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On the Edge of Reason (Revived Modern Classic)

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"On the Edge of Reason is one of the great European novels of the first half of the twentieth century – and Krleza's themes, his seriousness, his protest against the normality of delusion and cruelty, could hardly be more relevant to the century's end." —Susan Sontag During his long and distinguished career, the Croatian writer Miroslav Krleza (1893-1981) battled against ma "On the Edge of Reason is one of the great European novels of the first half of the twentieth century – and Krleza's themes, his seriousness, his protest against the normality of delusion and cruelty, could hardly be more relevant to the century's end." —Susan Sontag During his long and distinguished career, the Croatian writer Miroslav Krleza (1893-1981) battled against many forms of tyranny. In On the Edge of Reason, his protagonist is a middle-aged lawyer whose life and career have been eminently respectable and respected. One evening, at a party attended by the local elite, he inadvertently blurts out an honest thought. From this moment, all hell breaks loose.... On the Edge of Reason reveals the fundamental chasm between conformity and individuality. As folly piles on folly, hypocrisy on hypocrisy, reason itself begins to give way, and the edge between reality and unreality disappears.


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"On the Edge of Reason is one of the great European novels of the first half of the twentieth century – and Krleza's themes, his seriousness, his protest against the normality of delusion and cruelty, could hardly be more relevant to the century's end." —Susan Sontag During his long and distinguished career, the Croatian writer Miroslav Krleza (1893-1981) battled against ma "On the Edge of Reason is one of the great European novels of the first half of the twentieth century – and Krleza's themes, his seriousness, his protest against the normality of delusion and cruelty, could hardly be more relevant to the century's end." —Susan Sontag During his long and distinguished career, the Croatian writer Miroslav Krleza (1893-1981) battled against many forms of tyranny. In On the Edge of Reason, his protagonist is a middle-aged lawyer whose life and career have been eminently respectable and respected. One evening, at a party attended by the local elite, he inadvertently blurts out an honest thought. From this moment, all hell breaks loose.... On the Edge of Reason reveals the fundamental chasm between conformity and individuality. As folly piles on folly, hypocrisy on hypocrisy, reason itself begins to give way, and the edge between reality and unreality disappears.

30 review for On the Edge of Reason (Revived Modern Classic)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Greg

    The majority of the people I work with are slaves to this little electronic device that you scan books with. It's called a PDT. The PDT tells you where to shelve the book, and if it does a loud sing-song series of beeps one is supposed to return the book. Most people when they hear that beep they write up a little slip with the return vendors name ASAP and get that book onto a cart to be shipped back. The problem is the PDT has no brain and it's only reacting to a list generated by some faceless The majority of the people I work with are slaves to this little electronic device that you scan books with. It's called a PDT. The PDT tells you where to shelve the book, and if it does a loud sing-song series of beeps one is supposed to return the book. Most people when they hear that beep they write up a little slip with the return vendors name ASAP and get that book onto a cart to be shipped back. The problem is the PDT has no brain and it's only reacting to a list generated by some faceless entity, or a computer program written by a logical ingrate that doesn't know if a book is selling or not. Store specific sales don't matter to the PDT, it will beep because somewhere it has a file that it connects with that says when ISBN number X is scanned, beep! The book can be selling ten copies a week but the PDT signal the book be gone, and most people go right along with what the little mindless piece of plastic tells them to do. I've been in many battles over the years with people over keeping books that are selling when the PDT tells them return them. These battles are usually waged guerilla style because it's easier to just liberate the books from return carts than to try to explain for the umpteenth time to someone the logic of keeping a book that is selling versus returning it. I've gotten 'talked' to by managers for this. I've had to usurp the attempted returns by managers. I've had to talk other people into not listening to the managers when they say get rid of something. I've had an employee go rat me out to the store manager because I wasn't listening to the PDT and instead kept books based on sales. This is just a small example from my own life of having to deal with certain blind-obedience to illogical dictates but it's tiresome and at times it feels so much easier to just say fuck it, return everything the stupid little machine tells me to and not have to worry about having to fight with someone over trying to do what is best for the store. It would be easier to just say, yup that is the way it should be done it doesn't make any sense to me but in the hierarchical structure of the company those above me must know what is best and if they say to do something I shouldn't even think about it but just do it. This book made me think of other stupid things that go on with the company I work for but I'll keep those things to myself for now. So many stupid things in fact that are mostly the result of a long succession of people just nodding along to idiocy. Not that this book has anything to do with bookselling or corporate retail or anything like that. This book is an absurd look at what happens when an unremarkable middle class man speaks his mind at a dinner party. The man calls a captain of industry an immoral murderer after hearing a story about how the rich man shot four peasants in the back for trying to steal some wine out of his cellar. This breach in decorum reverberates through the town and creates a series of devastating repercussions for the narrator. Previous to speaking his mind about the morality of shooting fleeing men in the back with a rifle and calling the deed heroic he had felt that confines of the groupspeak conformity he lived in to be increasingly stifling; after speaking his mind he sees that what passes for accepted opinions and acceptable decorum is going along with what passes for public opinion without any deviation. The book is an exaggerated extreme about what happens when someone decides to let morality and truth dictate their actions rather than etiquette and decorum but I think that there are lots of little lessons contained in this slim volume and maybe even more fingers pointing that too often doing what is right is ignored because it goes against the grain. I could start listing all the ways that I cowardly and silently just go along with things that I know are wrong, but I'm trying to be less negative about myself in these reviews, so instead I'll just make myself the hero of books and pretend that I'm really a great and virtuous person who always does what is right as opposed to what is easiest, or most accepted. Anyway, On the Edge of Reason is a great, amazing book. I think people should read it, and maybe I should have given it five stars, but it feels more like a four and a half star book. I think I went with four stars because it's so much in the same vein as Thomas Bernhard (although this came I think at least twenty years before Bernhard wrote his first novel) and I think that Bernhard does the first person misanthropic loner against society thing I bit better, but maybe it's just because I had read Bernhard first, and if I had read Krleža (I did that little z thing myself, that wasn't cut and pasted, yo!) first then I would have given this five stars. I want to find more books by this scathing Croatian author! P.S. A quote I meant to include somewhere in the review: Everybody forges signatures on promissory notes, everybody bribes, tells lies, steals and cheats and amasses money, and only the shipwrecked person who were born as righteous men--that is, people whose never have been underminded to such an extent that their vital instincts have been subordinated to their brains--become rags crushed and spat on, because they do not know who to adjust themselves to the animal farm where one single rule is domiant: that the blood let out from the throat of one's neighbor is the warmest and consequently the most nourishing.... You see, I have been crushed. Why? Because I dared to opposed human folly. (ellipses in the text itself)

  2. 4 out of 5

    Tony

    Our first-person protagonist is unnamed. He's a Croation lawyer, working for a very politically connected businessman. Drunk at a party he's hosting, the businessman loudly brags about his killing of four men who were trying to break into his cellar to steal a liter of Riesling. Two he shot at the cellar door; the other two at the fence that led to safety. All were shot in the back. The incident happened thirty years before, but the businessman relishes the telling of his killing the four "mad d Our first-person protagonist is unnamed. He's a Croation lawyer, working for a very politically connected businessman. Drunk at a party he's hosting, the businessman loudly brags about his killing of four men who were trying to break into his cellar to steal a liter of Riesling. Two he shot at the cellar door; the other two at the fence that led to safety. All were shot in the back. The incident happened thirty years before, but the businessman relishes the telling of his killing the four "mad dogs." Our protagonist has a moment of clarity. And yet, he didn't mean to say what he said. He merely thought it, but it came out anyhow, absent-mindedly perhaps, but at the precise moment when the businessman was taking a breath between bombasts. And there it was: it was all a crime, a bloody thing, moral insanity. He's given the chance to retract. But, nuh-uh. Not this time. Krleža skewers government, politics, and, mostly, human nature in what follows. He does so in a way that is accessible, funny, and profound. There's no earthly reason or excuse for not reading this. Remember, our first-person protagonist is unnamed. Who knows, it could be you.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca Duncan

    Although this is a Croatian literary classic, this work definitely deserves to be included in all those "must-read-before-you-die", "best books of all time" or "read this if you want people to think you're an intellectual." This rating may seem a bit overly patriotic and somewhat far - fetched, but once you get inside the main points of this amazing and breathtaking novel, I think you will not be reluctant to change your mind. As the title itself suggests, the work is basically written "on the edg Although this is a Croatian literary classic, this work definitely deserves to be included in all those "must-read-before-you-die", "best books of all time" or "read this if you want people to think you're an intellectual." This rating may seem a bit overly patriotic and somewhat far - fetched, but once you get inside the main points of this amazing and breathtaking novel, I think you will not be reluctant to change your mind. As the title itself suggests, the work is basically written "on the edge of reason". The main character is a respected member of the community, lives in a relatively unhappy marriage and has three children, three girls to which he refers to, at the very beginning as "three stupid geese". He is full of resentment and scorn towards his marriage,the town he lives in,the provincials who surround him, but he is disgusted most by himself. He knows that his life is a farce, but he does not have the courage to end with it, as he is angry and critical towards himself the most, because everything aforementioned is an image of himself, and reminds him of his failures. One evening, after having drank a couple of glasses of wine, sitting in a garden with his wife and some very important townsfolk, he makes a sarcastic comment under his breath when the host of the evening starts bragging about his criminal ventures after the First World War. Literary, all hell breaks loose, and after that, he becomes a true social outcast. This is basically the plot, but what attracts the attention of the reader the most is a brisk critique of human stupidity, which is unlimited. The novel is written with such poignancy that the reader is left with his mouth and mind wide open after reading. To end this review, I would like to paraphrase one of my favorite lines in the book: "It stinks to be with people, but it's quite warm." Enjoy your reading!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Caroline

    Krleza deceptively starts off with his protagonist penning a banal self-portrait; he is, he tells us, a well-meaning nonentity who has a high tolerance for the vast folly he see around him as he drifts through life, corporate attorney for a manufacturing company. Ho-hum, you think, can anyone be this self-complacent? Only he has a breaking point. During a dinner party he absentmindedly voices an honest thought about a vile act that his employer, the host and a crass Fascistic cad, boasts about. T Krleza deceptively starts off with his protagonist penning a banal self-portrait; he is, he tells us, a well-meaning nonentity who has a high tolerance for the vast folly he see around him as he drifts through life, corporate attorney for a manufacturing company. Ho-hum, you think, can anyone be this self-complacent? Only he has a breaking point. During a dinner party he absentmindedly voices an honest thought about a vile act that his employer, the host and a crass Fascistic cad, boasts about. The town turns on him, he is sued for slander, and everything goes downhill. His crime, as is gradually revealed through the two-faced advice from former friends, is voicing in a crowd the thoughts that everyone has on his own, or mentions only in a quiet conversation. But liberated by his act, the hero stands firm against the growing hypocrisy of friends and institutions and follows a centrifugal course beyond the bounds of his former life. Krleza writes beautiful prose about the nature of man, where one gets an ‘outlook on life’ and what one does with it, and the living death of conformity. The deeper the exile into which society casts him, the more profound the lawyer’s reflections on how to live a true life in the morass of the twentieth century. He also drops in shorter or longer monologues or portraits of characters who are not essential to the plot but contribute to the lawyer’s growing understanding of the tribulations outside his own bourgeois, uneventful life. These characters bring in themes from Krleza’s marxist orientation. Some of them are also amusing; there is a comic, almost slapstick aspect to some of his encounters that lead to repeated jailings as vulgar acquaintances feel free to insist on insulting admonitions, and he insists on answering with a gentleman’s slap in the face. ‘we should logically put the question: do we all lack the shame required to safeguard the daily equilibrium of our own dignity…' [from a wonderful character the lawyer meets in jail, who has just described the ludicrous outfitting of young soldiers for duty in WWI, before sending them to the trenches] ’And this is what I think: if it came to a war again, I would not need all those things. I would cut a bit of bacon; I would shelter behind a willow tree, put two or three grenades in my pocket… and I would aim at one of those fellows responsible for being here on our straw mattresses, lying like loaves of bread. This would be my own war strategy.’ ‘Since we are stuck in this confused, chaotic, and unsettled world and have our own outlooks on life, it is easier to sail with a compass, however cheap it may be, than according to the stars, especially when it is cloudy, as it is in our case.'

  5. 5 out of 5

    Tara

    I read this years ago, having picked it up randomly at a small, independent bookstore, and I haven't seen it elsewhere. I re-read it a few months ago, and it was as good as the first time. It's not the most inspirational tale of all time, but if you're feeling incredibly frustrated by human behavior, this is great. The author couldn't help calling it like he saw it, and from what I understand, that didn't make him too popular with society figures who wanted to flatter him in real life either. He I read this years ago, having picked it up randomly at a small, independent bookstore, and I haven't seen it elsewhere. I re-read it a few months ago, and it was as good as the first time. It's not the most inspirational tale of all time, but if you're feeling incredibly frustrated by human behavior, this is great. The author couldn't help calling it like he saw it, and from what I understand, that didn't make him too popular with society figures who wanted to flatter him in real life either. He's gruff, bored, and disgusted with hypocrisy. So I loved it. I wish I could take the narrator around with me and just have him run his mouth in that polite but snarky way. He's the best, dude. Too bad that society is just as silly now as it was eighty years ago. Still, this book is relevant, and I really recommend him. Plus, eastern European writers never seem to get enough attention, so this is a great excuse to find out more about literature from that area of the world.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan

    Perhaps a little on the nose, and a little repetitive in its critique, but some great writing and well worth your time.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Mahak

    In this day and age like I've mentioned to many afore, we need to relearn the true definition of opinions and how everyone has a right to state them. Sadly sometimes the mass-impressions given remain in the hearts of men based on societal perceptions however wayward. The questions I raise however, are worldly ones-not of the plain statements of individuals. a.) Is slander ever justified? b.) Is it moral for people to be crucified based on assumptions or ill-conceived misconceptions founded upon In this day and age like I've mentioned to many afore, we need to relearn the true definition of opinions and how everyone has a right to state them. Sadly sometimes the mass-impressions given remain in the hearts of men based on societal perceptions however wayward. The questions I raise however, are worldly ones-not of the plain statements of individuals. a.) Is slander ever justified? b.) Is it moral for people to be crucified based on assumptions or ill-conceived misconceptions founded upon rumours and lies taking root? c.) If suddenly you were ostracised for having spoken your mind, would you cower or remain true to what you've uttered? Indeed this is what most face when man's Tongue beds Gossip. Honor thyself and thou shall be honoured.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Ivan Hrvoić

    One of my friends loves Krleza, other one hates him. And I, I haven’t read almost any Croatian book for more than 10 years. Why? I don’t know, some highschool nonsense revolt was at beginning which on some non-particular point silently grew simple not-explained avoidance. Week, or two ago first mentioned friend mentioned me that he liked Edge of Reason and I just woke up, like from a dream and said; well, actually why not? I had no idea what a book is about, but one plain thing my friend told me One of my friends loves Krleza, other one hates him. And I, I haven’t read almost any Croatian book for more than 10 years. Why? I don’t know, some highschool nonsense revolt was at beginning which on some non-particular point silently grew simple not-explained avoidance. Week, or two ago first mentioned friend mentioned me that he liked Edge of Reason and I just woke up, like from a dream and said; well, actually why not? I had no idea what a book is about, but one plain thing my friend told me that he feels Krleza was quite angry when he wrote it. Seeing, the first part highly decorated with insults I was amused and confused am I reading diary, one of short stories, novel or what. It turned out to be first-person narrated novel. Since Croatian is my mother-language strong, melodic rhythm can be felt in long line of insults. If someone was speaking this to me, I’d find him as annoying pestilence, but reading those lines and lines of charming insults was quite opposite. I’m not sure is that rhythm felt in translations. Story is about 52 year old lawyer who wakes up behind his mask in masked society during one ‘’high-society’’ dinner and with one opinion said aloud changes course of his life. Rest of the book is about him being slapped by society back and forth because of that opinion. Seems like I’ll never get bored by reading criticism of society and views on world because I liked book. Actually, I liked first part little bit more, at moment one guys starts long monologue on his world view in distant Croatian dialect novel goes bit downhill for me. And I would prefer if it was made somewhat longer, more detailed with more particulars in story, but that’s only me. Easy read, nice pictures, delicious insults, interesting views on society and life means if you get your hands on it, I recommend to read, but hardly can tell that it is one of do-not-miss books.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Laurie

    Loved this book! Caused me to laugh out loud several times. The protagonist's cynicism is beyond the pale. It mirrors some of my own more pessimistic thoughts about humanity but in a, what I found to be, humorous way. One of those novels whose opening line is a classic: "At night, when I hold conversations with myself, I cannot logically justify my constant preoccupation with human folly." The book has several other such quotable lines. To be logical in this world results in being labeled mad. I Loved this book! Caused me to laugh out loud several times. The protagonist's cynicism is beyond the pale. It mirrors some of my own more pessimistic thoughts about humanity but in a, what I found to be, humorous way. One of those novels whose opening line is a classic: "At night, when I hold conversations with myself, I cannot logically justify my constant preoccupation with human folly." The book has several other such quotable lines. To be logical in this world results in being labeled mad. I thought of the Seven Samurai when I read the version of events as told by the townspeople versus the protagonist's depiction. Late at night during a particularly rough period of long mentally challenging work days I was reading this at my kitchen table, having a much needed cocktail, and had to go online feverishly looking for other English language editions of this author's works. Highly recommended.

  10. 5 out of 5

    L

    Krleža at his best: the long, voluptuous sentences, aphorisms about human stupidity, cool,foreign names of characters, and an almost dostoevskian sense of scandal

  11. 5 out of 5

    Derrick Trimble

    A satirical perspetive of injustice plied as one man's prohibited thoughts thrust him into a series of self perpetuating persecutions. Considering ths book was published in 1938, I was surprised to discover the close similarities of today. On the introduction of the character, I was uncertain if I'd like him with his bleak view of the world and the inhabitants therein. But as his story unfolded I saw a man desperate to hold his sense of independence in a world governed by ignorance, pseudo intel A satirical perspetive of injustice plied as one man's prohibited thoughts thrust him into a series of self perpetuating persecutions. Considering ths book was published in 1938, I was surprised to discover the close similarities of today. On the introduction of the character, I was uncertain if I'd like him with his bleak view of the world and the inhabitants therein. But as his story unfolded I saw a man desperate to hold his sense of independence in a world governed by ignorance, pseudo intellectualism, and pettiness. Instead he became to me a bit of an anti-hero for his determination to remain uncontrolled by a biased system regardless the personal cost.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Sunny

    the book is about a rich dude who speaks his mind at a richer and more publically recognised dudes house party about a crime the richer dude committed. its about speaking your mind in the face of all the odds. its about the european angst ting. reminded me of crime and punishment where at one point you completely believe in the case for the plaintiff but then are swayed onto the side of the defendent. good stuff short book. there is also a section at the end which randomly mentions a famous pian the book is about a rich dude who speaks his mind at a richer and more publically recognised dudes house party about a crime the richer dude committed. its about speaking your mind in the face of all the odds. its about the european angst ting. reminded me of crime and punishment where at one point you completely believe in the case for the plaintiff but then are swayed onto the side of the defendent. good stuff short book. there is also a section at the end which randomly mentions a famous pianist who played in the public place incognito ... this was very similar to when classical violinist Joshua Bell appeared incognito on a subway platform in Washington, D.C. one cold winter morning and played his heart out for tips, a few months back; if you havent seen this check out the link and watch it through to the end because one lady out of the hundreds that must have passed him DOES recognise him and the quality of his music. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hnOPu0...

  13. 4 out of 5

    ben

    All of my cynicism, my sarcasm, my superiority complexes, just like, all of the stuff that I feel towards most of my classmates is reflected in this book. I liked it, it's funny, it made me feel better about the world.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Megan

    A philosophically absurdist tale that could use more action and detail, but has a certain timeless resonance with its reflections on being fake versus genuine and honest versus shallow.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Corbin

    An absolutely fantastic novel--engaging, easy to read, and full of important themes and considerations. It has the tone of the existentialist/nihilist writings in other parts of Europe from the early 20th century, and while it engages a lot of philosophical and sociological considerations, it most quickly invites comparisons to Foucault's studies on madness, institutionalization, and criminal discipline. Reading this so soon after finishing ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST prompts other associati An absolutely fantastic novel--engaging, easy to read, and full of important themes and considerations. It has the tone of the existentialist/nihilist writings in other parts of Europe from the early 20th century, and while it engages a lot of philosophical and sociological considerations, it most quickly invites comparisons to Foucault's studies on madness, institutionalization, and criminal discipline. Reading this so soon after finishing ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST prompts other associations, but this novel stands well on its own. I offer a strong recommendation to read this book.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    A respected lawyer who spends most of his life abiding by social decorum reaches a breaking point at a dinner party when the host boasts of killing 4 thieves who intended to rob him of wine. Our protagonist dares to utter his disapproval of the host's criminal behavior and spends the rest of the book on trial for speaking from his consciousness rather than suppressing such opinions as is expected in polite company and dealing with the aftermath of his honesty and moral convictions. I liked the no A respected lawyer who spends most of his life abiding by social decorum reaches a breaking point at a dinner party when the host boasts of killing 4 thieves who intended to rob him of wine. Our protagonist dares to utter his disapproval of the host's criminal behavior and spends the rest of the book on trial for speaking from his consciousness rather than suppressing such opinions as is expected in polite company and dealing with the aftermath of his honesty and moral convictions. I liked the novel and chuckled at various points, but found the last third of the book less captivating.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    I picked up this book at the local bookstore. It was originally written in Croatian. it follows a man who is ostracized from society (Croatia 1930's). It is interesting that society elements/behaviors are essentially unchanged while society markers are different. Humans are the same, yesterday and today. It's kinda depressing. I'm not a fan of the main character, I don't have sympathy for him. however, the book is educational about human behavior.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Steven Felicelli

    a Celine-like indictment of humanity

  19. 4 out of 5

    Luka Knezović

    Fantastic literature! 👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼

  20. 5 out of 5

    Mr Greg

    We only get the stars because I'm under the impression that the translation is less than complete. Unfortunate as I found this to be a wonderful philosophical piece on perception, delusion, and humanity in general. Maybe one day i learn Croatian and read this as it was meant to be read. Doubt it though

  21. 5 out of 5

    C. Patrick G. Erker

    I went into the book expecting a tale of conformity, and such a tale I got. But I didn't expect also to get such a resounding condemnation of the state and endorsement of the individual (especially coming from this author, who the introduction to the book introduces as a "dedicated marxist"). I am a fan of the narrative style. The author tells the tale of his downfall at the hands of the system through ten fast-moving chapters. Things seem to start off ok, with a well-educated lawyer in Zagreb in I went into the book expecting a tale of conformity, and such a tale I got. But I didn't expect also to get such a resounding condemnation of the state and endorsement of the individual (especially coming from this author, who the introduction to the book introduces as a "dedicated marxist"). I am a fan of the narrative style. The author tells the tale of his downfall at the hands of the system through ten fast-moving chapters. Things seem to start off ok, with a well-educated lawyer in Zagreb in Yugoslavia, living a fairly comfortable life. But things quickly take a turn for the worse, when that lawyer makes the mistake of calling out the behavior of Domacinski - celebrated by polite society as a builder, a leader, a philanthropist, etc. - two decades before in the chaos of the WWI era. It gets worse and worse: his wife leaves him (she was sleeping with an artist all along, it turns out); his friends (to the extent he had any) abandon him; his temper repeatedly gets the best of him in coffee shops and holy places; he ends up in a series of court appearances and stints in jail. The beauty of the book is in the principled individuality of flawed characters: our lawyer, his lover, the prostitute Jadviga Jesenska; his cell-mate Valent Polenta. Krleza's protagonist starts as a classic top-hatted man, "homo cylindriacus," leader in his field, respected by the world, mostly for his willingness to follow society's demands for blind conformity. He calls out a wrong, and pays for it dearly. And yet while he ends the story a jailed, friendless castaway perhaps hoping for his lover's end, at least his dignity remains intact.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Angie Reisetter

    A satire or two has come out in recent years that didn't make much sense at all to me, and On the Edge is a better book than other satires I've read recently. This guy has the nerve to say something he's really thinking: he rightly criticizes a man who is bragging about having shot 4 would-be burglars as they fled. So the protagonist started with my sympathy. And everything that happens to him after that is surreal but somewhat plausible, as social commentary. It works. But the main character is A satire or two has come out in recent years that didn't make much sense at all to me, and On the Edge is a better book than other satires I've read recently. This guy has the nerve to say something he's really thinking: he rightly criticizes a man who is bragging about having shot 4 would-be burglars as they fled. So the protagonist started with my sympathy. And everything that happens to him after that is surreal but somewhat plausible, as social commentary. It works. But the main character is always up and slapping people when they say things he finds ridiculous. This also works as part of the satire -- think of how many violent acts we would commit if we slapped all those saying something stupid and indefensible! But it happened so much that the man became a charicature of himself, no less ridiculous than those around him. So again, it works as a better satire and better social commentary than others I've seen. But it's not much more than that. It doesn't really work to get my ire up or make me want to make changes, since all humans in the story are ridiculous and unrelate-able. It was not an emotional read, but without doubt an interesting one.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Mirko Bozic

    A bit under the radar for quite some time (Krleža's trilogy Glembajevi and novels like Povratak FIlipa Latinovića get much more attention), once you discover it, it changes your perspective of Krleža's work. Or at least that's what was the case with me and it's safe to say that of all his works, this one is most probably the most relevant one for the age we live in. His main character is up there on the same level (and a similar situation) like the characters of many socially critical novels: Gr A bit under the radar for quite some time (Krleža's trilogy Glembajevi and novels like Povratak FIlipa Latinovića get much more attention), once you discover it, it changes your perspective of Krleža's work. Or at least that's what was the case with me and it's safe to say that of all his works, this one is most probably the most relevant one for the age we live in. His main character is up there on the same level (and a similar situation) like the characters of many socially critical novels: Gregor Samsa, Josef K, Mersault etc. He's a man accused for slander by the ones in power and left to rot away in a small prison cell, after which his whole life falls apart, from his own family onward. There's no redemption or a happy ending for the good guys, might be the moral of the book. He doesn't try to mask it or paint it pretty. We're all going down into the gutters and there's no escaping it. Ocassionally, the reader feels a sadistic pleasure over the cruelty that the leading character endures purely for speaking his mind. This small but precious book should be mandatory in schools, to show the students what their brains are for and how to use them accordingly.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Goran Markov

    "On the edge of reason" A great study of the, so called, advanced or elite society. Krleža masterfully colors the differences between acceptance and refusal, between success and bottom, as well as the state of mind of "intellectuals" and other public figures. It tells a story of a successful man, who becomes an outcast after publicly speaking his own mind and eventually starts questioning his own sanity after losing ties with his previous life as the consequence of his directness. Although, at tim "On the edge of reason" A great study of the, so called, advanced or elite society. Krleža masterfully colors the differences between acceptance and refusal, between success and bottom, as well as the state of mind of "intellectuals" and other public figures. It tells a story of a successful man, who becomes an outcast after publicly speaking his own mind and eventually starts questioning his own sanity after losing ties with his previous life as the consequence of his directness. Although, at times, Krleža goes into long monologues (which is one of his "writing traits"), this book is very interesting and easy to read. Having been written in 1938., and having been the study of the society of the time period, it is incredible to see that nothing's actually changed in 75 years since the book was first published. The "elite" depicted in the book is still the same. The rules, or the lack of them, are still the same. You, either, shut up and behave as you're expected to behave, or speak your mind and face the consequences.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Toby Newton

    "Warm flesh wrapped up in cloth and isolated from nature is set up on its hind legs in church, in the courtroom, on the stage, in the pulpit, in the chair, in pissoirs, in inns, in barracks." That sentence will either do it for you - fantastically well - or it won't. If it doesn't, you won't get much (anything) from this book. Except, perhaps, fury. If it does, On the Edge of Reason will take pride of place amongst your top ten (fifteen, twenty, whaddever) of all time ... "The wretched human fles "Warm flesh wrapped up in cloth and isolated from nature is set up on its hind legs in church, in the courtroom, on the stage, in the pulpit, in the chair, in pissoirs, in inns, in barracks." That sentence will either do it for you - fantastically well - or it won't. If it doesn't, you won't get much (anything) from this book. Except, perhaps, fury. If it does, On the Edge of Reason will take pride of place amongst your top ten (fifteen, twenty, whaddever) of all time ... "The wretched human flesh is completely lost in the endless stream of unsolved problems; it cannot find a way out of the confusion and, separated into individuals, it is exclusively aware of its own flesh, forgetting the similar fleshiness of its fleshy neighbour. And so, from fear and foolishness, each bites the other's throat, turned into animals by fright and terrified in face of the dark." Superb.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Mark Lisac

    A heroic blend of humour, philosophy, social criticism, despair and hope. The story sees a successful man in a somewhat warped and provincial society accidentally let out a few words based on integrity rather than on getting along with the crowd. He then pays a steep price for sticking with his accidental choice and building on it rather than recanting. It's a dangerous road: how can any lone person know if he's being moral or being mad? The blend of directness and a sort of rude eloquence seems A heroic blend of humour, philosophy, social criticism, despair and hope. The story sees a successful man in a somewhat warped and provincial society accidentally let out a few words based on integrity rather than on getting along with the crowd. He then pays a steep price for sticking with his accidental choice and building on it rather than recanting. It's a dangerous road: how can any lone person know if he's being moral or being mad? The blend of directness and a sort of rude eloquence seems particularly European. It contrasts sharply with North American books that seem written in the thousands by committees of editors for generic reading markets. The book feels surprisingly contemporary despite being published nearly 80 years ago. I suppose that's one sign of a classic.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Ivan Pašalić

    Having already read some of his works, I had already gotten to know Krelža's brilliance, but this book made me admire him even more. His style and his brilliant commentaries and critique of the society and his long narratives (main character's thoughts), especially about worldviews made "Na rubu pameti" one of my favorite books. Some of the paragraphs were so great that I had to reread them several times before continuing on with the book. It was a shame I had to spread reading over several week Having already read some of his works, I had already gotten to know Krelža's brilliance, but this book made me admire him even more. His style and his brilliant commentaries and critique of the society and his long narratives (main character's thoughts), especially about worldviews made "Na rubu pameti" one of my favorite books. Some of the paragraphs were so great that I had to reread them several times before continuing on with the book. It was a shame I had to spread reading over several weeks because of my obligations, I will reread it soon, in a shorter time period.

  28. 5 out of 5

    huoriel

    Croatian the trial-like existentialism at its best. Scattered narration with philosophical essays containing not so subtle political and social views - explaining why it took 16 years since the first edition for the second one to be published. Don't know what the translations are like, but the original signature 'Krleža's sentences' and the discourse in which it's kind of hard to discern whether the protagonist is really a fair, smart outcast or if he (also) has a crazy side to him make it a joy Croatian the trial-like existentialism at its best. Scattered narration with philosophical essays containing not so subtle political and social views - explaining why it took 16 years since the first edition for the second one to be published. Don't know what the translations are like, but the original signature 'Krleža's sentences' and the discourse in which it's kind of hard to discern whether the protagonist is really a fair, smart outcast or if he (also) has a crazy side to him make it a joy to read.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Nancy M. Hayes

    "... one of the great European novels of the first half of the twentieth Century" - Susan Sontag. I loved the tone of this story, a political satire, embedded in the milieu of a WW1 totalitarian state, when a respected middle aged lawyer makes the mistake of blurting out his true thoughts at a dinner party. The setting is Zagreb, Croatia. The 170 page novel helped me understand what freedom means to people living there now.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Graeme Purves

    In pre-War Zagreb, polite society is scandalised when the protagonist casually describes a leading businessman and public figure of being a morally insane bandit and murderer. This indiscretion leads to him being disowned by his wife, rebuked or shunned by former associates, convicted of slander and then imprisoned. However, aspects of his narrative leave room for doubt as to how far we can rely upon its accuracy.

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