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Because He’s Worth It

David Simpson: Young Werther, 13 September 2012

The Sufferings of Young Werther 
by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Stanley Corngold.
Norton, 151 pp., £16.99, January 2012, 978 0 393 07938 8
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... as receipts in the US have been very small: $162,000 in 29 weeks. Who might now read Werther? Stanley Corngold and his publisher argue boldly that it’s a ‘timeless’ masterpiece: ‘it breathes, it lives,’ they say, thanks to the qualities of Corngold’s new translation. What makes a book timeless, and what ...

Double Thought

Michael Wood: Kafka in the Office, 20 November 2008

Franz Kafka: The Office Writings 
edited by Stanley Corngold, Jack Greenberg and Benno Wagner, translated by Eric Patton and Ruth Hein.
Princeton, 404 pp., £26.95, November 2008, 978 0 691 12680 7
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... remember that he smiled, as Brod tells us, when he made his remark about the plentitude of hope. Stanley Corngold, in an introductory essay to The Office Writings, says that Kafka’s goal or need – ‘the mandate . . . laid on him’ – was ‘to write well at some unheard of degree of proficiency or be lost’. This is beautifully put, and while ...

Cage in Search of a Bird

Michael Wood: Kafka’s Worlds, 17 November 2022

The Aphorisms of Franz Kafka 
edited by Reiner Stach, translated by Shelley Frisch.
Princeton, 230 pp., £20, July 2022, 978 0 691 20592 2
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... a sort of journey into a country of the mind. In Franz Kafka: The Office Writings (2008), Stanley Corngold talks about a ‘ministry of writing’ in this context, and the double meaning (bureaucratic and pastoral) takes us a long way into Kafka’s worlds. At the end of his stay in Zürau, or just afterwards, Kafka made a selection from his ...

Slow Deconstruction

David Bromwich, 7 October 1993

Romanticism and Contemporary Criticism: The Gauss Seminars and Other Papers 
by Paul de Man, edited by E.S. Burt, Kevin Newmark and Andrzej Warminski.
Johns Hopkins, 212 pp., £21.50, March 1993, 0 8018 4461 4
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Serenity in Crisis: A Preface to Paul de Man 1939-1960 
by Ortwin de Graef.
Nebraska, 240 pp., £29.95, January 1993, 0 8032 1694 7
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... twice, to revealing effect, in controversies over his interpretations of philosophers – with Stanley Corngold on Nietzsche’s conception of error, and with Raymond Geuss on Hegel’s understanding of art. De Man had translated Nietzsche’s remark that the world is a place where a mistake can happen and made it say instead that the world is a realm ...

Nothing but the Worst

Michael Wood: Paul de Man, 8 January 2015

The Paul de Man Notebooks 
edited by Martin McQuillan.
Edinburgh, 357 pp., £80, April 2014, 978 0 7486 4104 8
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The Double Life of Paul de Man 
by Evelyn Barish.
Norton, 534 pp., £25, September 2014, 978 0 87140 326 1
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... wouldn’t a few strategic strikes do most of what needs doing? Or in his translation, noted by Stanley Corngold, of Nietzsche’s phrase ‘error takes place’ or ‘error happens’ (‘der Irrthum stattfindet’) as ‘error reigns.’ Nothing but the worst, or the most extreme. We could also think of de Man’s rather beautiful evocation of ...

Paul de Man’s Abyss

Frank Kermode, 16 March 1989

Wartime Journalism, 1939-1943 
by Paul de Man and Werner Hamacher, edited by Neil Hertz and Thomas Keenan.
Nebraska, 399 pp., £28, October 1988, 9780803216846
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Critical Writings 1953-1978 
by Paul de Man, edited by Lindsay Waters.
Minnesota, 228 pp., $39.50, April 1989, 0 8166 1695 7
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Paul de Man: Deconstruction and the Critique of Aesthetic Ideology 
by Christopher Norris.
Routledge, 218 pp., £25, October 1988, 0 415 90079 4
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Reading de Man Reading 
edited by Lindsay Waters and Wlad Godzich.
Minnesota, 312 pp., $39.50, April 1989, 0 8166 1660 4
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... account of a view that he of course rejects. It has been expressed with much indignation by Stanley Corngold and others – the holocaust, and de Man’s own past, they say, conveniently vanish – but it is dismissed, in my view correctly, as founded on a false idea of the relation between deconstruction and history, admittedly a very dark ...

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