Telegrams of the Soul: Selected Prose of Peter Altenberg

By Peter Altenberg, Peter Wortsman

"If it's accepted to talk of ‘love first and foremost sound,’ then that’s what I skilled in my first come across with this poet of prose." So acknowledged Thomas Mann of the paintings of Peter Altenberg. A virtuoso Fin-de-Siècle Viennese innovator of what he known as the "telegram style" of writing, Altenberg’s signature brief prose straddles the road among the poetic and the prosaic, fiction and statement, harsh verity and kooky vignette.

Inspired by means of the prose poems of Charles Baudelaire and the Feuilleton—a mild journalistic mirrored image of his day—Altenberg carved out a spare, strikingly glossy aesthetic that speaks with an eerie prescience to our personal impatient time. Peter Wortsman’s new choice and translation reads like a sly lyrical wink from the turn-of-the-century of the telegram to the turn-of-the-millennium of e-mail.

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Bought to be pleasant, sweetheart, nobody’s gonna chew you. She’s chilly, the negative little hophead. Now, now, now, now, don’t get disillusioned! Who do you think that you are?! a few type of highborn lady?! guess you’ll provide it to me for much less. smug slut. Adieu. Can’t get something out of her. goodbye, black woman, don’t visit any hassle now. You’re going to be simply fantastic. goodbye. ” “Bènjo, bènjo———! ” (The hell with you, wander off! ) issues Akolé, gorgeous like a bust by means of Barbédienne* forged in bronze, a tender guy of capability desires to own you! on your kinky hair you put on the little gold comb he gave you! He comes using up in a horse-drawn carriage. His mom wears a hat bedecked with French violets and greets you, all smiles, Akolé: “It will be an incredible second in Victor’s lifestyles, his very salvation. the lady speaks no language. now we have her below our thumb. She’s ours. i believe she likes me. What may possibly she most likely want?! one other string of glass beads and one other. And a silk umbrella and sandals. She’s black, no longer everyone’s cup of tea, dumb to the realm. No issues de l’âme. † I dare say she’d be an incredible second in his existence, medication for his indolent played-out soul, a veritable tonic. anything exact, I let you know, like a visit in another country or a 12 months of army provider. anything transformative, exhilarating. whatever thing like an episode within the lifetime of an artist, a poet. Later, good that’s one other tale, isn’t it—?! “Akolé—,” says Ofulu Ahadjí, “misumo (I love you)—. ” “Akolé—,” says Peter A. , “return to Akkra—! ” “Akolé—! ” says the younger guy of capacity who desires to own her. the mummy says not anything, simply crops gentle kisses on her forehead—. __________________ *Ferdinand Barbédienne, 1810–1892, a caster of bronze replicas of recognized sculptures †Complications of the soul The amateur Postal Clerk “It’s a just a little frigid profession—,” stated the dowdy previous postal employee to the very younger beginner and confirmed her tips on how to deal with the “L. u. C. Hardtmuth” rubber rolling approach. “No, romantic it’s no longer within the put up workplace, thank God. We’re a long way faraway from the wafting woods—. ” and everybody laughed or smiled a minimum of, particularly moved. “When you think,” stated the very younger amateur, “that again within the outdated days they used to need to lick all of the registered mail coupons themselves! was once there ever sufficient saliva?! ” the total workplace laughed. convinced, certainly, that’s development for you! “So,” concept the amateur, “a frosty profession?! They’re all so type to me. as though I have been a convalescent. not anyone desires to harm my emotions. yet am I made up of sugar?! They’re all so smooth with me, as though to assert: ‘You too needs to undergo the yoke! ’ i think like I’m placing one over on all of them. And that different lifestyles available in the market, all boredom and flirtation!? No, thanks, at the least now i do know what I’m right here for. An orderly regulated existence! not more bad desires. Romantic, used to be it ever romantic at my aunt’s house?! after all there has been my gallant uncle making come-on’s. No, thanks, I’ll take the intense existence over that any day. ” Hours and hours and hours on finish, she wrote out receipts, as though at a gallop, glued yellow stripes, rubber-stamped, tum tum tum tum-pum!

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