Telegrams of the Soul: Selected Prose of Peter Altenberg by Peter AltenbergTelegrams of the Soul: Selected Prose of Peter Altenberg by Peter Altenberg

Telegrams of the Soul: Selected Prose of Peter Altenberg

byPeter AltenbergTranslated byPeter Wortsman

Paperback | April 4, 2005

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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.
Peter Altenberg (akaRichard Engländer, 1859-1919) born into a well-to-do, assimilated Viennese Jewish family, took advantage of a medical diagnosis of "over-excitation of the nervous system" and a consequent "incapacity for gainful employment" to devote himself heart and soul to the life of the Bohemian poet. Author of eleven books pub...
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Title:Telegrams of the Soul: Selected Prose of Peter AltenbergFormat:PaperbackDimensions:147 pages, 9 × 5.5 × 0.5 inPublished:April 4, 2005Publisher:Steerforth PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0974968080

ISBN - 13:9780974968087

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Read from the Book

We relegated fairytales to the realm of childhood—that exceptional, wondrous, stirring, remarkable time of life! But why rig out childhood with it, when childhood is already sufficiently romantic and fairytale-like in and of itself? The disenchanted adult had best seek out the fairytale-like elements, the romanticism of each day and each hour right here and now in the hard, stern, cold fundament of life! Even the truly predestined poets with their more impressionable hearts, eyes and ears fetch their telling tidbits from actual occurrences, listening in on the romance of life itself.

Editorial Reviews

The freest soul of the epoch. —Karl Kraus In his small stories his whole life is mirrored. And every step, every movement he makes confirms the truth of his words. Peter Altenberg is a genius of nullifications, a singular idealist who discovers the splendors of this world like cigarette butts in the ashtrays of coffeehouses. —Franz Kafka 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. —Thomas Mann Some [of Altenberg’s pieces] are like steel projectiles, so tightly enclosed in themselves, so complete and precise in their form; and like projectiles, they pierce the breast; you are struck and you bleed. Some are like crystals and diamonds, sparkling in the multicolored reflections of the light of life, gleaming with captured rays of sunlight and glittering with a hidden inner fire. Some are like ripe fruits, warm with the waft of summer, swollen and sweet. —Felix Salten Altenberg seems singular even when compared to his nearest literary kin: less austere and allegorical than Baudelaire, and more involved with society than Robert Walser, his short prose approaches form in ways that are uncannily relevant now. —James Guida, The New Yorker