Fringe Elements

Monica Carter on Adrian Nathan West’s tr. of Josef Winkler’s Natura Morta

“With proponents such as Elfriede Jelinek and Thomas Bernhard, it’s difficult to understand why Josef Winkler hasn’t garnered more of an English-speaking audience. He’s won many literary prizes in Germany and his native Austria, including the Alfred Döblin Prize for his novella, Natura Morta, in 2001. Winkler hasn’t had many works translated into English but thankfully, that seems to be changing with the release of When the Time Comes in 2013, Natura Morta in 2014 and Graveyard of Bitter Oranges in 2015, both by Contra Mundum Press and translated by Adrian West.

In Natura Morta, a novella that reads like a demonic script version of Christopher Isherwood’s Goodbye to Berlin directed by Michael Haneke, Winkler stays true to his themes of Catholicism, homoeroticism and death. In just over ninety pages, his indefatigable sensory detail pulses and throbs, rots and stinks, foams and drips, sweats and sticks so that the reader cannot escape the suffocating reality of the Roman marketplace, Piazza Vittorio Emanuele.”

Read the full piece here: Three Percent

 

Fringe Elements

Shenanigans: Robert Musil

Robert Musil’s Thought Flights reviewed by mark Jay Mirsky

“There are writers who draw readers into their magnetic fields so that everything they write is of interest—because the author’s dreams, thoughts, questions, do not simply mirror the reader’s but take him or her through the looking glass into a secret world. Literature in this sense is not an entertainment, but an initiation. … Thought Flights, the most recent publication of Musil’s work is such a valuable addition to his published work. The handsome edition of Contra Mundum Press has a long, thoughtful introduction by Genese Grill. She speaks both to the complexity of translating Musil and to the psychology of his prose, particularly in the feullitons, short pieces which make up a significant number of the pieces in this collection. They may seem at first glance as Grill remarks, using a critical phrase of Musil’s like “soap bubbles,” or “shenanigans,” Spielerei, but in fact like his major opus, The Man without Qualities, they attempt to explore “the other condition.” She defines Spielerei in her introduction as, “timeless states hovering between decision and act, like Kafka’s.” —  Mark Jay Mirsky

Full review here: Numéro Cinq (July 2015)

 

Shenanigans: Robert Musil

Natura Morta review

“With rare exceptions the sentences are beautifully balanced (much also to the credit of translator West), and as laden with visuals as a feast table in the era of the Dutch masters was loaded down with victuals. The omniscient narrator is flawlessly neutral, allowing the images, the minimal action, and the character’s reactions to the events of this single day in a Roman square tell the story. I was reminded slightly of Alain Robbe-Grillet’s dispassionate voice, but Winkler, despite complete emotional disengagement—even when narrating in gruesome detail a butcher splitting open the head of the lamb or a hare—somehow conveys more warmth than Robbe-Grillet. … With its open love of the sensuous, [Natura Morta] lingers curiously long in the mind, staining memory a subtle hue in the way that, hours after the sun has disappeared behind the horizon, the sky still holds its glow.”

For the complete review: Vincent Czyz, The Arts Fuse (June 2, 2014).

Natura Morta review

Winkler & PEN World Voices Festival

A Literary Quartet

With: Sjon, Siri Hustvedt, Geert Mak, Josef Winkler, moderated by John Freeman and Morgan Meis

Wednesday 30th April

7–8:30 pm

The Public Theater, 425 Lafayette Street, NYC

In the first of two speed-chess style interviews, writer-editors Morgan Meis and John Freeman speak with acclaimed Festival participants from across the globe.  Each writer — Iceland’s Sjon, Austria’s Josef Winkler, the Netherland’s Geert Mak, and the United States’ own Siri Hustvedt — is a master from his or her own country. Don’t miss the chance to hear these fine writers speak about topics including religion, art, and craft.

 

* * *

For more on Josef Winkler, see the following links:

“I am the eternal altar boy” (interview with Winkler): Signandsight

Bernard Banoun & Adrian West discuss translating Winkler & more: Quarterly Conversation

An excerpt from Winkler’s Natura Morta: A Roman Novella in BODY: POETRY.PROSE.WORD

K. Thomas Kahn reviews When the Time Comes & Natura Morta: Numero Cinq

Excerpts from Graveyard of Bitter Oranges: Paris Review

 

 

Winkler & PEN World Voices Festival

Proustitute on Winkler

… two additional fictions by Winkler were published in the past year by Contra Mundum, When the Time Comes (1998/2013) and Natura Morta: A Roman Novella (2001/2014), both translated assiduously by Adrian West, who, to use his own words (as applied to Winkler’s prose), is able to render the “painstaking … visual detail” and “attention to the musicality of phrases” found in the original German texts with a skill that honors Winkler’s writing as a “writing-against.”

Winkler eschews a traditional plot; instead, narrative fragments work together by means of repetition to complicate his vision of modern life. But single scenes can also be understood on their own terms, if one considers the images and their relation to the overall thematics of the text.

 . . . 

Winkler’s imagistic prose shows debts to the cinema. In one scene, Piccoletto spies a videocassette of “the film Sciuscià by Vittorio de Sica” “[a]top the apricots and white peaches” carried in a plastic bag by an anonymous woman on a streetcar. This mention of de Sica’s first major work as a director—filmed in 1946 and translated in English as Shoeshine—reveals how images in Winkler function similarly to those in a neorealist film; not only do many of the series of images contain potent mixtures of the sacred and the profane, but they overvalue the image itself (in its repetition and in its recurrence) in ways also reminiscent of auteurs such as Michelangelo Antonioni.

K. Thomas Kahn, Numero Cinq (February 2, 2014). 

Click on the journal title to read the full review.

Proustitute on Winkler