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Half-Truths and One-and-a-Half Truths: Selected Aphorisms Paperback – 15 Aug 1990

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4.7 out of 5 stars 3 reviews from the U.S.

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From the Back Cover

'Kraus is a superb aphorist.'- D. J. Enright, New York Review of Books -- 'Not only are the translations readable, but with the help of notes and introduction by Zohn, the subtlety and archness of Kraus' linguistic gifts shine through.' - Peter Filkins, Bloomsbury Review

About the Author

Karl Kraus (1874-1936) was publisher of the independent Viennese journal Die Fackel.

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Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars 3 reviews
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Everyone should read this 9 Dec. 2012
By KMK Dancer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
No one will agree with each and every one of the thoughts in this book, but that's exactly the point. Very thought provoking and it makes you ask yourself the question "Who made up these rules society is living by?"
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wit and Wisdom 12 Aug. 2008
By PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
For curmudgeons, the best part of the book -- which is largely comprised of six sections of aphorisms, 26 pages of Introduction, and three pages of bibliography -- is the last section entitled "Lord, forgive them...." The title of this section is based on the last one of Karl Kraus' aphorisms edited for this book, a reframing of, or play upon, a New Testament idea: "Lord, forgive them for they know what they do!"

There are 18 pages of aphorisms here confronting that nasty creature called man. Thomas Szaz has also translated many of these same aphorisms in a different book, "Karl Kraus and the Soul-Doctors," and perhaps did a better job of capturing the wit inherent in Kraus's criticisms than has Harry Zohn, the editor and translator of this work.

For instance, Zohn has Karl Kraus say "The devil is an optimist if he thinks he can make people meaner." This is a fine enough translation but it reads a little sterile. However, in Thomas Szasz's translation of the same aphorism, Karl Kraus says "The devil is an optimist if he thinks he can make people worse than they are." I think the latter translation has more depth, immediacy, and wit.

Each of the six sections of aphorisms is neatly divided into six different discourses, subjects, or topics. There's one on man, one on woman, one on politics and war, one on journalism ("In hollow heads"), one on culture, and one on society at large. Kraus' views on war are both touchingly eloquent and highly pertinent (if sadly) to today's international scene, though the best ones are too long to cite here.

The Introduction is worth the price of the book because it allows a further glimpse into the biography of the man and artist, Karl Kraus. While Thomas Szasz did a fine job on the life of Karl Kraus insofar as his views on psychoanalysis were concerned, there's only one biography of Karl Kraus in English that gives a comprehensive view of the whole man and artist, and it's not readily available. This Introduction by Harry Zohn provides an overview of the man's career and focus while also illuminating certain of Karl Kraus' artistic endeavors that just aren't generally known or appreciated.

Some critics have painted Karl Kraus as a fearsome critic whose intelligence was so powerful and piercing, it didn't allow him to suffer fools gladly. While some value needs to be given to these critics' testimony, this book of selected aphorisms also reveals a thinker who is refreshingly down-to-earth and outside the class of intellectual snobbery. In the section on culture ("Riddles out of solutions"), Karl Kraus says, for example, in one among several instances regarding reading "Most writers have no other quality than the reader: taste. But the latter has the better taste, because he does not write -- and the best if he does not read."

There's more to Karl Kraus and more to his writings than have been translated within this 128-page book (as the Introduction goes to some length to explain), but this book is a real step in the right direction toward exposing all of the half-truths and revealing more than one one-and-a-half truths as well which Karl Kraus was quite capable of inventing.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Guaranteed to provoke thought 8 Oct. 2012
By William D. Hastings - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Though I consider myself a reasonably intelligent individual, I felt a bit at a loss when someone handed me a copy of Half-Truths and One-and-a-Half Truths: Selected Aphorisms by Karl Kraus as Edited and Translated by Harry Zohn. First, I had never heard of the author and satirist before. Second, I had no clue what an aphorism was - I had to consult my trusted and cherished dictionary.

The introduction that begins this edition provides an insightful overview of the author's life and times from the late 1800's up until WWII. It was so interesting, in fact, that it left me wanting to know even more about the man and his work. As for that work, his aphorisms are tidbits of wordplay and biting satire, containing language cleverly manipulated into short sayings that are often humorous, bold, or brash while simultaneously being thought-provoking and often provocative. I found myself reading many of them for a second, third, and fourth time in order to wring every drip of wisdom and meaning from them. This work of Karl Kraus is a wonderful find; it comes highly recommended for any reader or writer who has an abiding love of language and a sharp wit.
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