Now’s the Perfect Time to Curl Up with the Dada Fairy Tales of Kurt Schwitters

Perhaps it’s the economy. Perhaps it’s the continuing avalanche of bad news. There could be many reasons that the strange and sometimes disturbing fairy tales of dada artist Kurt Schwitters seem to be hitting the spot with some reviewers and book buyers these days.

Quinn Latimer reviews the book on Bookforum.com, noting:

“Lucky Hans and Other Merz Fairy Tales, which translates twenty-eight of Schwitters’s tales into English for the first time, provides the satiric mix of the familiar and the fantastic with which fairy tales regularly operate. As with Schwitters’s celebrated collages and assemblages, however, the tales’ expected elements are shattered and reassembled into riotous, deeply weird wholes. Beautiful maidens, destitute peasants, kindly farmers, and anthropomorphized animals are subject to a brutality both heretical and bruisingly familiar. That the horrors of World War I and the Holocaust bookended the writing of these tales comes as no surprise. Narratives are reliably brought to savage conclusions: A peaceful man who must decapitate a body in order to free an enchanted virgin is tripped up by his own gentility and is himself sent to the gallows; a “good man” who lets a hungry insect sting him is then sucked dry by a swarm of mosquitoes. The end.”

Hmm. This is the kind of stuff that is really resonating with readers in San Francisco. LUCKY HANS AND OTHER MERZ FAIRY TALES, translated and introduced by Jack Zipes, made the City Lights hardcover bestseller list in June. Here is a post on the Stolen Apples site with the bestseller list.

Comments

  1. Schwitters will always divide opinions, some love some hate, I am of the former opinion – although it must be said I have had my own spells of collage fever in my time. The disjunctive, the appropriated, the cacophony of life, may it always live on.

  2. Kathryn Rosko says:

    Response…
    Thanks very much for your comment… I especially appreciate the sentiment of the cacophony of life living on! I hope you enjoyed the book of fairy tales…

  3. sprookjes says:

    I must say that the cover looks verry strange for fairy tales. uhm the subscripsion looks nice, I like fairy tales verry much so I will think to read it.