Kzradock the Onion Man and the Spring-Fresh Methuselah by Louis Levy, translated by W. C. Bamberger / ISBN 9781939663283 / small 152-page paperback with flaps from Wakefield Press
Originally published in Danish in 1910, Kzradock the Onion Man and the Spring-Fresh Methuselah is a fevered pulp novel that reads like nothing else of its time: an anomaly within the tradition of the Danish novel, and one that makes for a startlingly modern read to this day. Combining elements of the serial film, detective story and gothic horror novel, Kzradock is a surreal foray into psychoanalytic mysticism.
Opening in a Parisian insane asylum where Dr. Renard de Montpensier is conducting hypnotic séances with the titular Onion Man, the novel escalates quickly with the introduction of battling detectives, murders and a puma in a hallucinating movie theater before shifting to the chalk cliffs of Brighton. It is there that the narrator must confront a ghost child, a scalped detective, a skeleton, a deaf-mute dog and a manipulative tapeworm in order to properly confront his own sanity and learn the spiritual lesson of the human onion.
When Gershom Scholem read the novel in its 1912 German translation on the recommendation of Walter Benjamin, he concluded: “This is a great book, and it speaks a formidable language … This book lays out the metaphysics of doubt.”