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Old 06-05-2017   #51
xylokopos
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Re: What other central european authors do you read?



I read Gotthelf's novella in two sittings.

I am not sure when I first heard of it; it is entirely possible that I learned of the existence of this author from Bolaño - he mentions the Swiss pastor Bitzius [ Gotthelf's real name] in 2666. I have been meaning to read it ever since I read Chessex, who wrote very bleakly about Swiss Calvinists and their obsession with Sin and Retribution.

The Black Spider is the story of a curse; or rather, of a deal with the devil gone wrong. After a christening in an idyllic Bernese village, an old man is asked about a blackened window post in his house. He recounts a story that took place in the Middle Ages, when the villagers were serfs to the Teutonic knights, who ruled from their castle on the hill. In order to comply to their master's cruel demands, they entered into a bargain with the devil, who in turn demanded an unbaptized child as payment. When the villagers reneged on their promise, terrible satanic vengeance was visited upon them.

It is a beautifully written book - pastoral beauty frames the horror of the tale. It is a folk tale or a morality play or a pastor's terrifying sermon against indulgence and moral decline. It is also properly shocking and revolting and bound to induce arachnophobia to the reader.

Highly recommended.


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Old 06-28-2017   #52
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Re: What other central european authors do you read?

I am halfway through Georg Heym's The Thief and Other Stories and I shall be the third one in this thread to recommend that collection without the slightest reservation. His language has a magnificent expressive fluidity and if you are like me, you will appreciate his interspersing biblical quotation or allusion among violent, natural imagery.

Heym died at 24.


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Old 06-28-2017   #53
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Re: What other central european authors do you read?

Quote Originally Posted by xylokopos View Post
I am halfway through Georg Heym's The Thief and Other Stories and I shall be the third one in this thread to recommend that collection without the slightest reservation. His language has a magnificent expressive fluidity and if you are like me, you will appreciate his interspersing biblical quotation or allusion among violent, natural imagery.

Heym died at 24.

I enjoyed The Lunatic very much.Such a fascinating depiction of Peter Kurten.

They were watching, out there past men's knowing, where stars are drowning and whales ferry their vast souls through the black and seamless sea.”
― Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West
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Old 07-05-2017   #54
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Re: What other central european authors do you read?

Quote Originally Posted by Vice View Post
Such a fascinating depiction of Peter Kurten
An intriguing notion! But do the dates fit? Or is it the opposite, life imitating art? The story was published just before Heym died, in 1911, if I am not mistaken. Had Kurten committed any serious crimes that had already come to light by that time? His litany of perverse aggressions was revealed in his trial before his execution, around twenty years later. I think Lang's M, which was released that year (1931), was loosely based on Kurten. In any case, whichever way inspiration went, what an extraordinary and evil synergy!

I read the last couple of stories on the train back from work today. Jonathan and The Ship were relentlessly depressing. I think the last author I read that had such an unyielding and hopeless vision for his protagonists was Hedayat.

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Old 07-05-2017   #55
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Re: What other central european authors do you read?

Indeed M is loosely based on some details regarding the modus operandi of Peter Kurten...Peter Lorre plays a fantastic role.

There is also the short story Singing Blood by Reggie Oliver from the Delicate Toxins anthology that brings back some memories

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Old 07-06-2017   #56
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Re: What other central european authors do you read?

Not sure if anyone else on the Ligotti site has mentioned The Nightwatches of Bonaventura, published anonymously in German in 1804. If a weirder novel was published before this date I'd like to know about it (it's even stranger than Potocki's Saragossa Manuscript).

From the University of Chicago Press blurb:

"The Nightwatches of Bonaventura is a dark, twisted, and comic novel, one part Poe and one part Beckett. The narrator and antihero is ... a nightwatchman named Kreuzgang, a failed poet, actor and puppeteer who claims to be the spawn of the devil himself. As a nightwatchman, Kreuzgang takes voyeuristic pleasure in spying on the follies of his fellow citizens, and every night he makes his rounds and stops to peer into a window or door, where he observes framed scenes of murder, despair, theft, romance... For him, life is a grotesque, macabre, and base joke played by a mechanical, heartless force."

Add to that a gothic atmosphere and a poetic rhetoric that anticipates Lautréamont. A book that deserves to be much better known than it currently is.
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