Tag Archive for Lensing

Lensing Reviews Biography of Fritz Lang

UnknownLeo Lensing, professor of film studies, is the author of a review essay titled “Fritz Lang, man of the eye. On the Edgar Allan Poe of German Cinema,” published in the June 15 issue of the Times Literary Supplement (London). The TLS cover article takes stock of Fritz Lang. Die Biographie (Propyläen Verlag, 2014), the first full-length biography in German of the great Austrian-German filmmaker Fritz Lang (1890-1976), and compares it unfavorably with Fritz Lang. The Nature of the Beast, the standard American life by Patrick McGilligan.

Lang’s reputation, Lensing writes, continues to be linked primarily to two films he made during the Weimar Republic: “the famous blockbuster flop Metropolis (1927)”; and M (1931), “the infamously empathetic profile of a serial killer, which Lang often called his favorite. Metropolis, still often categorized as ‘a flawed masterpiece’ by film scholars, has become even more popular and influential. Every metropolitan dystopia from Blade Runner to Batman Returns owes something to its visionary scenario of a technologically unhinged future.”

Lensing writes that “Grob’s treatment of the monumental making of this ‘urtext of cinematic modernity’ (Thomas Elsaesser) typifies his biography’s modest virtues. Grob’s narrative often veers between compact scenarios and long, thinly fleshed-out lists of people met, films seen, theater performances attended, art exhibitions visited and, especially, women wined and dined. While this enhanced name-dropping with its litany of intellectual, artistic and erotic contacts can be beguiling, the overall effect raises questions of the kind for which a biographer should supply answers.”

Lensing’s Commentary Featured in Times Literary Supplement

A commentary by Leo Lensing, chair and professor of German studies, professor of film studies, was featured in the Times Literary Supplement in January.

The commentary focuses on Austria’s exploitation of Karl Kraus’s great anti-war drama, The Last Days of Mankind, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the First World War. Kraus first published the play in four special issues of his satirical journal Die Fackel (The Torch) in 1918–19.

“The red wrappers and the documentary photograph of Wilhelm II used as the frontispiece of the epilogue initially lent it the explosive impact of a revolutionary pamphlet,” Lensing writes in the commentary. “Kraus continued to revise and add new scenes based on information suppressed under war-time censorship, until the first book edition appeared in 1922.”

 

Lensing Co-Edits Arthur Schnitzler’s Dream Journal

Book edited by Leo Lensing

Leo Lensing, chair and professor of German studies, professor of film studies, is the co-editor of the book, Träume. Das Traumtagebuch 1875-1931, published by Wallstein Verlag in 2012. Träume is the dream journal of Austrian writer Arthur Schnitzler (1862-1931). Schnitzler is the author of La Ronde, Fräulein Else and other classics of early 20-century Austrian literature.

Prepared together with Peter Michael Braunwarth to celebrate Schnitzler’s 150th birthday, the revised and expanded version of the dream texts originally included in Schnitzler’s diaries can be read as an implicit challenge to Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams. Schnitzler’s Träume (Dreams) is both an “unconscious” autobiography of its author, whom Freud called his doppelgänger, and a dark, surreal reflection of the era between the final phase of the Habsburg Empire and the rise of fascism in the 1920s. His dreams are peopled not only by his family and famous Viennese contemporaries, including Freud, Mahler, Klimt, Karl Kraus and Hugo von Hofmannsthal, but also by Goethe, Mozart, Wagner, Emperor Franz Joseph, Kaiser Wilhelm and even Marlene Dietrich.

Träume has elicited an unexpectedly wide and positive response in the Austrian and German media. An early review of the book in the Viennese music journal Der neue Merker marveled over the “profound richness” of the dream texts and praised commentary and afterword as a “compendium of knowledge” about Schnitzler’s world. ORF TV (Austrian National Television) presented a feature on the book in the evening news on May 6, and Austrian Public Radio included a review a month earlier in “Ex libris,” a weekly program discussing new books. Deutschlandfunk, Deutschland Radio and Westdeutscher Rundfunk, three of Germany’s most prominent public radio stations, broadcast extensive reviews; Deutschlandfunk also named Träume “Book of the Week” on May 15 (Schnitzler’s birthday).

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung published a full-page excerpt from the book in its Sunday edition in February and followed up with a positive review and the designation as one of five “Books of the Week” on May 15. The reviewer for the prestigious Arts pages of the Süddeutsche Zeitung (Munich) called Träume “the most fascinating new book of the season,” and Die Welt (Berlin) published a two-page spread that combined a review with lengthy excerpts. Austrian Public Radio has just named the book to its May “Bestenliste,” the 10 best books of the month. Sales have been brisk, and a second printing is due out in mid-June.

Lensing Edits Book on Viennese Writer Peter Altenberg

Book edited by Leo Lensing.

Book edited by Leo Lensing.

Leo Lensing, chair and professor of German studies, professor of film studies, is the editor of the book, Peter Altenberg: The Self-Invention of a Poet. Letters and Documents 1892-1896, published by the Wallstein Verlag (Goettingen) in Germany.

The 210-page book, published in September, documents the beginning of the literary career of the Viennese writer Peter Altenberg (1859-1919).

The book received positive reviews in a Sept. 28 issue of The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, whose arts pages are the most prestigious in the German-speaking world.