Hermann Ungar – The Maimed

Hermann Ungar is best known nowadays in America as an alternative to Kafka.  Indeed, he bears some resemblance, being a Jewish Czech writer in the 1920s, and his writing is filled with some of the same sense of dread and paranoia.  But The Maimed is far more stark, far less ornate, far more matter-of-fact in prose than even Kafka at his most creepily minimal.

At its essence, The Maimed is a picture of the worst outcome of standardized time.  The protagonist Franz Polzer takes comfort in the clock’s regularity, to the point where the slightest threat of an interruption disturbs him to his very core.  Polzer lives with the widow Porges, works as a lowly clerk at a bank, and visits his old childhood friend Karl Fanta, whose health has failed completely and left him a helpless, though rich, cripple.

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