Manhattan Girl

*

At night the city came to visit in his room. Fifteen storeys up in the giant hotel. It’s a woman, she asks him his name. She’s a woman, and is unable to give her name. In springtime nights nameless smells and sounds rise up towards me, the things are there but the new words are missing. You have to create a new language. The sentences must be a rapid-fire salute of images. They must have the panting breath of madness. They must convey the rhythm of a blood-rhapsody.

For that’s it, exactly. It’s a torment to lie here and have to think things over, about what they’re called. It’s obvious they have a name, for they are absolutely things that are known, that have passed through the whole brain. It’s a torment. I sense how this gradually all revolves around me myself, how it concerns my own particular configuration of limbs. A part of the brain has gone to sleep, feels like a tickling of ants is marching across it. I think, quite coolly: I’ll just activate my olfactory nerve, let’s say number twenty-five, to become conscious of its domain and hear it answer to its name. But it refuses to fire up. I can’t find out what it should be called. This feeling of paralysis conquers ever more territory, I’m solidifying, for I of course am the city. I’m solidifying into the city. I stand, I strain, I stretch out, iron, granite, concrete. I squat as a rigid sponge, in huge porous chunks across the Manhattan promontory; the eons of pores amid solidified clay and chalk exhale a matted clump of people, linked by nothing other than a soul! In the steel-finned Aeolian harp, in the earth’s insides welded together by the sticky music of quartz and corundum, groans voice out her melancholy. The fervour sparked by the human urge to build and stratify has dragged blocks of ore into contention with each other, and now I lie in their gently chinking teetering prison. Oh, I am my own prison of words. I’ve been drawn out so long and thin, Christ-fate of materials soulful and gaunt with aching, the ore-ribs of a sighing steel heart. Here on the fifteenth floor of a hotel–through the walls I can sense the vacuum pressure of the elevators–I gradually accrete beyond the room, I put on a second skin, and it’s the city. I represent the city. The city, that’s me. But at the same time I forget my own name; however much I sweat it, no assonance with my consciousness occurs to me that can move by so much as a finger this great brain of mine that is the city. So many sounds, and no name. It’s the major wound. I have only strengths instead of movement. Only the things themselves instead of their words. I’m like a woman. Maybe I am a woman, I’m never sure how all that works. Probably I’m one of those females who stroll across Fifth Avenue at four in the afternoon. Meanwhile the city is happening, that means my body’s fading, degrading Soul to Form. It’s executing a rapid metabolic process. Just now I boomed somewhere far away, I was a ferryboat in the pale mists of the East River communicating with my neighbours, I’ll reply to myself right away. There it is. A menagerie of voices erupts, rolls along the streets, sails away over the flat roof gardens of the housing blocks. Somewhere I am music and tamped vestibules, an orchestra of sagging banjos and slack drumskins. I have all kinds of smells in me. My soul is a syncopation. For smells and sounds are a physical wound, and what is soulful in them is the tendency to pull together to become a name. If only I knew what it was all called!

It’s a torment. The city is my major wound. Think about it: on the fifteenth floor, and another fifteen floors above me. There’s a gurgling from the depths. The lips of the wound gape, a seething stream of blood comes to the surface, a purple geyser sprays over us. Such a stink of blood. It roars out of the depths, out of the stony valleys. Suddenly I notice that the wound is closing. The stream of blood is now a trickle. All at once it’s comprehensible, can express itself, it’s still red but is no longer blood, has no substance now. It’s a sequence of tones, it’s just that they’re coming from a crimson cleft. Truly I believe the wound is no wound, but the speaking mouth of a girl. A red girl-mouth. I sense that I’m at my goal. I’m almost at the point where I can burst out with a name. For I believe the city can be called by the name of a girl. I begin to understand.

There, the girl is speaking, the girl says: “I am the Manhattan girl.”

My shoulders are set high. They’re the widest line of my body. My clothes wrap around the narrow projecting hips, the waist squeezed gently below the shoulder-blades, they wind like bandages around my long lower body, lend knees and ankles the plasticity of the material when I walk. My upper arms are not round, but curved and slender. My legs are long from playing on grass, I walk leaning forward on parallel feet. I like to wear nice clothes that suit me, and hats that let the face lie in ambush, I’m a big spender, I love brand new shoes with untouched soles, pale as the pelt of a newborn calf and flashing briefly like the belly of a circling trout. The material on my back lies flat as if from a tambourine. My hair is brown and thick and tight as the hair of a squaw. Oh I have all the world’s races in my blood. My complexion is pale and polished, I have a Creole girl’s skin. All the races are in my blood. How the city wheezes. It slurps the blood of white and dark and yellow people from the south and north and west and east. I dance the singing of the Africans, in me I have the murky silt of the Nile and the innocuous sweetness of people from Senegal. I step from the heel to the sole when I dance, I let the joints swing, the delicate knuckles rattle . . . My voice is high, and when I feel larksome, in my throat is the inherited Mohican cry . . .

All this I know. I’m conscious of myself. For basically I have the nerves of a man.

The city intends something with me. I yearn for her. The city is like a man. She’s a brain, she enmeshes me into a brain, a masculine brain. The races who have come here and mingled all together are thoughts, souls. Here I lie, on the fifteenth floor of a hotel. My bed stands with the head at the open window, I can sense the balmy fumes that rise up from the street. My feet lie towards the wall, with a corridor on the other side. Then there’s another room. And perhaps another street? I’m convinced there’s a girl lying in every room, like me with the feet against the wall and head to the street. She thinks like me, she’s my spiritual doppelgänger. At this very moment she’s directing her thoughts my way. We say hello. Anyway, I’m wrong. It’s not a woman but a man lying there. He thinks like me, but in a masculine way. Is that very different? I sometimes think it more likely I’m a man than a girl. It’s not clear how that works. But I know I’m not, not entirely. I’d like to know if the man over there is also thinking he might be a woman. It must surely be masculine to think that. It must be a nice strong man. Is it more masculine to be stronger in the brain than in the muscles? I wish I could have the body of a boy . . . It’s astonishing, embarrassing. Now I have to lie on my right side, where the heart won’t be squeezed. If I think dirty thoughts about him, will the man over there be doing the same in my direction? Our rules demand it. At the same time he must find out he’s not thinking for himself alone. How dare you? . . . I’ll lie on my left again. Methinks he’s thought . . .

And it occurs to me I have another fifteen floors above me. So above me there are at least another fifteen people. I can feel the whole weight on me. I must think, Help! I believe the moment will come right now when it will crush me. I lie beneath these fifteen people, maybe they’re men, I see fifteen backs before my eyes. Who knows if they’re an appetising shape. I’ll have to lie on my stomach.

Now I look downwards, fifteen storeys down. I hear the elevator’s pneumatic pump. Before me, under me, an abyss gapes. It’s unbearable. I’m afraid I’ll have to vomit. But it was just a fear. There are hardly any indications I might become nauseous. But the tower is swaying. It’s vibrating, the tremors caused by the din of traffic are like an electric current, I notice it clearly. I can calculate it will come to a stop higher up, it’s thirty storeys high and only four windows wide. It’s dangling behind my back from its highest point, I can feel the deflection in the air. Like when you have a too-heavy catch on the end of a too-slender rod! Beside me I hear a metallic crackling. The iron crossbeams are expanding . . . fibres are groaning.

What voices are these that speak to me? I lie here curled up in myself, my hands can feel my calves and thighs, and they tantalise me. I’m afraid of something, and yet I can’t say what it is. It’s not what’s coming from the street. I know all that. I can have the thoughtless courage of a boy. Not long ago I stabbed the man with my hatpin. He was dark and good-looking. When I did it I had no feelings. But afterwards I remembered that his chest must have been very soft. I’d like a man with a muscular chest. But his head shouldn’t be too wide. The head is the most essential thing about a man. It has to show there’s a brain. It has to be like the city. There must be something dangerous about him. I’d like to know what it means that the city makes me afraid. Blossoming scares me. It’s like the lush blooming of the flowers that shout out from the tops of graves. The city is a vegetation of everything that’s uncanny. And I lie here and, as it were, hear the grass grow.

The noises of the city criss-cross like little waves on the Mississippi. Swilling, swilling. Sometimes it overflows. There, now they’re shooting, they fired a shot. And again. And again. They fired three shots. You can hear voices, really thin and far below like little whip-cracks. It’s so far below, like in a mineshaft. Probably someone’s lying there in his own blood. But it really doesn’t excite me. The city’s always bleeding, everywhere. At any moment blood is flowing in one or other of her places, then I can hear the blood. I can imagine that at this moment someone is collapsing, his blood is dripping on the pavement. The city sucks, sucks herself full of dripping blood. But this isn’t what makes me scared. Maybe the fear is there just for its own sake, it has no other cause than itself.

It torments me anyway. I feel a longing. Maybe my fear and my longing are the same thing.

I’m the same as the one who used to laugh all day. I work a lot. The word work has its own sound. I’m still young and I’m a doctor. I know so much, I’ve learned all kinds of stuff. In the holidays and when I have spare time I work in a theatre, I clip the people’s tickets and take them to their seats. And I’m the very same one who in her leisure hours reads monthlies and magazines from the front all the way to the back. I make up stories myself. I always moon over the same type, in the stories and the illustrations. It all takes place in a garden. It’s an opulent country house in the tropics. The gentlemen wear wide trousers with sharp creases and turnups. The ladies are tall and have opulent hairdos. And it all happens in Asia or Egypt and it’s a tableau of oriental splendour and wild romanticism. Somebody gets shot, and there are attacks by riders on thoroughbred horses. Everything, however savage, must be appropriate to the cultivated actions of the white heroes. The brutality must be elegant. There’s sweet love-making, some offhand wooing. Sunday cannibals, ballet Bedouins, and salon buffalos take to their weapons, and the melancholy of all the suns of the Earth shines on the snow-white bridal bed beneath cooling palm-thatch roofs on the riverbank. The blond broad-shouldered gentlemen doff their pith helmets, pull on their well-pressed trousers and from henceforth carry the revolver in the holster at their belt. The tall girl with the small face and high waist swings the dagger in her tennis-player arm, which the fiend parries before the final thrust . . . And the ocean lands a star-spangled banner. The chieftains shout hurrah. The poetry of the wilderness bows down before a steam engine. Worlds mingle like blood. Everything is a triumphal march of rose-coloured civilisation.

I am white. But in my blood are all the races of the world, and all poetry and all cultures are in me. My hips are narrow, my back is straight, and my shoulders sit high. I’m like pictures of the pyramids. When I bend the small of my back, I have no stomach. Then, under the last ribs, I’m a crescent of nerve and muscle like the Egyptian goddess Isis. And now I know where I get my nose from. That’s why I’m populated by the senses of adventure, and that’s why I love the dances of foreigners and the music of their passions. I can pray to Osiris.

My bench is in Central Park. There I sit and gaze steadfastly to the west. People go by, they look at me, but my face doesn’t move. It’s good sitting like this. I am happy. I find myself interesting sitting here like this, I absolutely don’t need to worry about the impression I make. It’s soothing. Hooves softly churn the bark chip of the bridleway, it’s like a muffled drum-roll. An alert squirrel hops lithely across the dusty asphalt of the broad drive, leaving behind him in his haste a viaduct of silent leaps. I gaze to the west. Ages ago I came from the east to the west. And now, as the world turns, I retrace my westward odyssey back to the east. Humanity is in me. I am America. I am civilisation. I was born in Egypt, like Osiris. I head westward, always westward, and I come back to my own homeland. The future of the world lies in the east. Everything is returning to its ancient places and ancient peoples. They need our blood there. There are still people with whom I have not mingled my blood. The Sun has become a single huge light-source lying flat on the horizon, foaming over with light and benevolence, with light undaunted–Osiris! An apartment block stands in the way, it’s one, two . . . thirty storeys high. The Sun sinks so fast it’s now no more than a great big cowl. I storm towards it, smash the apartment block to pieces, there it is again, but now lots of castles and skyscrapers must be overcome before we’re in open country. There I permit the Sun to set. Now it’s heading east. It’s showing my race the way. My heart goes with the Sun, my heart’s going with it all the way, everything’s beginning again and so I’m allowed to have some kind of heart. My homesickness encompasses the entire Earth. My love encompasses all its people. I feel them with every nerve, what I call heart is really only a central apparatus set in motion by the freely coursing currents of Allness. I begin to have an insight, that going to the oriental peoples is a better way to immerse oneself in Humanity. Caucasian blood is the general stock of humankind, but it’s less balanced than the blood of other races because it’s destined to take in alien blood and send greetings out to every side. It’s the aqua fortis of ancient nobility. That’s why it rages like a Deluge, scattering to all the four quarters. Its existence is a geological process, a transformation of the Earth’s surface. An oxidation of the Earth’s crust into the psychic. When humanity is a single uniform medium, when the Earth is no longer the Earth but a soul, a brain, when this final aggregate state is attained, then the Sun’s mission will be accomplished. It will cool. The astronomy of the skies will shift. The Earth will then be a substance more ethereal than the ether, the cosmos will be a planetary system of moods, of nerve-fluid . . . this is the dictum of the city.

The entire Earth will be a single city. Everywhere streets and railway lines. They’ll create fields on roofs, the kitchen gardens of Semiramis on top of skyscrapers. We shall build the Tower of Babel up over the Earth and the races shall disappear. Meanwhile the onward marching Caucasian tries to keep pace with a stationary Sun, and the spinning Earth throws the Orient at his feet and pressures him to fulfill its destiny. And it will happen. One day the Sun will no longer decline with the year. For twenty-four hours he will stand in the Sun’s skull, will climax for it without interruption. This happens as the entire Earth’s surface, now made movable, revolves to counter the speed of the Earth’s spinning . . .

As I sit in the park before sunset, I can unwrap the thought I’ve been carrying around all day as if in tissue paper. It’s too deep, too bottomless, I’m in no condition to think it all day long. I have its result in my head, but I can’t follow it. It can only be thought through as the answer to a doubt. If I don’t have the doubt, I can’t think the answer. Because it’s already there. I’d have to take it out first in order to put it back, that means I’d have to doubt whether it really acts that way. But when certainty is so great the whole day long, it won’t work. So I carry it – I can feel it – to the same bench in the same park, sit down carefully and then get started. Doubt comes to me with the sunset. What’s it for, all the daytime hustle? What’s it for, all that rush and effort? Development? Progress? Humanity? It will seem to me that a single beam of sunlight counterbalances all that. People could sit the whole day peacefully in sunshine, not push so hard, not hurt themselves, but rather treat themselves nicely. As the Sun sinks, blackbirds sing. A squirrel’s sitting on its butt, shoving a piece of mouldy shell into its mouth. It denies all culture, and so culture perishes, dies of a squirrel’s contempt. There’s a person sitting there, it’s evening, and it’s all in vain. The whole great city with its importance becomes small in the presence of a hatful of sunshine, makes a complete fool of itself faced with a squirrel’s appetite. Nothing can withstand those two overlarge incisors. In his two front paws he’s busily rolling a lump bigger than his head; he chews, and his little eyes are searching elsewhere. One pride after another vanishes between those greedy jaws. He gulps down the Brooklyn Bridge–oops, gives a little burp, and sneezes out a skyscraper that went down the wrong way. He has the vitality of a barn door, disposes of entire cargoes. Elevated railroad, telegraph, New York Herald, all gone to blazes. Every nerve he wipes out, root and branch, brings his lack of personality to full flower, lives in unruffled enjoyment of all the things that frame his horizon. Not even the poetic sunset, which after all is just as much a trapping of the animal kingdom, attracts the emotion due from him. Now he’s done, with an impulsive jerk he gives a tempting dessert a final once-over, his little eyes hook on something tasty, and he’s off like a squirrel-balloon, tail sweeping, piping with pleasure back to his nest. There he’ll snore through all the hours of darkness. He won’t grind his long teeth from too much neuroticism. And yet he’ll still live. Will live in despite of all other wisdom and all the associated culture . . .

At this moment when my thoughts have reached the level of a squirrel’s, my logic permits itself an observation. Nothing else, just makes me aware that the squirrel is as much a part of the culture as my thinker’s brain. After thoroughly working through my doubt, I can think the answer. I make use of the proffered opportunity to its fullest extent. The sunset is a cultural feature. The squirrel likewise. This park has been constructed to stage sunsets and a squirrel life, and the park would never have come into being had it not been a point in the development of the city. Only when you’ve been wheeled on underground rails are you ripe enough to ignite a sunset. To reflect in depth on a rodent, you must have stilled your own hunger in the same way that repeating the word culture hundreds of times makes you hoarse. The parting sun affirms everything. Only now do the sicknesses of the city find their justification. Nature is a vaudeville of civilisation, oh Nature was born first from the mind of Culture. There really is nothing at all, everything’s becoming. My daytime face confirms itself only after I’ve paid a subscription to my doubt and read it through to the end. I am situated in the midst of a huge sensuous organism. The evening’s factual prose is the cultural effect of the restless day’s developmental poetry and its achievement of consciousness. Dust in the ear’s shell and from the mucous membranes sweetens the blackbird’s song and peps up the smell of spring grass. The tiredness of eyes that read too much reinforces the dusk as it fades from heliotrope, and in particular summons caprices from the play of lines. The brutality of elbow-sports nourishes shared feelings and humanity . . .

A sudden start. Did something happen? I thought I was asleep. The city’s still bleeding, it must be nearly morning. I remember now; within me I bear a great longing that washes up out of the city. The city with her noises helps you think. She sets up a rhythm of ideas, fans the consciousness with her veils. But I don’t want to think. Oh to sleep! Is the man up there sleeping? If everything were proceeding properly, he’d be directing his thoughts my way . . .

I’m going to turn over, I’ve been lying on my stomach long enough. Otherwise my thoughts will be too acute. I think too well, because I have a man’s nerves. I’m hysterical. Hysteria is when a female has the nerves of a man. But when a man has the scrupulous race-instinct of a woman, when he has to keep on and keep on searching, when he doesn’t take his antagonist in cold blood but like a woman searches eternally for the answer to his worth . . .

I am definitely totally hysterical. If I didn’t know for sure that I’m a woman, I would know for sure that I’m a man. Hysteria is progress. It ensures the progress of the race. I want a hysterical man of my own; he’s the highest type.

The head is the essential thing. If I think back correctly, it’s always the same skull that has played a role in my desires. He shouldn’t be a bareback rider who tells anecdotes in the evening in well-pressed trousers. The crack! of a revolver tingles, but I know it too well, it’s not another of his caresses. It’s all about the brain. He has narrow shoulders and tender arms, his body is a boy’s body, with the lissom strength of youth. His chin has the merest wisp of bumfluff. His head is long, the mouth saucy, the lips thin and soft and their pale dry flesh sets off the smooth tanned complexion. His head is a pate with an unusually domed skull that has a clearly visible edge. The hair is raven-black and parted in the middle. It lies flat, pressed a little onto the temples. It’s the head of an Indian chief. Of a clever creature. The eyes are small and greenish, sometimes he wears a pince-nez. When he takes it off, his eyes are distant and a little red. He looks helpless, you want to say to him, “My boy!” His head must be a good one, you have to sense his cleverness and his goodness when you put both arms around it. Behind the pince-nez something always seems to be going on. There lurks the expression of an intelligent ape: genius and savagery. One of the strongest but least interpretable traits is the one of fear. Fear lends intelligence to a face. For fear is the intuiting and the intimacy of higher powers. The moment an ape expresses fear, it resembles a man. The brain is the power that conceives possibilities. Possibilities are the commerce of fear. The secret of a clever face is its fear . . .

The complexion is clean-shaven. There’s a blue shadow on the cheeks. He comes from somewhere in the depths of the race-soul. We go together to the land of cherry blossom, following the sun, in the vanguard of our races . . .

And the city is still awake. Like me. She never sleeps. It’ll soon be morning. The darkness no longer glows red, it’s starting to turn blue. But the fear that jangles amid the noises of the city is still there. Morning will never come. Now, after all, the city has told me everything about the man, I thought she’d exhausted that chapter . . . It can never be exhausted. Any more than the city. Any more than fear. Any more than becoming . . .

I have the nerves of a man. My pelvis is narrow, I shall never have a child. What for? Children are burdensome. Our generation doesn’t give birth, it’s too childish. We still have the sweet tooth of a child. Procreation happens through our brain. Our descendants are in the East: those are the people who still have babies. We construct a machine, we invent an artillery piece, we love one another in the community of our work. And we use it to conquer the East, bring our language, our civilisation to foreign peoples, and our blood. The blood of our race is an essence. One drop is enough to sprout an entire people. We bring them our brain, to which they powerlessly submit, we exploit their fecundity for our own ends, we colonise the values of life. It’s our duty not to propagate ourselves. Our semen is thoughts. We can no longer create a viable breed. Our pleasure-addiction and our nerves kill with their rays the powers of our sperm. Only the basic blood of our race is good for grafting. We the finished, the used-up of our race propagate in a higher dimension. Our children come from the brain and go to brains . . .

In the cell-like room of a giant New York hotel, at this early morning hour a gentle breath of light fell upon the elegant simple furniture. Yellow nuclei emerged on the brass rails of the bed. The bare bleary face of a young man lay on the crumpled pillow, the eyes opened to a weary crack and peered for a minute into the darkness. Suddenly the face seemed to have comprehended the transformation. The eyes closed, a few seconds later the chest began to heave more evidently, nervous spasms accompanied this process. A small quicksilvery being slipped out of the shadows, said “Father” and assumed the features of a little ape. It approached the sleeping man’s chest, which gave a sudden sob. Slowly it grew calmer and succumbed to the gathering morning’s sense of well-being. Around six o’clock limbs with long muscles lay taut, energetically sealed features were completely configured there. The day broke defiantly.

Around a quarter past eight the bell in the vestibule of the fifteenth floor of this hotel tinkled, and the number one hundred and fifty seven flipped up. When the bellhop went to enquire, a young man was standing in a nightshirt in the middle of the room lifting a little barbell in each hand; he demanded a bath. It wasn’t long before the hotel guest came back in a dressing gown. A slanting sheaf of light ended on the floor by the window. The air was warm; in the distance, light was pearling gently over roofs of burning bronze. The full-blossomed pathos of the big-city landscape did not fail to exercise its effect on the human creature. It aroused quarrelsomeness, and the melancholy of the real. The bellhop brought the wide smart shoes that would have to produce a confident sophisticated step, the well-cut suit in a light grey-brown that hung from the coat-hanger was not without signs of masculine charm even in these circumstances. The bellhop was courteous and exact in his work. Within five minutes a breakfast was ready. Nothing was out of place, nothing that did not await its practical application. The electric bulb of frosted glass hung dry beneath its enamel shade and at the wave of a hand would flood the room with light. Everything was functional and real. There were no adventures to be had with the furniture standing around, and paradoxes remained in the brain, which made better headway with its conceptions in the presence of these straightforward proportions. Within this sobriety of forms that bordered on beggarliness, the young man felt himself becoming sharp-witted, and as it were still surprised at his own affirmation, however often he might deny it. He thought, “Our children come from the brain,” and directed a tender look around the room. It was all a true promise of progeny, was reality. It reminded him of a self-imposed duty, of a view of the world reasserted every day, which must be sustained though not without difficulties. The swift sudden interruption to the sleep from which he had been gradually emerging, the physical exercise and the shower had made him naïve and fleshly. Some time passed before he found his way back to the accomplishment of his panicky thoughts, it cost him some anxiety, like a nervous singer checking whether his voice still sits right. This consciousness belonged to his accoutrements like a toiletry item that he uses methodically day after day; its disposability never ever put him in a happy frame of mind. When he became aware of the respectability of his condition, he was slightly shocked. He tried to reflect on a few sophisms that he so to speak had in stock, in order at every moment to educate himself through an exercise. He was convinced of the ethical value of this false procedure. The lie was productive, and from sickliness there streamed the most immaculate pleasure. For after all the brain was only the most refined of crystalline formations, and human intellect the latest result of a weathering process on the Earth’s surface, and yet it gained its most fruitful direction from the law of a duality, of number, from the symbol of the lie. That duality, Love, was the most real and at the same time most mendacious.

There now followed the loveliest and most flavoursome aspects of life. Phantoms of elegant women drifted past. Civilisation, for all its absence of veils, had an erotic undercurrent. A generation tore, screwed, violated itself into manliness, for woman had become more stand-offish than ever, and could hardly be won.

The nocturnal trains of thought cut across his musings. What was reality? A mythological assemblage, a means to poetic style. The birth of the world from the head of a Zeus-like youth. The city, the woman, were the children of a brain. Reality? What would this tawdry room mean to him had he been born with a peasant’s brain? What if he had been a squirrel, and this reality, suppose, suppose he were a woman . . .

At around ten that morning an inconspicuous young man with blasé foreign-looking facial features was seen leaving the hotel. The city came rushing to meet him. He squared his shoulders to keep her in the adventure. He had seen into her soul, her masculine and her feminine character, her hybrid being, the kind of hermaphrodite that the city engendered from her own ideology. The nameless became a name.

Bios

Robert Müller

Robert Müller (1887-1924) was a many-sided cultural activist in early 20th-century ViennaExpressionist writer, editor, critic, publisher, and promoter (he organised Karl May’s last public appearance in 1912). Forgotten for more than half a century after his suicide in 1924, his works are slowly gaining critical attention in German-speaking lands, especially his remarkable 1915 novel Tropics – the Myth of the Journey. Alfred Döblin praised him as a "dazzling wordsmith."

C D Godwin

C D Godwin’s translation of Alfred Döblin’s first great epic fiction The Three Leaps of Wang Lun is published by New York Review Books. His translations of four other Döblin novels are available at his website https://beyond-alexanderplatz.com, along with much other material on Döblin and contemporaries he particularly admired. He is currently translating Müller’s novel TROPICS.

English translation copyright (c) C D Godwin, 2020.