Though I consider myself a reasonably intelligent individual, I felt a bit at a loss when someone handed me a copy of Half-Truths and One-and-a-Half Truths: Selected Aphorisms by Karl Kraus as Edited and Translated by Harry Zohn. First, I had never heard of the author and satirist before. Second, I had no clue what an aphorism was – I had to consult my trusted and cherished dictionary.
The introduction that begins this edition provides an insightful overview of the author’s life and times from the late 1800’s up until WWII. It was so interesting, in fact, that it left me wanting to know even more about the man and his work. As for that work, his aphorisms are tidbits of wordplay and biting satire, containing language cleverly manipulated into short sayings that are often humorous, bold, or brash while simultaneously being thought-provoking and often provocative. I found myself reading many of them for a second, third, and fourth time in order to wring every drip of wisdom and meaning from them. This work of Karl Kraus is a wonderful find; it comes highly recommended for any reader or writer who has an abiding love of language and a sharp wit.