Man from Babel

Eugene Jolas; Edited by Andreas Kramer and Rainer Rumold

View Inside Price: $65.00


October 11, 1998
368 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
16 b/w illus.
ISBN: 9780300075366
Cloth

The autobiography of Eugene Jolas, available for the first time nearly half a century after his death in 1952, is the story of a man who, as the editor of the expatriate American literary magazine transition, was the first publisher of James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake and other signal works of the modernist period. Jolas’s memoir provides often comical and compelling details about such leading modernist figures as Joyce, Stein, Hemingway, Breton, and Gide, and about the political, aesthetic, and social concerns of the Surrealists, Expressionists, and other literary figures during the 1920s and 1930s. Man from Babel both enriches and challenges our view of international modernism and the historical avant-garde.

Born in New Jersey of immigrant parents, Jolas moved back to France with them at the age of two. He grew up in the borderland of Lorraine and later lived in Paris, Berlin, London, and New York, where he pursued a career as a journalist and aspiring poet. As an American press officer after the war, Jolas was actively involved in the denazification of German intellectual life. A champion of the international avant-garde, he continually sought translinguistic, transcultural, and suprapolitical bridges that would transform Western culture into a unified continuum.

Compiled and edited from Jolas’s drafts and illustrated with contemporary photographs, this memoir not only reveals the multicultural concerns of the man from Babel, as Jolas saw himself, but also illuminates an entire literary and historical era.

Andreas Kramer is lecturer in German, Department of European Languages, Goldsmiths, University of London. Rainer Rumold is associate professor of German literature and critical thought at Northwestern University, has written books on Gottfried Benn, German Expressionism, and Helmut Heissenbüttel. He is coeditor (with Marjorie Perloff) of the series Avant-Garde and Modernsim Studies.

"This is a valuable memoir by someone who was there and knew everyone."—Publishers Weekly


“There are a number of valuable insights here into literary friends like Gertrude Stein. . . Jolas understood [Joyce] like few other friends. This would be a valuable text for its perceptions of prewar Paris alone, but fortunately Jolas continued the narrative to his work in postwar Germany, where his view of the defeated Axis powers just after the war is devastating in its total condemnation of all things Teutonic. . . This is a valuable memoir by someone who was there and knew everyone.”—Publishers Weekly



“There are a number of valuable insights here into literary friends like Gertrude Stein. . . Jolas understood [Joyce] like few other friends. This would be a valuable text for its perceptions of prewar Paris alone, but fortunately Jolas continued the narrative to his work in postwar Germany, where his view of the defeated Axis powers just after the war is devastating in its total condemnation of all things Teutonic. . . This is a valuable memoir by someone who was there and knew everyone.”—Publishers Weekly

"In this fascinating autobiography, compiled from drafts and journals, we meet a man who was a vital factor in the intellectual life of Europe and the United States. . . . Highly recommended, especially for academic libraries."—Library Journal

“Man from Babel is exhilarating, deeply moving, and genuinely humane. Jolas’s life was a cameo version of the avant-garde experience, moving from the reckless utopianism of the 1920s to a sobering encounter with the intense pressures of contemporary politics in the 1930s and then, with the coming of World War II and the Holocaust, to a deeper understanding of their secret complicity.”—Lawrence Rainey, Yale University

“This book adds a great deal to our understanding of the historical avant-garde at a critical conjuncture.”—Lawrence Rainey, Yale University

"This beautifully produced book will interest literary, political, and cultural historians at the graduate and research level."—Choice

“In this memoir of an extraordinary life in an extraordinary time, Jolas was anything but a blind participant in events of the first half of the 20th century. . . . [Jolas was] a person who did not forget the past or sentimentalize the future, but who by disposition, personal history and profession was an acute recorder of moods and events in rapidly shifting times. . . . He was deeply interested in the esthetic avant-garde of the 20’s; he was a defender of Dadaism and Surrealism and of any effort to break language and the arts away from the clichés of conventional light entertainment. . . . Again and again, Jolas reveals not only his sharp eye and ready ear for a good story but also his sensitivity to human suffering and injustice.”—Robert Kiely, New York Times Book Review

Henry McBride Series in Modernism and Modernity
Emilio’s Carnival (Senilità)

Italo Svevo; A new translation by Beth Archer Brombert, wit

...
View details
Selected Letters of Rebecca West

Rebecca West; Edited, annotated, and introduced by Bonnie K

...
View details
Beauty and the Book
Fine Editions and Cultural Distinction in America

Megan L. Benton

View details
An Eye on the Modern Century
Selected Letters of Henry McBride

Henry McBride; Edited by Steven Watson and Catherine J.

...
View details
Marcel Proust
A Life, with a New Preface by the Author

William C. Carter

View details