Telegrams of the Soul by Peter Altenberg

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"If it be permitted to speak of ‘love at first sound,’ then that’s what I experienced in my first encounter with this poet of prose." So said Thomas Mann of the work of PeterAltenberg. A virtuoso Fin-de-Siècle Viennese innovator of what he called the "telegram style" of writing, Altenberg’s signature short prose straddles the line between the poetic and the prosaic, fiction and observation, harsh verity and whimsical vignette. Inspired by the prose poems of Charles Baudelaire and the Feuilleton—a light journalistic reflection of his day—Altenberg carved out a spare, strikingly modern aesthetic that speaks with an eerie prescience to our own impatient time. Peter Wortsman’s new selection and translation reads like a sly lyrical wink from the turnof-the-century of the telegram to the turn-of-the-millennium of email.

About Peter Altenberg

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Peter Altenberg (AKA Richard Engländer), 1859-1919, authored reams of observations and reflections for various dailies and weeklies, subsequently collected in 11 books published in his lifetime and two more after his death. His long list of literary admirers included Karl Kraus, Heinrich and Thomas Mann, Robert Musil and Arthur Schnitzler. A recipient of the Beard?s Fund Short Story Award, Fulbright and Thomas J. Watson Foundation fellowships, Peter Wortsman is the author of "A Modern Way To Die: small stories and microtales" (1991). His translations from the German include "Telegrams of the Soul, Selected Prose of Peter Altenberg" (2005) and "Peter Schlemiel, The Man Who Sold His Shadow" by Adelbert von Chamisso (1993).
Published April 4, 2005 by Archipelago. 160 pages
Genres: Education & Reference, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

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Short prose pieces by a Viennese eccentric gifted with the lost art of high sentimentality.

May 20 2010 | Read Full Review of Telegrams of the Soul

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