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Radio Dialogs II

Arno Schmidt

Translated from the German with an Introduction by John E. Woods

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Price: U.S. $19.95
Arno Schmidt
Radio Dialogs II
Series No.: 075
ISBN: 978-1-892295-80-4, Pages: 320
German Literature, Nonfiction

Buy the Radio Dialogs series (2 books)


As in the first volume of Arno Schmidt’s Radio Dialogs, published by Green Integer in 1999, this second volume contains dialogic discussions of literary figures, performed over German radio from 1953 to 1971 by the great novelist. Here Schmidt discusses, again, his beloved James Joyce, as well as the English writer Bulwer-Lytton, and the German-language authors Johann Gottfried Schnabel, Adalbert Stifter, and Gustav Frenssen.

One of the most noted writers of the 20th century, Schmidt died in 1979. His books include Bottom’s Dream, Republica Intelligentsia, Nobodaddy’s Children, Evening Edged in Gold, and The School for Atheists, published in 2001 by Green Integer.

Also by Arno Schmidt:
Radio Dialogs I, $19.95
The School for Atheists: A Novella = Comedy in 6 Acts, $22.95

Book Review(s)

CONTEXT, no. 15 (2004)

by James Crossley

"Review of Radio Dialogs II"

This pocket-sized volume is the second of three collecting Schmidt's musings on writers and their works. As one might expect from this most ludic author, one of the more undeserved unknown masters of twentieth-century prose, these essays are hardly traditional academic exercises. Rather, they appear in the form of two- or three-part conversations between nameless speakers, playlets about such figures as Herder, Frenssen, Bulwer-Lytton, and Joyce, and were originally broadcast on German radio mainly in the 1950s and sixties. As most of the names under discussion are relatively unrecognizable to readers of English—raise your hand if you've never heard before of Johann Schnabel's 2,300-page utopia, Felsenburg Island—the central appeal of this translation of Radio Dialogs lies not in what Schmidt says about other writers, but in what his comments suggest about his own work. The Joyce chapter is most telling in this regard. In it, two of Schmidt's somewhat Beckettian characters attempt to make sense of the many connotations of the coinages in Finnegans Wake: "A:...What does an Englishman...think about when he hears the syallable ?" "B. (reserved): Well, a poetical :...and or . - (experimenting): ..."

"A.: Hmyes. There are, of course, still more...but that's enough. ...We had best invent a new technical term for use on this compelling evening of Ours.... What shall We call this basic structure of the linguistic fabric that ties so many things together? What might be available? - (feigns enlightenment): : the system of genuine meaning: let Us simply baptize this polyvalenced fellow an --agreed?" "B. Presuming there's not some other new trick hidden in it." Many of Schmidt's books, of course, are rich in menaing precisely because they are built of such etyms. These are strung together by a system of punctuation far more difficult to parse than in the above example; Radio Dialogs would have benefited from a more comprehensive introduction to Schmidt's methods and perhaps an explanation of how this kind of typographical holy-foolery came across in an aural medium. Such supporting material isn't essential, however, and the book in unquestionably an intriguing puzzle that provides an infinite number of launching points for study and imagination.

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