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Arno Schmidt
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Arno Schmidt

Arno Schmidt (January 18, 1914 in Hamburg - June 3, 1979 in Celle) was a German author and translator.

Schmidt was a strict individualist, almost a solipsist. Disaffected by his experience of the Third Reich he had an extremely pessimistic world view. In Schwarze Spiegel he describes his utopia as an empty world after an anthropogenic apokalypse. Although he was a strict atheist according to him the world was created by a monster Leviathan whose predatory nature was passed on to humans. Still he thought this monster cannot be too powerful to be attacked if it behooves humanity.

His writing style is characterized by a willfull orthography by which he thought to reveal the true meaning of words and their connections amongst each other. One of the most cited examples is the use of 'Roh=Mann=Tick' instead of 'Romantik' (revealing romaticism as the craze of unsubtle men). The atoms of words holding the nuclei of original meaning he called Etyme (etyms). His theory of etyms is developed in his magnum opus Zettels Traum, in which an elderly writer comments Poe's works in a thought stream, while discussing a Poe translation with couple of translators and flirting with their teenage daughter. Schmidt also accomplished a willfull translation of Edgar Allen Poe's works himself.

In the 1960s he authored a series of plays for German broadcast stations presenting forgotten or little known and - in his opinion - vastly underrated authors, mostly from German Romanticism. These "plays" are basically talks about literature with two or three participants plus voices for quotations. 12 of these so called "Radio Essays" were republished 2003.


(some important ones)

See Also