The Kraus Project

Jonathan Franzen

A hundred years ago, the Viennese satirist Karl Kraus was among the most penetrating and prophetic writers in Europe: a relentless critic of the popular media’s manipulation of reality, the dehumanizing machinery of technology and consumerism, and the jingoistic rhetoric of a fading empire. But even though his followers included Franz Kafka and Walter Benjamin, he remained something of a lonely prophet, and few people today are familiar with his work. Thankfully, Jonathan Franzen is one of them. In THE KRAUS PROJECT, Franzen not only presents his definitive new translations of Kraus but annotates them spectacularly, with supplementary notes from the Kraus scholar Paul Reitter and the Austrian writer Daniel Kehlmann. Kraus was a notoriously cantankerous and difficult author, and in Franzen he has found his match: a novelist unafraid to voice unpopular opinions strongly, a critic capable of untangling Kraus’s often dense arguments. While Kraus lampoons the iconic German writer Heinrich Heine and celebrates his own literary heroes, Franzen’s annotations soar over today’s cultural landscape and then dive down into a deeply personal recollection of his first year out of college, when he fell in love with Kraus. Painstakingly wrought, strikingly original in form, THE KRAUS PROJECT is a feast of thought, passion, and literature.

Reviews of The Kraus Project

  • From the reviews of The Kraus Project:

    ‘Franzen is still saying something important. Also Kraus can be a joy … you can understand why Franzen likes him, and he sees a dearth of such elegance today’ Sunday Times

    ‘The Kraus Project is tremendously readable and is refreshingly sceptical of the cult of digital cool. Franzen’s prose has an appealing briskness and polemical force, quite different in style from the high burnish of his long, deliberative, multi-layered literary novels … as an exercise in controlled rage and as a celebration of and introduction to Karl Kraus it works just so’ Financial Times