Episode 10: The Kraus Project

In this episode, we’re joined by novelist Nell Zink to discuss The Kraus Project. Published in 2013, The Kraus Project is ostensibly a work of translation. For four decades, Jonathan Franzen had been trying to translate the work of the notoriously dense Viennese satirist and critic Karl Kraus, a kind of hater’s hater, whose constant word play and allusions make him difficult to translate. Here, at long last, he completes his Kraus project, collecting translations of four essays and a poem. However, the book is most interesting for its footnotes, some of which provide helpful historical context to Kraus’s often incomprehensible prose and some of which contain Franzen at his most unhinged, including long rants about technology and revealing excerpts from letters written by a young Franzen to the woman who would become his ex-wife.

About Mr. Difficult

How did Jonathan Franzen become America’s most divisive novelist? Is he even good? And what’s the deal with his relationship with birds, anyway? Mr. Difficult is a podcast devoted to exploring these and many other questions related to this great American novelist. (Or is it the great American novelist?) Join co-hosts Erin Somers and Alex Shephard and producer Eric Jett as they discuss each of Franzen’s six novels, as well as his nonfiction.