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Alfred Kern

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Alfred Kern
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1960. The Clown. Translated by Gerard Hopkins

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Kern, Alfred. 'The Clown' published in 1960 in Great Britain by Collins in hardback with dustjacket, 512pp. Condition: good+ condition copy, well looked-after, clean & tidy, although the dustjacket is a little ripped in places on the edges (not price-clipped). Price: £8.50, not including p&p (which is Amazon's standard charge (currently £2.75 for UK buyers, more for overseas customers)
1960, Collins, hbk
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  • The Clown [top]
    Worldwide first edition published in 1957 in France by Librairie Gallimard, Paris, under the title 'Le Clown' and dedicated to Jacques Brenner
    First published in 1960 in Great Britain by Collins in hardback with dustjacket, 512pp, no ISBN. Original UK retail price: 21 shillings; cover illustration by R. A. Glendenning

Storyline: The hero of this novel is the clown as artist, his stage the fast-vanishing Europe of the earlier part of this century. Born in Switzerland-like other great modern [modern as in the 1960s] clowns-Hans Schmetterling, son of a working-class widow, seemed a boy of little promise for whom destiny held nothing more than a post as accountant in a department store. Like many quite ordinary boys Hans longed to see the world; but unlike most he saw his immediate world in terms of burlesque. Leaving home, he presently attached himself to a travelling circus as casual hand. By a mixture of good fortune and effrontery, he soon attracts the notice of the proprietress, Martha, a lioness of a woman with a domineering will, boundless ambition and gargantuan appetites. Given a chance in the ring, Hans quickly becomes a favourite with the public; he also becomes Martha's lover, vice Franz, the enigmatical Hungarian ex-aristocrat, and in due course her man of affairs. But here lies the germ of Hans's inner conflict: he is not by vocation a man of business, not even-despite his immense talent-primarily a mummer; he is an artist, an inventive satirist who creates the material of his performances out of the contemporary world-all the wonderfully varied Europe of the Kaiser and the Czar, Edward VII and Victor Emmanuel III-which the circus traverses on its perennial round. Nothing in this book is more fascinating than the fertile brain of Hans the Clown observing, noting and bringing to life in hilarious parody, the attitudes and absurdities of his contemporaries. When first published in France, this book was chosen as the book of the month by Société des Lecteurs

Chapters:

Part I: Imperial Splendours
1. A Child of the Back Streets
2. Despised and Rejected
3. Knave of the Pack
4. King's Fool
5. Queen's Minion
6. Dauphin
7. Awakening

Part II: The End of the Hapsburgs
8. Don Juan at the World's End
9. The Virtues of War
10. The Face of Defeath
11. The Anatomy Lesson
12. The Inflation
13. The Villa d'Este
14. The Sadness of August

Part III: Laughter and Tears
15. The Festival of the Champ-de-Mars
16. Birth of a Star
17. The Holy Family
18. The Massacre of the Innocents
19. Music hath charms
20. The Silven Cord
21. The Children of Weissensee

Part Four: Martha's Tomb
22. A Not So Blue Danube
23. The Strife of the Angels
24. A Death in Venice
25. The Investiture Controversy
26. The Feast of Atonement
27. Mahagony
28. Wannsee
29. The House in Eisengiesserstrasse


Alfred Kern Books

 



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