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13 Pounds of Literature

Bottom’s Dream is coming, September 23 to be exact. Written by the major postwar German author Arno Schmidt, it is 1500 pages long, measures 11 x 14, and weighs 13 pounds. It is almost surely the largest work of literature yet released this millennium, and it is described as an unreadable work of pure genius on par with Finnegans Wake.

Per The New York Times,

That book is in some sense Schmidt’s response to “Finnegans Wake”; it is a sprawling novel about a brief period, from 4 A.M. to early the next morning, outwardly centered on a discussion of that American father of European modernism, Edgar Allan Poe. Written in three columns and published only as a facsimile of an idiosyncratic typography designed by the author, the “Dream” represents the ultimate but untranslatable challenge to any translator.

traum

It was originally published in 1970, and the title is a reference to the character Bottom from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Per the Complete Review, it contains 2,225,000 words, which, if correct, would make it approximately 4 times the length of War and Peace.

John Woods, one of the great German translators of our time, is the one who has brought it into English. At a pay rate of 10 cents per word, Woods would have earned in excess of $200,000 for this translation.



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