By David Sedaris
With a skewed experience of wit uniquely his personal, satirist and well known NPR storyteller David Sedaris provides a suite of brief tales and essays, in which domestic surgical procedure and an elf-abusing Santa succeed.
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Extra info for Barrel Fever: Stories and Essays
Robert Musil, Tagebücher, Aphorismen, Essays und Reden, edited by Adolf Frisé (Hamburg: Rowohlt, 1955), 908: “es kann wohl nicht verschwiegen werden, daß er [= der Kollektivismus] sich in der Zeit unserer Klassik auf die ‘Humanität’ und auf die ‘Persönlichkeit’ verlassen hat, wogegen er heute antiindividualistisch [. ” 15 One of the most far-reaching analyses of the “writerly” Musil was undertaken by Kuhn in relation to Vereinigungen — Heribert Kuhn, Das Bibliomenon. Topologische Analyse des Schreibprozesses von Robert Musils Vereinigungen (Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 1994).
Nevertheless, Roth’s study was a significant point of departure for ethical criticism, and has remained a work of importance for Musil scholarship in general. Judith Burckhardt’s study of 1973 was pervaded above all by the insight that modern life was founded on an absence of authenticity. This lack of authenticity, already announced in the title of Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften, had been proclaimed by Ernst Mach, whose functionalist philosophy had contributed to a sense of existential uncertainty in the late nineteenth century.
From this perspective, the dispute over the conclusion to Musil’s novel suddenly appeared to have missed the point. Musil’s preference for the subjunctive mood, Schöne showed, was a rhetorical gesture of the artist designed to promote understanding of plural perspectives, not to flatten them out in one direction or another. There was, accordingly, no definitive conclusion to Musil’s novel. Moreover, Schöne was also able to demonstrate that Musil, in structuring his narrative in experimental ways according to the category of possibility, was working within a tradition that reached EARLY PHILOLOGY AND EXISTENTIALIST READINGS E 27 back to the eighteenth century, in particular to Lichtenberg, Gottsched, and Breitinger, where God appeared as the creator of worlds of possible experience.