Front Cover
Archipelago Books, 2004 - Fiction - 199 pages
10 Reviews
Lenz, Georg Büchner’s visionary exploration of an 18th-century playwright’s descent into madness, has been called the inception of European modernist prose. Elias Canetti considered this short novella one of the decisive reading experiences of his life, and writers as various as Paul Celan, Christa Wolff, Peter Schneider, and Gert Hofmann have paid homage to it in their works. Published posthumously in 1839, Lenz provides a taut case study of three weeks in the life of schizophrenic, perhaps the first third-person text ever to be written from the "inside" of insanity. An early experiment in docufiction, Büchner’s textual montage draws on the diary of J.F. Oberlin, the Alsatian pastor who briefly took care of Lenz in 1778, while also refracting Goethe’s memoir of his troubled friendship with the playwright — English versions of both of these historical source texts here accompany Lenz for the first time in this bilingual presentation. Based on the best recent edition of the text, this fresh translation will allow readers to discover why Heiner Müller pronounced Lenz the inaugural example of "21st-century prose."

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
4 stars
3 stars
2 stars
1 star

Review: Lenz

User Review  - Alex Obrigewitsch - Goodreads

Madness, or utter clarity? No answer. Only the ever haunting sounding of silence. Read full review

Review: Lenz

User Review  - Laura - Goodreads

I had to read it for school and I liked it. I loved the abstract descriptions of nature. I loved how Büchner drew the parallels between reality and Lenz's inner world and also the discussion with Kaufmann, where Lenz defends his view on art. Very true words :) Read full review

References to this book

All Book Search results »

About the author (2004)

At his death at the age of 24 in 1837, Georg Buchner also left behind Leonce and Lena, Woyzeck, and Danton's Death--bold, psychologically and politically acute plays that were also well ahead of their time. His dramatic works exercised a profound influence on Brecht and Ionesco, as well as on the composer Alban Berg and the filmmaker Werner Herzog. Richard Sieburth's translations include Gerard de Nerval's Selected Writings, Friedrich Holderlin's Hymns and Fragments, Walter Benjamin's Moscow Diary, Henri Michaux's Emergences/ Resurgences and Stroke by Stroke, Gerard de Nerval's The Salt Smugglers, Michel Leiris' Nights as Day, Days as Night, and Gershom Scholem's The Fullness of Time: Poems. His edition of Nerval's Selected Writings won the 2000 PEN/Book-of-the-Month-Club Translation Prize. His recent translation of Maurice Sceve's Delie was a finalist for the PEN Translation Prize and the Weidenfeld Prize.

Bibliographic information