5 September 08 | Chad W. Post

I first heard of Per Hojholt in 2004, when, shortly after he died, the Literary Saloon posted a short piece about his obituary and about Auricula:

Of particular interest: his recent novel, Auricula (not translated into English — yet). As we understand it, the premise of the book is that time very briefly came to a stop 7 September 1915, which led to the birth of a great many ears (yes, ears) which floated around and got involved in especially the arts of the time — Joyce ! Dada ! Kafka ! Duchamp !

I still think this sounds like a really interesting. Queneau-esque sort of book, and hopefully it will make its way into English at some point in the near future.

In addition to this strange, philosophical novel, Hojholt wrote a number of books of poetry, and now, thanks to CALQUE some of these poems will finally be published in English:

Per Højholt (1928-2004) was one of Denmark’s most influential poets, a philosophical modern master whose work throughout is shaped by playful, often equilibristic linguistics and a simultaneous and astonishing ability to express highly philosophical issues in a colloquial style employing ironical humour as one of its foremost instruments. [. . .] The so-called Praksis series ran to twelve small volumes published from 1977 through 1996 and provided a laboratory framework for much of the poetic oeuvre. Praksis, 8: Album, tumult (1989) contains 59 short prose pieces, the majority extending no more than half a dozen lines or so, all archetypal Højholt. CALQUE 5 brings an impromptu selection of fifteen of these pieces. The following is a taste of what is to come. The recipient of numerous major literary awards (including the Danish Arts Foundation’s lifetime grant), shortlisted for the Nordic Council’s Literature Prize in 2003, Højholt appears here for what may be the first time in English.

The selections on the blog are pretty fantastic. My personal favorite is this one:

39. Minor Kafka idyll. The more I spoke to him the larger his head became. Several times I tried falling silent to encourage him to empty himself, but he challenged me each time with new questions demanding detailed replies, and thereby against my will, little by little, I caused his head to take on a quite monstrous proportion. When later we accompanied each other along the street I noticed to my surprise that it was me people were staring at, not him, and when we took leave of each other and I remained standing a moment to watch him manoeuvre his great, egg-shaped head down through the pedestrian street, it was not him, but me they applauded.


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