Wacholder lives and works at Custom House No. 8 with his adopted son Aslan and a lodger named Leo. Aslan spends his days copying out the novels of Kleist, Schiller, Goethe, and Mann; Leo, never leaving his bed, mentally composes his philosophical masterwork, Placental Theory of Existence; and Wacholder's only apparent responsibility is keeping watch over a towering mountain of paper. Wacholder's consuming passion, however, is his only true friend and nemesis, Wrz.
Wrz hasn't left his home in over seventeen years. He lives there, in a cocoon of cleanliness and order, with his wife Rita and Rita's two grown sons, Arnold and Arnulf. Wrz has dedicated his life to perfecting his home and eliminating every last atom of dirt. His happiness is disturbed only by the letters, 74 in all, Wacholder has sent him over the years. These lettersdictated by Wacholder, written by Aslan, and full of every kind of insanity and invectiveare intended to smoke Wrz out of his hole, both for his own good and to stop him from plotting against Wacholder.
When the 74th letter seemingly has no effect, Wacholder turns to other increasingly outlandish schemes to defeat his rival, even staging a rally to declare Wrz's non-existence. A feverishly comic carnival, Ergo is Jakov Lind's most experimental work and the final novel he wrote in German.
Ralph Manheim was one of the great translators of the 20th Century. He translated the works of Gnter Grass, Bertolt Brecht, Louis-Ferdinand Cline, Hermann Hesse, Peter Handke, Novalis, and Martin Heidegger, among many others. In 1982, PEN American Center created an awardthe Ralph Manheim Medal for Translationin his name, which honors a translator whose career has demonstrated a commitment to excellence through the body of his or her work.
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