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the Complete Review
the complete review - literature

»Julia, laß das!«

Susanne Fischer

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To purchase »Julia, laß das!«

Title: »Julia, laß das!«
Author: Susanne Fischer
Genre: Documentary
Written: 2021
Length: 125 pages
Original in: German
Availability: »Julia, laß das!« - Deutschland
  • Arno Schmidts Zettelkasten zu Julia, oder die Gemälde
  • »Julia, laß das!« has not been translated into English
  • With a selection of photographs by Jan Philipp Reemtsma

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Our Assessment:

(-) : a very attractive volume; a useful complement to the novel

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
Frankfurter Rundschau . 29/11/2021 H.-J.Linke
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung . 11/12/2021 Tilman Spreckelsen

  From the Reviews:
  • "Sie sichtet, zählt, analysiert die Ordnung und unternimmt eine genaue, gleichwohl philologisch eher bescheiden auftretende als generös umherschweifende Deutungsarbeit. Es entsteht eine zugänglich gemachte Bestandsaufnahme des Zettel-Konvoluts, die zugleich die Vergeblichkeit einer erfolgreichen Dechiffrierarbeit vor Augen führt. (...) Beunruhigend dagegen fällt die Antwort auf die Frage aus, ob man dieses Buch unbedingt noch gebraucht hätte, als Schmidt-Leser und -Anhänger. Schmidt zeigt sich, von Susanne Fischer ohne Eifer, ohne Zorn analysiert, als bornierter Provinzbewohner, der in seinem enger werdenden Horizont zufrieden ist und das als Überlegenheitsgefühl ausstellt." - Hans-Jürgen Linke, Frankfurter Rundschau

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       Arno Schmidt famously wrote out thousands of notecards -- 'Zettel' -- in preparing his novels, most famously for Bottom's Dream -- Zettel's Traum in the original -- and in »Julia, laß das!« Susanne Fischer offers an overview of, as the subtitle has it: Arno Schmidts Zettelkasten zu Julia, oder die Gemälde, his final, unfinished novel.
       There are 13,339 such Zettel for this novel in the Bargfeld Archive, and Fischer reproduces several hundred in this volume, along with a helpful appendix with a transcription of each of these.
       Some 4800 of the Zettel correspond to the extant manuscript, a fragment of 100 pages, suggesting Schmidt completed about a third of the planned text. (The story takes place over three days, and cuts off somewhere early on the second day.) In discussing these she is able to compare Schmidt's notes and jottings with the existing text, providing interesting insight into Schmidt's working-method and how he used this material in his writing.
       Of course, the real interest lies in the rest -- the material that Schmidt was never able to work into text. By following the Zettel, Fischer can point out some of the action that could be expected, as well as themes and subjects Schmidt apparently planned to discuss. Very generally, a story-outline is discernible -- though, based on fragments, it remains very fragmentary; readers only get a little more sense of how the finished novel might have looked. So also, while, for example, the cast-of-characters-list and the outline included in the actual text already alert readers to a finale ten years after the main action, with 'Jhering auf Bild' (Jhering finding himself, like the Julia of the title, in a painting), the more extensive Zettel suggest both more to the scene -- the finale apparently also catches up with the various other pairings in the story, a decade on -- and a somewhat sketch-like quality to the centerpiece of finding Jhering reduced to two dimensions here, Schmidt presumably not yet having found exactly the phrasing(s) he wanted for the scene.
       Fischer's survey does offer interesting insights into a variety of scenes and themes in the novel -- as well as helpful glosses such as that the symbol now widely referred to as a hashtag (#) is used by Schmidt to indicate sexual intercourse ..... The volume is a useful supplement to the novel itself, though it only gives a rough impression of what else readers could have expected from it -- many of the details, but only to a limited extent how Schmidt might have de- and employed them.
       With (color) photographs of the individual Zettel that are discussed, »Julia, laß das!« is a very attractive volume, as well. A nice bonus, too, is a section of twenty-five photographs taken by Jan Philipp Reemtsma in June, 1979, shortly after Schmidt's death, of Schmidt's house, study, and work-space, complete with the final Zettel he was using still spread out on his desk, the last page of the manuscript he was working on still in the typewriter.
       Among the amusing Zettel Fischer provides is one late one (11,880) where Schmidt considers: "Überlegung: ob der Autor nicht die sortierten Zettel\Materialien hinten, am Buchende, mitliefern sollte ?" ('Worth considering: whether the author shouldn't provide the sorted notes\materials in back, at the end of the book ?'). Over 13,000 notes is a lot of material -- but I, for one, would be all for it, in this and most every case. (Though a separate, supplemental volume attached to the book-proper might be better than just tacked on at the back.)
       A physically lovely book, »Julia, laß das!« should be of interest to anyone interested in how Schmidt worked; obviously, it is particularly recommended as a companion volume to Julia, oder die Gemälde itself.

- M.A.Orthofer, 27 June 2023

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»Julia, laß das!«: Reviews: Arno Schmidt: Other books by Arno Schmidt under review: Books about Arno Schmidt under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Susanne Fischer is manager of the Arno Schmidt Stiftung. She was born in 1960.

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© 2023 the complete review

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