The Other Side by Alfred Kubin, the only novel by this artist / ISBN 9781910213032 / translated by Mike Mitchell
The Other Side tells of a dream kingdom which becomes a nightmare, of a journey to Pearl, a mysterious city created deep in Asia, which is also a journey to the depths of the subconscious, or as Kubin himself called it, "a sort of Baedeker for those lands which are half known to us."
"It was almost a vision of evil."--Kandinsky
Written in 1908, and more or less half way between Meyrink and Kafka, it was greeted with wild enthusiasm by the artists and writers of the Expressionist generation.
"Expressionist illustrator Kubin wrote this fascinating curio, his only literary work in 1908. A town named Pearl, assembled and presided over by the aptly named Patera, is the setting for his hallucinatory vision of a society founded on instinct over reason. Culminating apocalyptically - plagues of insects, mountains of corpses and orgies in the street - it is worth reading for its dizzying surrealism alone. Though ostensibly a gothic macabre fantasy, it is tempting to read The Other Side as a satire on the reactionary, idealist utopianism evident in German thought in the early twentieth century, highly prescient in its gloom, given later developments. The language often suggests Nietsche. The inevitable collapse of Patera's creation is lent added horror by hindsight. Kubin's depiction of absurd bureaucracy is strongly reminiscent of Kafka's The Trial, and his flawed utopia, situated next to a settlement of supposed savages, brings to mind Huxley's Brave New World; it precedes both novels, and this superb new translation could demonstrate its influence on subsequent modern literature."--Kieron Pim in Time Out
Alfred Kubin (1877-1959) was one of the major graphic artists of the 20th century who was widely known for his illustrations of writers of the fantastic such as Balzac, E.T.A. Hoffmann, Gustav Meyrink and Edgar Allan Poe, of whom he illustrated at least 50 books. In his combination of the darkly decadent, the fantastic and the grotesque, in his evocations of dream and nightmare, his creation of an atmosphere of mystery and fear he resembles Mervyn Peake. The Other Side (1908) is his only work of fiction.
Mike Mitchell has published over seventy translations from German and French, including Gustav Meyrink's five novels and The Dedalus Book of Austrian Fantasy. His translation of Rosendorfer's Letters Back to Ancient China won the 1998 Schlegel-Tieck Translation Prize after he had been shortlisted in previous years for his translations of Stephanie by Herbert Rosendorfer and The Golem by Gustav Meyrink. His translations have been shortlisted four times for The Oxford Weidenfeld Translation Prize, including for The Other Side by Alfred Kubin in 2000.