Half-Truths & One-And-A-Half Truths by Karl Kraus. Montreal. 1976. Engendra Press. hardcover. 128 pages. Design by Anthony Crouch. Edited and translated from the German by Harry Zohn. 0919830005.





   ‘This, and only this, is the substance of our civilization: the speed with which stupidity sucks us into its vortex.’ An intrepid guardian of the truth in an age drowning in lies, Karl Kraus (1874-1936), the great Viennese editor, moralist, polemicist and pacifist - and perhaps the foremost aphorist of modern times - unrelentingly assailed those powers whom he regarded as the mainspring of a Europe in an advanced state of putrefaction. Journalists, nationalists, warmongers, ‘psychoanais’ – all who corrupted the quality of life through their defilement of language found themselves on the receiving end of satiric barbs launched by the outraged humanitarian, who (true satirist that he was) measured everything he witnessed against unbending standards. ‘Hate must make a person productive; otherwise one might as well love.’ Karl Kraus was a passionate lover as well as a productive hater; HALF-TRUTHS & ONE-AND-A-HALF TRUTHS strikes a balance between aphoristic sayings born of contempt or indignation and those having their source in more positive – though no less intense – feelings and concerns. The process of artistic creation, the role of the satirist, the significance of language (‘the divining rod which finds sources of thought’) and the mysteries inherent in the relationship between the sexes are some of the themes on which Kraus expressed himself aphoristically; Professor Zohn’s selection and translation have resulted in one of the more quotable books to have appeared in the English language in recent years



Kraus KarlKARL KRAUS (1874-1936) was a major influence on the intellectual life of Vienna, whose seminal thinkers and artists have profoundly changed twentieth-century thought. On some of them Kraus’s influence was fundamental. Indeed, as the critic George Steiner recently noted, ‘without Kraus, Wittgenstein’s philosophy might well have been nonexistent.’ Kraus is difficult to classify in any category; he stands unique in world literature. Many critics believe him to be the greatest satirist since Swift; he was also one of the most brilliant aphorists. As a critic of society, in violent opposition to the all-pervading corruption of the spirit in public life, he was without equal. The four contributors to In These Great Times are natives of Vienna. 


Harry Zohn is a native of Vienna and currently chairman of the department of Germanic and Slavic languages at Brandeis University, where he has taught since 1951. The many books which he has written or edited include a study of Karl Kraus (1971), and the Austrian reader Der farbenvolle Untergang. Among the works which Professor Zohn has translated may be mentioned The Complete Diaries of Theodor Herzl, Sigmund Freud’s Delusion and Dream, Walter Benjamin’s Illuminations, Marianne Weber’s Max Weber: A Biography, and selections from the German satirist Kurt Tucholsky. Professor Zohn holds the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit awarded by the Federal Republic of Germany, and is a member of the Austrian P.E.N. Club.





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