Item description for The Maimed by Hermann Ungar, Kevin Blahut & Rut Pavel...
Set in Prague, The Maimed relates the story of a highly neurotic, socially inept bank clerk who is eventually forced to have sexual relations with his widowed landlady. At the same time he must witness the steady physical and mental deterioration of his lifelong friend who is suffering from an unnamed disease. Part psychological farce, Ungar tells a dark, ironic tale of chaos overtaking onesssssssss meticulously ordered life. Having died young, Ungar wrote only two novels, in addition to a handful of plays and short stories; this is the first time his work has appeared in English.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 1" Width: 5" Height: 8" Weight: 0.65 lbs.
Release Date May 1, 2002
Publisher Twisted Spoon Press
ISBN 8086264130 ISBN13 9788086264134
Availability 0 units.
More About Hermann Ungar, Kevin Blahut & Rut Pavel
Ungar received a Doctorate in Law and worked as a drama consultant and for the Czechoslovak foreign service.
Reviews - What do customers think about The Maimed?
Masterful, dark, and disturbing ... Jun 1, 2008
Franz Polzer, a pitiable, wretched man, lives out his ordinary days in solitude and poverty ... the mundane tasks carving out his time and his life. Tortured by sick and demented hallucinations of his father and aunt, Polzer suffers an immense sense of self-loathing as well as a loathing of women and children. He also suffers endless nights in cold sweat, paralyzed by the death grip of imaginary thieves and murderers, only to suffer the hours of his days in ceaseless toil, a slave, mercilessly at the beck and call of his obsessive compulsive disorder - everything must be counted and counted again ... and again.
Yes, Herr Polzer is a sad soul, desperately trying to live his life the way he wishes. But an easy mark, even his paranoia and compulsive behaviour cannot save him from the evil of others, who wish nothing more than to take advantage of any situation that might come along. And where one feels empathy for Polzer, there is nothing to feel but revulsion for the other characters in the story ... even his crippled childhood friend whose mind has been devoured by leprosy invokes no sense of pity.
This is a masterful piece of work. As we read the confessions of Polzer's twisted mind, Unger leaves more than enough to the imagination, and yet, without telling every gory detail, he still manages to set your flesh crawling. Polzer's entire identity is in turmoil throughout most of the book: his abusive childhood, his own sexual ambiguity, and his religious prejudices and superstitions fill every terror filled thought in his mind. I couldn't put this book down. In twenty-four hours, I read it cover to cover, on the edge of my seat. And even after finishing, the story continued to claw at my mind.
And kudos to the translator for finding it appropriate to include the final chapter, which was omitted in the original version. It in now ay ruined the intentional ambiguous ending that the author desired. It only made me wonder more.
the maimed Sep 28, 2007
This is one of the most tense/intense books that I have ever read. To me it was a page turner with an overwhelming sense of dread that seemed to hang over it.
This is an excellent new American translation Jan 9, 2003
This is an excellent new translation of an important text. German is a hard language, so if the original is not accessible to you, don't grab the first British translation off the shelf--I enjoyed this fresh and highly readable translation (considering this is Expressionim) in American English. It's a good paperback version for use in undergraduate and high school world literature courses, I think, as well.
An Expressionist Novel, At Last Jul 28, 2002
Most of us, somewhere along the line, have heard the term "Expressionism" applied to paintings, particularly those of certain artists working in Central-Europe during the period 1910-1930. There was even something of a rediscovery and subsequent vogue, a few years back, in the work of such artists as Munch, Klimt, Schiele, Kokoshka, Kandinsky, et. al. Aside from painting, though less notably, the Expressionist label also encompasses the works of certain composers, playwrights and poets of the period. As a long time fan of Expressionist art, I'd often wondered where were all the great Expressionist novelists and short story writers of that time and, if there had been any, why was I not finding their work on library and book store shelves?
A little investigating suggested there really weren't that many literary types writing prose fiction clearly fitting the Expressionist mold. Those who undoubtedly were oriented that way, the poets and playwrights, actually published quite a lot in Europe during the second two decades of the last century. What the most famous prose writers of the time were producing, on the other hand, were a lot of highly cultivated and cerebral or quasi-mystical works (Thomas Mann and Robert Musil come to mind) rather than the wildly spontaneous and emotion driven works we associate with Expressionism. Kafka hovers somewhere around the periphery, more a surrealist than anything else though, in reality, representing a stylistic mode all his own.
How exciting, then, to come across a novel, newly (and expertly) translated into English, by one of those few fiction writers who clearly advanced the Expressionist program.
Hermann Ungar's novel, The Maimed, written in 1921/22, first appeared in print in its entirety in 1923. The author, born in 1893 to a well-off Jewish family in the small Moravian town of Boskovice, obtained a law degree in 1918 and thereafter took up acting and writing for the theater. His first published work, a short story collection (Boys and Murderers) appeared in 1920 and caused a minor sensation garnering praise from the likes of Thomas Mann and the director Berthold Viertel. Ungar himself initially had serious reservations about going ahead with publication of The Maimed in 1922, fearing a scandal, and his publisher's reluctance to risk obscenity charges led to its being withdrawn until a second publisher brought it out, uneventfully, the following year. Ungar's subsequent literary career was brief and not especially noteworthy: some journalistic reportage and a second novel, The Class (1927). In 1929 he died of acute appendicitis at the age of thirty-six.
The Maimed is a disturbing book. It's a raw and jarring depiction of childhood trauma, poverty, sexual depravity, neurotic obsession and violence. Originally begun as a first person narrative, Ungar switched to the third person so as to minimize the chance of being identified with his protagonist, Franz Polzer, a severely repressed and neurotic survivor of child abuse who as an adult is as much a victim of internal demons as outside forces. Following the compulsively ordered Franz slowly losing his grip on his world as the circumstances and events of his life increasingly fly out of control, the story and its language become correspondingly fractured and unreal ratcheting up the tension as things move along. The Expressionists were really the first great portrayers of 20th century angst and this is most definitely the kind of thing Ungar serves up here. Lurid? Yes, but in a most artfully controlled and psychologically penetrating fashion. Indeed, the book is rife with detailed explorations of the subterranean recesses of Franz's subconscious and Freudian implications abound.
It's fascinating to examine the parallels between this kind of writing and the Expressionist paintings we're familiar with, especially the tortured images of Egon Schiele or the wry caricatures of George Grosz. Like both of those artists, Ungar's canvas is very much urban and underclass. He indulges a taste for the grotesque in the form of Franz's best friend Karl, a disease-riddled, multiple amputee who wallows in mocking self pity and he teeters on the edge of vulgarity in his unflattering descriptions of the bovine qualities of the sexual predator, Klara, Franz's landlady. Virtually any page of the book might serve as subject matter for the imaginations of a whole host of Expressionist painters and as the destructive elements of the story multiply, Ungar progressively and fittingly distorts his verbal palette.
This is not to say the book is entirely without artistic faults but these are minor and one is reluctant to quibble when examples of this kind of literature are so rare. After its first publication, there apparently were some who were dissatisfied with the ambiguity of the ending and the present translation includes a fragment Ungar added to later editions to clear things up. It is known, however, that Ungar preferred the original and I, having found it just fine myself, avoided reading the addition and so, can't comment on it. Recommended to anyone looking for something a bit twisted or who loves any of the painters mentioned.