Blaugast: A Novel of Decline
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Are you interested in catastrophes?
Blaugast is a tale of ruin. A bored clerk, Klaudius Blaugast, pursues his desires down a path spiraling into complete degradation. Homeless and destitute, having lost everything to the evil prostitute Wanda, he seeks redemption in a Prague that has become sybaritic and uncaring — a city in which he has become an outcast among the outcasts. Flashbacks to incidents in his past, hallucinatory revelations of the meaning of events long forgotten, point to the seeds of his eventual downfall.
Leppin's final novel, which he never saw published (the typescript languished for decades after his death in the archives in Prague), Blaugast is an indictment of the despotic and vulgar, an exploration of the sadistic tendencies found amongst the "moral" and "respectable." Max Brod's depiction of Leppin as "a poet of eternal disillusionment, at once a servant of the Devil and an adorer of the Madonna" nowhere rings more true than here.
followed him, coming toward him with his ears abuzz. “Sewer Prince!” he slurred decrepitly with his swollen mouth. The address came to him as if the last scrap of a disgusting caress, stomped upon by careless feet, dragged through puddles savagely and mindlessly, clinging to him as a permanent designation. Thus rolled his wheelbarrow, devoid of brakes in gutters dry of rain, down steep mountain passes. When by chance he loosened his gaze from the pavement, he peered into the display windows at
I want to wash my hair until it glows, and to paint my mouth with fragrant lipstick. Everyone ought to love me then. – Everyone.” God’s voice resounded throughout the heavenly halls. “Granted!” He commanded, and smiled benignly. Unending cheer echoed immediately throughout the hall, shattered by the marble panels and the mosaics encrusted with diamond. The catechist with the butterfly net giggled respectfully, and the trumpeting angels in the corners rolled around with laughter, patting their
professional managers and merchants, dirty napkins clamped under their arms, the front of their frocks festooned with coffee stains resembling decorations worn by Bearers of the Order, bowed their bald skulls before him. “A new arrival. Vivacious and extremely striking. Fair and innocent, too –” Stooping in a manner both patronizing and brash, the guest of honor made note of the victim’s description. “Where is the young thing? What can she do? Does she have any talents?” “The brunette over
second conference were collected in the volume Weltfreunde [Friends of the World], which became the foundation for all future research and led to a number of theses and dissertations addressing this forgotten literary and cultural past. Leppin’s rediscovery can be credited to Božena Koseková’s 1966 master’s thesis (written in Czech). It was the first extensive overview of Leppin’s life and work and it formed the basis of her contribution to Weltfreunde, “Ein Rückblick auf Paul Leppin” [A
potatoes made the room inhospitable. The painter threw some change onto the unclean table and turned toward the stairs. Then Blaugast stepped up to the girl’s bed. She looked at him with troubled eyes, straightened her covers, but the blanket was worn and not big enough. Under the tatters her leg came into view, baring itself up to the knee. It was an emaciated, sinewy leg that fatally aroused him. In the hollows of its joints, under the curvature of its taut tendons, there were highlights with