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Fülöp-Miller, René

Entry updated 20 September 2018. Tagged: Author.

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(1891-1963) Austro-Hungarian cultural historian, controversialist, journalist and author, born Philipp Müller, in active service during World War One; in England then USA from the 1930s. He began publishing fiction with Katzenmusik ["Caterwauling"] (dated 1936 but 1935; trans Richard Winston as Sing, Brat, Sing 1947), a Satire which verges on the fantastic through its portrait of a four-year-old musical genius and mime who has a seemingly hypnotic ability to make adults dance to her tune, in a seeming prefiguration of Günter Grass's Die Blechtrommel (1959; trans Ralph Manheim as The Tin Drum 1962).

Of sf interest is the Drohitz sequence comprising The Night of Time (trans Richard and Clara Winston from manuscript 1955) and The Silver Bacchanal (trans Richard and Clara Winston from manuscript 1960), two surreally abstracted tales set in an unnamed war which has some resemblance to action in World War One, perhaps on the Russian front where Fülöp-Miller served, though any war, including World War Two, will serve. Both tales are set in a Doppelganger-haunted claustrophobic Keep – in the first volume on Hill 317, which is "filewise not locatable" so its occupants are starving; in the second in the protagonist's initial destination point, the city of Drohitz, a parody microcosm where twentieth-century grotesqueries are expressionistically displayed – conveying overall a Between-the-Wars sense of cultural devastation, in each case depicted through desiccated landscapes reminiscent of the work of the Austrian Leo Perutz – both men being savaged by the war, though Franz Kafka may be a deeper influence. Other works set in enclaves lost in the unfathomable shambles of Europe include Iain Banks's A Song of Stone (1997), William Eastlake's Castle Keep (1965), John Hawkes's The Cannibal (1949), William Wharton's A Midnight Clear (1981). Fülöp-Miller was a figure of some cultural influence in Weimar Germany, which may explain the emotional intensity of George Salter's cover illustrations for the two books.

Of Fülöp-Miller's copious nonfiction, the most interesting may be Die Fantasiemaschine: Eine Saga der Gewinnsucht ["The Fantasy Machine: A Saga of Greed"] (1931), where he brings together Hollywood cinema, the incessant 24-frame-a-second drumbeat of images in film presentation, commodity fetishism and the star system as conjoined iterations of "the primal rhythm created by the embrace of the sexes": but scurrilously manipulated (see Media Landscape). [JC]

René Fülöp-Miller

born Caransebeș, Banat, Austro-Hungary [now Romania]: 17 March 1891

died Hanover, New Hampshire: 17 May 1963

works (highly selected)



  • The Night of Time (Indianapolis, Indiana: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1955) [trans by Richard and Clara Winston from manuscript: Drohitz: hb/George Salter]
  • The Silver Bacchanal (New York: Atheneum, 1960) [trans by Richard and Clara Winston from manuscript: Drohitz: hb/George Salter]

individual titles

  • Katzenmusik ["Caterwauling"] (Vienna, Austria: Reichner, 1935) [book is dated 1936: hb/]
    • Sing, Brat, Sing (New York: Henry Holt, 1947) [trans by Richard Winston of the above: hb/Victor Kalin]



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