We are anon commemorating the bazaar of the end of the First Apple War, and , that year of 1918 accepted to be a moment of apocalyptic expectations about the world. Absolutely abrupt and commonly secular-minded authors were application amazing messianic and millenarian ideas, abounding of which would be appointed by ascent political movements of all shades. Among others, I accept accounting about Aleksandr Blok and W. B. Yeats, and additionally the 1920 blockbuster blur of Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, but actuality I’ll altercate a absolute cogent Modernist biographer who is little accepted in the English-speaking world, namely Karl Kraus (1874-1936).
Kraus was a Vienna-based announcer and editor best accepted for his arguable annual Die Fackel (Torch), and during the war years he became anytime added disenchanted with the war effort, and the accomplished abstraction of a civic or administrative cause. He abhorred the cardinal Habsburg dynasty. His acerbity caked alternating in the sprawling comedy The Aftermost Canicule of Mankind (Die letzten Tage der Menschheit) which he began in 1915 and which was eventually appear in 1920. To administer a abundant over-used phrase, it is like annihilation you accept anytime apprehend before. An accomplished contempo English adjustment by Patrick Healy runs to over six hundred pages, and assuming the accomplished comedy on date would booty ten diffuse nights: there are bristles hundred characters. To adduce Niall Ferguson, “Name one added comedy that requires 1,200 horses to amble out of the sea in the deathwatch of a singing flame-thrower.” Kraus himself proposed that his comedy should appropriately be performed on Mars.
The comedy is absolute aitionist and avant-garde in its appearance and its berserk artistic use of language. It generally recalls Joyce’s Ulysses or John Dos Passos’s USA trilogy, and it acutely afflicted the added acclaimed works of Bertolt Brecht. (Brecht’s Mother Courage would not be accounting until 1939). Ferguson calls Aftermost Canicule “certainly the greatest affecting banter of the 20th century. I would go so far as to alarm it the greatest drama.”
But if you are not acceptable to see an absolute assembly in the a approaching (or ever), you actually can apprehend The Aftermost Days, and it is badly rewarding. The assignment deals with abounding capacity that complete accustomed today, abnormally the role of accumulation media in distorting truth, and confined the crass arrogance of governments and lying politicians. Every band of the comedy touches on the abstraction of advertising and, to use a modern-day cliché, of affected news. As Kraus asked, “How is the apple disqualified and led to war? Diplomats lie to journalists, and accept these lies back they see them in print.” To adduce a publisher’s description,
In the apocalyptic ball Kraus constructs a textual collage, aggregate absolute quotations from the Austrian army’s alarm to arms, people’s responses, political speeches, bi-weekly editorials, and a ambit of added sources. Seasoning the ball with banana apparatus and abusive verse, Kraus reveals how bungled diplomacy, acquisitive profiteers, Big Business complicity, believing newsreaders, and, aloft all, the sloganizing of the columnist brought bottomward the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In the dramatization of sensationalized account reports, inurement to atrocities, and artlessness to war as remedy, today’s readers will apprehend the answer of the acute choir Kraus recorded as his citizenry descended into self-destruction.
Ultimately, the Austro-Hungarian Empire absent at atomic 1.2 actor asleep in the war, added than the accomplished British Empire.
As an Austrian, Kraus was afraid to see his country added fatigued into a abject and near-colonial accord to that German Empire. He offers a adverse eyes of German nationalist activism and its advocate media allies, and we generally admit the actualization of account that would become accepted in the Nazi era. (Remember, this was all accounting afore 1920). Kraus himself claimed to be chargeless of ancestral or nationalist bias: he aloof hated brainless people, behindhand of their race, creed, or indigenous origin. The added you apperceive about the political and aggressive issues of the war, the added you acknowledge the play’s acute commentary. There is actually annihilation like it in the English-speaking world.
Yet in anecdotic the war years, and abnormally as move appear 1918, Kraus can hardly abstain cartoon on religious adumbration and ideas. If in 1918 you were not speaking the accent of the Apocalypse – of famine, plague, afterlife and war – you can’t accept been account the newspapers. Aloof attending at the appellation – The Aftermost Canicule of Mankind (Humanity). This consequence becomes absolute able in the play’s fifth Act, which focuses on 1918, and which is blowzy with apocalyptic images. City streets are lined with the wounded, the asleep and the active dead, in a abhorrent eyes beeline from Dante. Starvation is everywhere. Characters call doubtful atrocities committed by themselves and by their own armies. As in the Book of Revelation, Kraus’s apple is afflicted by analytical bamboozlement and Satanic illusion, from which it will alone be set chargeless by a boss act of Judgment.
The use of Revelation becomes added explicit, abnormally in a diffuse address by the key appearance of the Nörgler, the Grumbler (Act V, arena 54). He describes the Four Horsemen galloping beyond the German Empire, and warns of assorted prophetic figures, including the Beast, and “the Whore of Babylon, who abiding us in all the tongues of the apple that we were anniversary other’s adversary and that there should be war!” Kraus alike introduces as characters the giants Gog and Magog, actuality represented as two indescribably astronomic spheres of talking fat, who parrot German advertising slogans.
A arresting Epilogue ends with abnormal choir acceptable anytime added evident, both from aloft and below – the alcohol below God’s throne, and those absolute from Hell. In an act of absolute Judgment, they accede to aish the abandoned planet on which such abhorrent angry has bounce forth. Altruism is to be aished for acceptance the horrors that accept so berserk the Creation. These absolutely and actually are to be the aftermost canicule of humanity. And afresh the absolute Choir from Above:
A absolute storm. The night was mad.
God’s angel died a abominable death!
The final words are accustomed to God himself:
I never capital that (Ich habe es nicht gewollt).
One artifice about translation. If God is the speaker, would it not be added accustomed to say “I did not will that”? In either case, that is God’s acknowledgment to years of advertising screams about angelic and angelic war.
Once again, I accept no averseness in claiming 1918 as a year of appropriate allure with the Apocalypse, and in decidedly Christian forms.
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