser sein, während einem längst klar ist, dass langfristig nicht mehr als die nächste Schurken- oder Versagerrolle drin ist. Wer es nicht ganz so hoch hängen will, der mag sich eine liebe Oma vorstellen, die unausgesetzt und immer dieselben Themenbereiche runterbetet. Wie dem auch sei, mir erscheint Arno Schmidt inzwischen als misanthropisch-literarisches Pendant zu Modern Talking, nur war die Maxi-Single ein Phänomen der Siebziger und Achtziger Jahre, während Arno Schmidt in den Fünfzigern seinem Bau vor sich hin schrieb und die gerade noch einmal so davon gekommenen Täter und Mitläufer mit seinem Hohn und seiner Häme überzog. Und da diese permanente Rumkläfferei eines Bücherwurms, der sich wie die Wiedergeburt von Till Eulenspiegel vorkommt, etwa ein Viertels des Buches ausmacht, weitere zwanzig Prozent sind instrumentalisierte Vorlagen von Fouqué oder Dokumente aus seiner Familiengeschichte, bleibt nicht mehr viel für die Gegenwartshandlung übrig. Allerdings ist das Mit- und Nebeneinander von Flüchtlingen mit seinen zahlreichen Organisationsproblemen auch nicht unbedingt der Grundstoff für Weltliteratur. (Auch Arno Surminski, dem es meist gelingt, Alltäglichkeit spannender als einen einschlägigen Thriller zu gestalten, führt seine Leser in Kudenow durch allerlei Durststrecken.) Der Plot Ein entlassener Kriegsgefangener namens Schmidt, der nicht mehr in seine alte Heimat zurückkehren kann, wird nach Blakenhof eingewiesen, wo er ein wenig in Sachen Fouqué recherchieren will und schon beim Einzug zwei Frauen als potenzielle Ziele ausmacht. Anfangs hat es der Neuankömmling schwer, doch man muss ja miteinander auskommen, zudem sind die beiden Frauen ebenfalls Schlesier. Ein Paket von der Schwester aus Amerika macht den Helden, der am Anfang sogar eine leere Fischdose als Trinkgefäß nutzen muss, zum Sugardaddy für die beiden Frauen. Die Arbeiterin Grete hat mehr Substanz und ist in ihn verliebt, schätzt ihre Chancen neben Lore aber so weit realistisch ein, zumal sich Schmidt sich von vornherein auf Lore kapriziert hat, die er im Prestigeduell dem von vornherein als Hohlkopf abqualifizierten Lehrer abjagt. Die Literatur ist zunächst das Mittel zum Erfolg, bietet aber keine gesicherte Perspektive, insofern genießt er ein Idyll mit vorhersehbarem Ablaufdatum, auch wenn ihm das nicht so recht bewusst ist. Zehn Pakete Kaffee dürften nichts daran ändern, diese schmerzvolle Einsicht kommt ihm, als alles zu spät ist und er die Schmisse im Gesicht seines Widersachers mit dem uneinholbaren Vorsprung in Sachen Finanzen und Sicherheit gesehen hat. Nach meiner Lesart erwies sich die Falschmeldung von dem Russenüberfall als Entscheidungshelfer für Lore, falls es denn überhaupt ein Schwanken gibt, in Sachen Charakteristik der Mitmenschen und ihrer Reaktionen bietet die Erzählung nicht viel, das mag der an Ignoranz grenzenden Selbstbezogenheit der Erzählers Schmidt geschuldet sein, der in seiner bildungsmäßigen Überlegenheitspose und seinem Paket-Machismo wenig emotionale Intelligenz aufbringt, die eher bei Grete verortet scheint. Trotzdem bietet mir Brand‘s Haide zu wenig Menschlichkeit, in seiner rückwärtsgewandten Oppositionshaltung verpasst der Nostalgiker Schmidt die Gegenwart. Der romantische Reflex mit der Tochter des Ritters, die lieber in einer selbstbestimmten Hölle als am Hof des Kaisers und unter dem frommen Diktat leben möchte, bringt diese Haltung eindrucksvoll mit sämtlichem romantischem Zauber beeindruckend zum Ausdruck. Aber auch dieser faszinierende Einbruch in die schäbige Gegenwart von Blakenhof kann mein persönliches Unbehagen an dieser literarischen Einseitigkeit nicht besänftigen. So kurz Brand‘s Haide auch sein mag, die Lektüre gleicht einer literarischen Wüstenwanderung mit ganz wenigen Oasen. Als Psychogramm eines literarisch hochgradig gebildeten Ignoranten hat Brand's Haide sicherlich fünf Sterne verdient, das Lesevergnügen tendiert gegen einen Stern.

  15. 4 out of 5

    J.W.D. Nicolello

    Italicize, italicize pull out = hbis'eyes = italicize Arno Schmidt, the mastodon of post-WW II diction. I assume Heinriech Bull is around there somewhere, but nobodaddy cares about Ginricky Bowl wtihout a subscripotion to Oprah Winfrey amagazinea. itsa trilogy in reversed order, configured over 100-proof schnapps. Good news! That's what had the sad grocerwoman smiling earlier, as we packed up my library books and she commented on my healthy, heal=thy lunch of a lime and a bottle of tonic water an Italicize, italicize pull out = hbis'eyes = italicize Arno Schmidt, the mastodon of post-WW II diction. I assume Heinriech Bull is around there somewhere, but nobodaddy cares about Ginricky Bowl wtihout a subscripotion to Oprah Winfrey amagazinea. itsa trilogy in reversed order, configured over 100-proof schnapps. Good news! That's what had the sad grocerwoman smiling earlier, as we packed up my library books and she commented on my healthy, heal=thy lunch of a lime and a bottle of tonic water and a sta;le roll. "it didoesnt get any better then that," she said readjusting eye-patch. Drinking and reading I thought she must do it often. Life gets us that way. What else after the atomic bomb. Take a shit, read Schmidt; masturbate, read Montaigne. Tattoo the wicked cross! Life, you whoring interlude. Great disruptance. Find your love with a library stacked with Schmidt and Symbiopsychotaxiplasm on the brain. Good=bye ;.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Brooke

    OK. Not too memorable.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Facundo Melillo

    «La especie humana, por naturaleza, está dotada de todo lo necesario para percibir, observar, comparar y diferenciar las cosas. Para estas operaciones no solo tiene a su entera disposición las experiencias de épocas anteriores y las acotaciones de una cantidad de hombres sagaces que, en la mayoría de los casos, vieron correctamente. Gracias a estas experiencias y observaciones es evidente desde hace mucho tiempo bajo qué leyes naturales debe vivir y actuar el hombre ―sea la que fuere la sociedad «La especie humana, por naturaleza, está dotada de todo lo necesario para percibir, observar, comparar y diferenciar las cosas. Para estas operaciones no solo tiene a su entera disposición las experiencias de épocas anteriores y las acotaciones de una cantidad de hombres sagaces que, en la mayoría de los casos, vieron correctamente. Gracias a estas experiencias y observaciones es evidente desde hace mucho tiempo bajo qué leyes naturales debe vivir y actuar el hombre ―sea la que fuere la sociedad y la circunstancia actual que lo determine― para ser feliz según su especie. Gracias a ellas, todo lo que es útil o nocivo para la especie en su totalidad, en todos los tiempos y bajo todas las circunstancias, está irrefutablemente establecido; las reglas cuya aplicación puede ponernos a resguardo de errores y conclusiones erróneas ya se encontraron; con tranquilizadora certidumbre podemos distinguir lo que es bello de lo que es feo, lo que es justo de lo que es injusto, lo que es bueno de lo que es malo, podemos saber por qué las cosas son como son y en qué medida son así; no podemos inventar ninguna tontería, vicio o maldad cuya insensatez o carácter nocivo no hayan sido probados hace mucho tiempo con la misma rigurosidad que un teorema de Euclides. Y pese a todo esto, y pese a todo esto, los hombres, desde hace varios miles de años, vuelven a ese mismo círculo de tonterías, errores o abusos, y no devienen más inteligentes, ni por las experiencias ajenas ni por las propias; resumiendo, en el mejor de los casos un individuo puede volverse más gracioso, más sagaz, más erudito, pero nunca más sabio.» "¡¿ El sol?!: ¡Un loco furioso que allá arriba se pasea en su carro de fuego, masa ígnea, de estridentes líquidos en fusión! (¡Y nosotros en nuestra decencia lo llamamos aún «astro» y como seres bien educados alabamos el velado resplandor de este infernal semillero de males!) Le escupí en su manchada cara a ese sol. Desmenucé la tierra con mis tacones y de furor hice que saltaran los botones de mi camisa que dejó al descubierto un incipiente vello cubierto de sudor. De rabia me puse a golpear la horquilla de un tronco pensando en ese malhadado inútil que estaba allá arriba. ¡Según dicen lo ve todo, lo oye todo, lo huele todo! ―¡Por cierto que no lo envidio nada!― ¡Y ahora hace que se desencadene una nueva guerra! ¡¿La habría tenido prevista en su presunto plan cósmico?!"

  18. 5 out of 5

    Holly

    4.5 stars. Reminded me of Ingmar Bergman films. Sexy. Sui generis.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Sebastian

    Beeindruckend. Dank Schmidts unnachahmlicher Sprachverdichtung ist es, als ob man noch einmal lesen lernt.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Eckhard

  21. 5 out of 5

    Nikita Sukhanov

  22. 5 out of 5

    Peter Milne

  23. 5 out of 5

    Tom

  24. 4 out of 5

    Philip Challinor

  25. 5 out of 5

    Eric Verbugt

  26. 5 out of 5

    --------

  27. 4 out of 5

    Miguel Huezo-Mixco

  28. 4 out of 5

    Miguel Angel

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jadai

  30. 5 out of 5

    David

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