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Schmidt, Arno

Entry updated 28 November 2022. Tagged: Author.

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(1914-1979) German translator and author noted for his linguistic innovation and the swift wit of his experimental fictions, which project an air of calculatedly cerebral quarrelsomeness; he repeatedly acknowledged the influence of Edgar Allan Poe, whom he translated, and whose speculations shape and dominate his most ambitious novel, Zettels Traum ["Bottom's Dream"] (1970). The marked and extremist manipulation of the tropes of Fantastika in his work (see also Fabulation) is noticeable as early as his first published volume, Leviathan (coll 1949), which assembles three tales of deathly Transcendence: "Gadir oder Erkenne Dich Selbst" ["Gadir; or, Know Thyself"] plays on Ambrose Bierce's "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" (13 July 1890 San Francisco Examiner); "Enthymesis oder W. I. E. H." ["Enthymesis; Or How I Hate You"] carries the world-despising Philostratos into something like a Parallel World; and the title story describes a metaphysical train journey out of the apocalypse of World War Two into death. Underwriting the extremities suffered by the protagonists of the three tales making up the Nobodaddy's Children sequence – comprising Brand's Haide: Zwei Erzählungen ["Brand's Health"] (coll of linked stories 1951) and Aus dem Leben eines Fauns: Kurzroman (1953; trans John E Woods as Scenes from the Life of a Faun: A Short Novel 1983), both volumes assembled as Nobodaddys Kinder: Trilogie (1963; trans John E Woods as Nobodaddy's Children 1995) – is a sense that human beings are, in a literal sense afforded by disruptive recourses to the fantastic, the children of Nobodaddy, the name William Blake (1757-1827) gave to the Christian God (see Religion). The title story of the first volume is nonfantastic; the second, "Schwarze Spiegel" ["Black Mirrors"] is set in a Post-Holocaust world where the Last Man attempts to conceive of himself as a tabula rasa who might therefore create a new world. The third volume depicts the icy fixity afflicting the world during World War Two, and the uselessness of searching for any form of Arcadia.

In Die Gelehrtenrepublik (1957; trans Michael Horovitz as The Egghead Republic: A Short Novel from the Horse Latitudes 1979), which is genuine Post-Holocaust sf set in 2008 CE after a nuclear Holocaust that has destroyed Europe, an American attempts to report home on the International Republic for Artists and Scientists, or IRAS, which is housed on a mobile Keep-like Island currently resting in the Sargasso Sea. But Sex, spidery Mutants, language-games and chaos afflict his brief. The protagonist of KAFF auch MARE CRISIUM ["KAFF, alias SEA OF CRISES"] (1960), which is set in a banal Germany, "invents" (or predicts) a settlement in the Sea of Crises on the Moon. The Post-Holocaust tale Die Schule der Atheisten: Novellen-Comödie in 6 Aufzügen ["The Atheist's School"] (1972) is set in a Keep along the Danish border in 2014, where survivors of the last nuclear war are permitted to live. [JC]

Arno Otto Schmidt

born Hamburg, Germany: 18 January 1914

died Celle, Germany: 3 June 1979



Nobodaddy's Children

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