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Irony's Antics

August 1, 2015

Walser, Kafka, Roth, and the German Comic Tradition

Erica Weitzman

Irony's Antics marks a major intervention into the underexplored role of the comic in German letters. At the book's heart is the relationship between the comic and irony. Weitzman argues that in the early twentieth century, irony, a key figure for the German Romantics, reemerged from its relegation to "nonsense" in a way that both rethought Romantic irony and dramatically extended its reach.

Through readings of works by Robert Walser, Franz Kafka, and Joseph Roth, as well as theorists of the comic such as Freud, Schlegel, Hegel, Kierkegaard, and Jean Paul, Irony's Antics traces the development of a specifically comic irony, a play with irony that is itself the condition for all play. It thus constitutes a significant advance in German literary history and shows how the question of the comic has been and continues to be decisive for modern thought.

For more information and/or to order the book, go to Northwestern University Press.