Hugo von Hofmannsthal, An Impossible Man

Translated by Alexander Stillmark

New Translations 12

Modern Humanities Research Association

1 August 2016  •  150pp

ISBN: 978-1-781882-74-0 (paperback)  •  RRP £10.99, $17.50, €13.99

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ModernGermanTranslation


Hofmannsthal's comedy An Impossible Man is by common consent considered his stage masterpiece and has assumed the status of a classic in German-speaking countries. It is a play both about the passing historical moment which marked the end of the Habsburg era, together with its culture and class structure, whilst it is also a finely gauged critique of language as the badge of that culture. The highly polished, crafted diction the playwright employs shows up language as the flawed but indispensable vehicle of social communication. Hofmannsthal's dramatic technique is comparable to Chekhov's, since he uses conversation mainly for expository purposes with largely static effect, and by his choice of an essentially passive hero who is a problem to himself and to others. The problematic nature of language (a constant theme in Hofmannsthal's work and most consummately expressed in A Letter of 1902) is identified with and given voice through the complicated character of the hero Hans Karl. Moral seriousness is so finely interfused with a lightness of ironic texture in this comedy that no trace of gravity remains.

This new translation by Alexander Stillmark, Emeritus Reader in German at University College London and a leading scholar in Austrian Studies, has been composed especially with stage performance in mind.

Reviews:

  • ‘This MHRA edition is a useful reference work for Anglophone readers and students of Hofmannsthal and provides an authoritative translation of Der Schwierige that will be welcomed by literary and theatre historians alike.’ — Edward Saunders, Austrian Studies 2017, 25, 253-54 (full text online)

Contents:

i-iv
Front Matter
Alexander Stillmark
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v-v
Table of Contents
Alexander Stillmark
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vi-vi
Acknowledgements
Alexander Stillmark
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1-12
Introduction
Alexander Stillmark
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15-61
An Impossible Man: FIRST ACT
Hugo Von Hofmannsthal
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62-96
ACT TWO
Hugo Von Hofmannsthal
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97-128
ACT THREE
Hugo Von Hofmannsthal
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129-131
Appendix A: the Irony of Things
Alexander Stillmark
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132-133
Appendix B: Prussian and Austrian — An Outline
Alexander Stillmark
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134-140
Appendix C: A Letter
Alexander Stillmark
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141-142
Appendix D: He and She
Alexander Stillmark
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143-144
Back Matter
Alexander Stillmark
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Bibliography entry:

Stillmark, Alexander (trans.), Hugo von Hofmannsthal, An Impossible Man, New Translations, 12 (Cambridge: MHRA, 2016)

First footnote reference: 35 Hugo von Hofmannsthal, An Impossible Man, trans. by Alexander Stillmark, New Translations, 12 (Cambridge: MHRA, 2016), p. 21.

Subsequent footnote reference: 37 Stillmark, p. 47.

(To see how these citations were worked out, follow this link.)

Bibliography entry:

Stillmark, Alexander (trans.). 2016. Hugo von Hofmannsthal, An Impossible Man, New Translations, 12 (Cambridge: MHRA)

Example citation: ‘A quotation occurring on page 21 of this work’ (Stillmark 2016: 21).

Example footnote reference: 35 Stillmark 2016: 21.

(To see how these citations were worked out, follow this link.)


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