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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 subconcious, or as Kubin himself called it, 'a sort of Baedeker for those lands which are half known to us'. Written in 1908, and more or less half way between Meyrink and Kafka, it was greeted with wi 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 subconcious, or as Kubin himself called it, 'a sort of Baedeker for those lands which are half known to us'. 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. Franz Marc called it a magnificent reckoning with the 19th century and Kandinsky said it was almost a vision of evil, while Lyonel Feininger wrote to Kubin. 'I live much in Pearl, you must have written it and drawn it for me'.


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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 subconcious, or as Kubin himself called it, 'a sort of Baedeker for those lands which are half known to us'. Written in 1908, and more or less half way between Meyrink and Kafka, it was greeted with wi 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 subconcious, or as Kubin himself called it, 'a sort of Baedeker for those lands which are half known to us'. 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. Franz Marc called it a magnificent reckoning with the 19th century and Kandinsky said it was almost a vision of evil, while Lyonel Feininger wrote to Kubin. 'I live much in Pearl, you must have written it and drawn it for me'.

30 review for The Other Side

  1. 5 out of 5

    Vit Babenco

    The Other Side is a gloomily satirical novel showing some fine rudiments of absurdism and it is also a sort of mystical dystopia. E.T.A. Hoffmann and Gustav Meyrink are obvious influences on Alfred Kubin’s juicy style and the book is written in the very picturesque and highly imaginative manner. We are all wanderers, all of us without exception. It has been so as long as there have been people, and so it will remain. From the earliest nomads to the most modern tourist, from rape and pilla The Other Side is a gloomily satirical novel showing some fine rudiments of absurdism and it is also a sort of mystical dystopia. E.T.A. Hoffmann and Gustav Meyrink are obvious influences on Alfred Kubin’s juicy style and the book is written in the very picturesque and highly imaginative manner. We are all wanderers, all of us without exception. It has been so as long as there have been people, and so it will remain. From the earliest nomads to the most modern tourist, from rape and pillage to recent journeys of exploration, however much the motives may change, the wandering remains. Foot, horseback, wheel, steam, electricity, petrol and anything else that will come – the means of locomotion is unimportant, the wandering remains. Whether I go down to the inn or all round the world, I am a wanderer, and with me all animals, here, there, everywhere. And the earth leads by example. It is in the blood, a law of nature. However tired you may be, you feel the compulsion to keep going, on and on… We only enjoy real peace when our wandering is at an end. And we are all secretly looking forward to that, only we refuse to admit it to ourselves. Many don’t even know it. There are some who have already travelled far and want to stop wandering, or they are ill and bed-ridden and cannot wander, yet they still journey on in their mind, in their imagination, often travelling far, far… but to stand still, no, that’s impossible. What worlds do we create in our dreams when we sleep? The Other Side is a gnostic tale – the Dream Realm of this dark parable is a creation of the insane demiurge who doesn’t even know the difference between good and evil. Here fantasies were simply reality. The incredible thing was the way the same illusion would appear in several minds at once. The people talked themselves into believing the things they imagined. I don’t know if Franz Kafka read The Other Side or not, but at times some motifs of Amerika , The Castle and even The Trial seem to echo this novel. ‘Kant, that’s the big mistake! Ha! You can’t sail round the thing-in-itself just like that. The world is above all an ethical problem and no one’s going to persuade me otherwise. Space courts time, you see; and the point of union, the present, is death, or something else you could just as well posit in its place – the deity, if you like. And right in the middle, the great miracle of the incarnation: the object. Which is nothing but the exterior of the subject. Those, my dear sir, are fundamental propositions. There you have my whole theory.’ The pictures of the apocalypse in the Dream Realm are especially grotesque and tenebrously vivid. Every man wishes to be a creator but some creations of mankind are hideously monstrous.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Mariel

    I don't know if I really liked this or not. It pretty much bored me to the backs of my eyeballs and then showed me what those dangly nerves looked like in my pasty white hand. I started reading The Other Side weeks ago. Forcing myself to finish reading it today pretty much made me want to cry in a violent revolt. Mariel people rise up against their oppressors! We mental people come from all corners of this wide mental land in peace. Please, it shouldn't be this hard. That's what the spokesperson I don't know if I really liked this or not. It pretty much bored me to the backs of my eyeballs and then showed me what those dangly nerves looked like in my pasty white hand. I started reading The Other Side weeks ago. Forcing myself to finish reading it today pretty much made me want to cry in a violent revolt. Mariel people rise up against their oppressors! We mental people come from all corners of this wide mental land in peace. Please, it shouldn't be this hard. That's what the spokesperson said but they killed the messenger. "They" was some big shadowy figure. You know how "They" always is in these suffocating scenarios. Pardon me, I haven't been sleeping much at all and I am coming from invisible germs on sweaty palms and stomach numbing nerves. The Other Side didn't fucking help one little bit. The doctor didn't say to read this so it's not really his fault. The nurse was a fucking bitch, though, and I'm sure she would have made some mouth noise I could have construed as an invader from the evil mental lands across the gray mass seas. There's a letter delivered across bureaucratic lines of remember when we were lads in framed portraits destined to sit on some doily covered dresser to remind the housekeeper that someone once swaddled us in doily-like baby clothes? Remember when the administration head counted our just on time mustachioed and arpeggios? Come on, it's me! Patera! So I've got this "Dream land" that is pretty much my own country and shit. You can come live here. Mariel went into a lawyer coma over this reading of the will style part and didn't wake up until after the waaaaay more boring than the extensive train travel part of Christopher Priest's The Prestige (that was kind of interesting in the way of a guy who could make a home out of not being home, and falling love with moving tracks off the rails of those obstructed by Ben Franklin's kite sky writing). If I don't remember what the hell happened at any time in my life between this part of the book and today it isn't my fault. I lost it with the missing luggage. If I was one of the kids who fucked up on the first hour of my visit to Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory I might feel like this. The Dream Land is a paper cut kind of festering. Shit, if they want shitty neighbors I can give them shitty neighbors. So the old lady who would cross the street to avoid the pointing finger lady from The Princess Bride (y'know, the one who calls Princess Buttercup on her unfaithfulness) complains about noises at uncomfortable hours of the day. I used to live on a floor above the "hospice apartment". They are dying of cancer and you still don't have a whirring noise at three a.m. It still sucks when they try to come inside. Where's the community, other than some grumbling about coughs not other worldly people stuff? Patera hovers over with the promise of his invitation. Come on, I invited you, man! Money won't protect you. You know that other land place where missing socks go? That's where Clay Davis' empty pockets turn up. My money too. The artist with his burned out bulb of worldly and dreamy wonder is returned to sender. Did you forget to put on the address? The Dream Land was like that, to me. Like not going anywhere. The bitchy nurse says some shit now about how that was the point, Europe after WWI, blah blah blah. Haven't you done enough for today? Crush my soul with your regulation shoe later. Patera's head floats higher and higher. It is emptier than a kite from the dullest kid at the candy factory and the skies are black of currents. I don't understand making him the great and powerful Oz. Wife, gone. People, never there. Artist, abandoned. Dreams... I don't even know if I'm asleep. I didn't care about Patera at all. Moving there at his behest made no kind of gut sense to me. The stethoscope has got nothing. I took a look at what other reviews said. Blah blah blah Jung and the collective subconscious. I don't want to think too hard to come up with this means this or this means that. You'll make me cry, I swear. I didn't care. That's what happened. Blah blah blah Kubin was a pessimist and tortured small animals in his youth (I thought that was a serial killer sign but what do I know?). Blah blah blah he was an artist and The Other Side was his only novel. This is what I liked about The Other Side: (Oh yeah, i forgot to say I read this translated and not in the original German. The German may be perfect for all I know.) I liked the written descriptions of what would have been drawings. There are illustrations in the book but I liked the descriptions better than the drawings. I could feel how the artist would sniff like a blood hound to run away from the blood rushing in the ears that don't pick up mutual cries. He could presmell what they might smell like in his paranoia. I didn't like being told that they all belonged together in spite of that. Okay, maybe I liked the drawings better because that was a total lie. Another voice from my peanut gallery: I liked how one man would give a look like a man who had fallen off a cliff. I could see that. I am thinking a lot these days about how one would write visuals that walk the tight rope of truth without ruining it by over defining it. Oh yeah, that's what The Other Side does too much with this Patera and Dream Land fixation. Better to throw shit at the wall and get your responses out of it. "Hey, bitchy neighbor chick. Come here often?" and discuss how the brown turd represents how much the world at large sucks. The wall says you can't leave. The shape of the turd is like one of those clouds that looks like a bunny rabbit if you look at it the right way. I don't know. I got bored of trying too hard to look that hard. Other than the way the artist would describe things as if he could paint them it was too much like trying to slap some name on it. Or I just don't feel that good and don't really WANT to analyse this that much. I think I already feel too much that bad stuff that happens is a collective will, anyway. The artist might have seen the omens in the ABC spagettios but did they spell the same in the other most important meal of the day? That bad things that happen is a deliberate act to silence another voice, yeah. Communities suck. Villagers abuse their dinner forks. If I saw it in a dream that didn't mean I could have stopped it from happening. I'm too late to this gallery to predict karma. I don't want to hear tongues click. I have a lizard tongue, apparently. It was probably from when I made dead lizards dance as a four year old (my biographer says so). Kubin says he'll see me on the other side, then. Noooo, but you were soul boring! Click, click, click. That's the bright flash lights of hell diagnosing danger, danger, danger. Am I just naive in that art and personal responses and shit? Intent is art and then there's where you run with it. Something about this collective unconscious in a burned to the ground village made me feel so tired.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Mir

    A man in his thirties, married, an artist, receives a strange offer: an invitation from a former school friend who has become miraculously wealthy to emigrate to the far-off city he has purchased and now rules. A job is promised, interim funding provided. I'm pretty sure this was an allegory about... something. Religion? Human weakness? The editor suggests it is a satire of Utopianism. The Dreamland is pretty nightmarish. Literally, not just hyperbolically. The prose isn't brilliant but Kubin is ex A man in his thirties, married, an artist, receives a strange offer: an invitation from a former school friend who has become miraculously wealthy to emigrate to the far-off city he has purchased and now rules. A job is promised, interim funding provided. I'm pretty sure this was an allegory about... something. Religion? Human weakness? The editor suggests it is a satire of Utopianism. The Dreamland is pretty nightmarish. Literally, not just hyperbolically. The prose isn't brilliant but Kubin is excellent at imagery. If you're familiar with his art you'll be easily able to envision the scenes in this book. I think it would have been better at a somewhat shorter length; the hideous events palled by repetition. Here is a sample of the text (apologies for the photo quality):

  4. 5 out of 5

    Susan Budd

    Imagine sniffing a quart of milk, thinking it smells kind of funky, and then downing the whole thing anyway. That was me reading Alfred Kubin’s The Other Side. This is not a well-told tale, but I was willing to overlook that because I thought it would be worth reading for the dream imagery alone. Boy was I wrong. The first half of the book was not entirely without merit. Kubin does create a dream atmosphere. A place of perpetual twilight, drab colors, sudden turns of fortune at which no one bats Imagine sniffing a quart of milk, thinking it smells kind of funky, and then downing the whole thing anyway. That was me reading Alfred Kubin’s The Other Side. This is not a well-told tale, but I was willing to overlook that because I thought it would be worth reading for the dream imagery alone. Boy was I wrong. The first half of the book was not entirely without merit. Kubin does create a dream atmosphere. A place of perpetual twilight, drab colors, sudden turns of fortune at which no one bats an eye. Dreamland is a place where people make up their minds without any real deliberation. Where people live in the present. Where a man’s wife can die in the morning and by afternoon he barely remembers that she existed. There are nightmare scenes involving a subterranean labyrinth. Clocks with legs that crawl around like tortoises. Being naked in public. Being chased. Trying to run on slimy ground. Even a spectral horse, a literal nightmare. Yet this novel is not really about the dream world because dreams aren’t only horrid. Dreams can also be pleasant. They can be neutral. Nightmares are just one type of dream. Kubin’s Dreamland is actually a nightmare land that later becomes Hell. The disproportionately long chapter titled “Hell” has imagery so ugly that I will not befoul my review by describing it. It’s clear that Kubin wanted to shock rather than to truly explore the world we inhabit in our dreams. I will now need to read something tonic to counteract the nausea.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Nancy Oakes

    Imagine this: one very ordinary day, you're sitting at home and suddenly a man appears at your door with a proposal that, should you accept, will change your life completely. That's exactly how this very disturbing novel begins. How it ends I won't say, but imagine any dream you've ever had that starts out being sort of quirky and then rapidly devolves into a nightmare from which you struggle to awaken, and that describes this novel in a nutshell. Sort of. I will tell you that this book disturbe Imagine this: one very ordinary day, you're sitting at home and suddenly a man appears at your door with a proposal that, should you accept, will change your life completely. That's exactly how this very disturbing novel begins. How it ends I won't say, but imagine any dream you've ever had that starts out being sort of quirky and then rapidly devolves into a nightmare from which you struggle to awaken, and that describes this novel in a nutshell. Sort of. I will tell you that this book disturbed me to my core, and that rarely happens. I don't know if anyone's noticed (she says in a tongue-in-cheek sort of way), but I tend to be a reader of strange novels, and this one is out there. It is so very different, so far out of the realm of normal; it is the very stuff I crave and go out of my way to look for. When I find something out of the ordinary like The Other Side, I tend to get sucked in completely and have trouble getting out until the very last page. I wasn't too far in before the Moleskine notebook and the pens came out; two notebooks later it was over. The first time through this novel I was shaken, my nerves were working overtime, and I couldn't think straight for a while after having finished it. Being inside Kubin's head is a dangerous and very scary place to find oneself, even if it's only for the duration of the book. much, much more at my reading journal: http://www.oddlyweirdfiction.com/2017...

  6. 4 out of 5

    Yórgos St.

    Absurd, grotesque and macabre, funny and utterly surreal, nightmarish, Kafkaesque before Kafka. The Other Side is the neglected masterpiece of symbolism and decadent literature and Alfred Kubin was the epitome of the Artist. The themes of the book are many and universal but sometimes the symbolism is hard to pin down. Sometimes I thought that I was reading a satire on capitalism or a study on ethics. Other times I had this strange idea that I had before me a visionary text proclaiming WWI. I kep Absurd, grotesque and macabre, funny and utterly surreal, nightmarish, Kafkaesque before Kafka. The Other Side is the neglected masterpiece of symbolism and decadent literature and Alfred Kubin was the epitome of the Artist. The themes of the book are many and universal but sometimes the symbolism is hard to pin down. Sometimes I thought that I was reading a satire on capitalism or a study on ethics. Other times I had this strange idea that I had before me a visionary text proclaiming WWI. I kept thinking that this book is a catalogue of Man's follies. But most of the times Kubin seems to be absorbed in the duality of things. Life/death, God/Devil etc. And I think that this is the mainframe of the book. Also, the similarities with Kafka's work and particularly with The Tower are more than many. We know that Kafka knew Kubin (I understand that Kubin was a pretty successful artist in his time) but we don't know if he ever read his book. I am pretty sure that he did although he doesn't mention it anywhere. On the other hand Kafka mentions Kubin several times. So, if you like Kafka's work (one of my favorite writers) or symbolism or even fantasy (yes! this is also fantasy done right) then this book is a must read. It is a strange, scary, surreal, macabre masterpiece by a visionary true Artist.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Ctgt

    Surrealistic nightmare? Satire on capitalism? Study of the subconscious mind? Damned if I know. A man receives a "summons" "Claus Patera, Absolute Lord of the Dream Kingdom, charges me as his agent to present you with an invitation to come and live in his country Patera, a former classmate came into a vast sum of money while in Asia and has created a walled city/kingdom over which he exerts full control. He has even gone so far as to move buildings from throughout the world into his new kingdom, They Surrealistic nightmare? Satire on capitalism? Study of the subconscious mind? Damned if I know. A man receives a "summons" "Claus Patera, Absolute Lord of the Dream Kingdom, charges me as his agent to present you with an invitation to come and live in his country Patera, a former classmate came into a vast sum of money while in Asia and has created a walled city/kingdom over which he exerts full control. He has even gone so far as to move buildings from throughout the world into his new kingdom, They are all ancient structures; many, indeed, are in ruins and would be worthless in anyone else's eyes, but others are massive and well preserved. Formerly they were scattered all over Europe. Our protagonist(?), and his wife travel by rail to the Dream Kingdom. The next few chapters are fairly mundane and Kubin briefly explores the class structure, economics and religion of this newly formed kingdom before we gradually slide down the slippery slope. Things in the kingdom seem just a bit off and in fact his wife is never comfortable or happy once they arrive. As discoveries are made and things start to deteriorate, a foil to Patera appears in the form of an American, Hercules Bell who begins to accelerate the collapse of the kingdom. Some vivid passages; A dream sequence, An elderly fellow with an abnormally big torso and short legs approached me; he was naked except for a pair of greasy duck workman's trousers. He had two long vertical rows of nipples, I counted eighteen. With a snort, he inflated his lungs, filling first the right and then the left side of his chest, and then with his fingers on the eighteen nipples played the most beautiful harmonica pieces. as the kingdom deteriorates; the most valuable objects had clearly lost the will to live. A fine pattern of cracks appeared in the precious vases and porcelains. The splendid paintings developed black spots, which rapidly spread over the entire surface. Engravings became porous and fell to pieces. The speed with which so many well-preserved and carefully repaired household furnishings turned into piles of rubbish was hardly credible. Now he grew boundlessly, he dug up a volcano from which still hung, snail-shaped and twisted, a granite intestine torn from the entrails of the earth. He put this gigantic instrument to his lips-it roared so that the universe shook. The city had long since disappeared beneath his feet. He stood there upright, his torso reaching the clouds; his flesh was as if made of hills. This won't be for everyone but if you like weird fiction...Kafka....Peake, I would say give this a shot. It's definitely one of those books I will need to read again.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Nate D

    Paired with the piercing brilliance of another novel of the forces of dreams that I happened to read nearly at the same time, The Lathe of Heaven, this is all murk and decay and irrational forces, the dream-unleashed id of a century that would, just a few years later, reveal first the bloodiest war in world history, then another even more cataclysmic, almost immediately after. Not that Lathe doesn't have its sense of entropy too, but an impressively sustained portion of this one seems given over Paired with the piercing brilliance of another novel of the forces of dreams that I happened to read nearly at the same time, The Lathe of Heaven, this is all murk and decay and irrational forces, the dream-unleashed id of a century that would, just a few years later, reveal first the bloodiest war in world history, then another even more cataclysmic, almost immediately after. Not that Lathe doesn't have its sense of entropy too, but an impressively sustained portion of this one seems given over entirely to the horrors of entropy. There's a lot of uncertainty about what is going on here, and what to make of it, all of it submerged in kind of slow churning torpor (translation issues? I actually have the older 1969 Penguin Classics, not the new Dedalus), but nonetheless a horror and intensity comes through that's hard to put out of mind. Interestingly, in contrast to possible interpretations of LeGuin, Kubin seems to suggest that collective thought tends only towards destruction, that the mass effect of humanity is only for ill. As I said, it seems like the 20th century was about to bear out this perspective quite readily. Kubin, born in 1877, struggled with family and self without clear direction for some years before settling into art school in being gripped by grimly fantastic visions for a sustained period of productivity around the turn of the century. This eventually moderated itself into a 50-year career in painting and illustration, but those earliest, rougher works are his most urgent, some of the most bleakly memorable of the entire Symbolist milieu. The Other Side was written in 1907, when, at the age of 30, he found himself unable (the blurb says) to draw for three straight months. And so, this fitting literary companion (Kubin's only novel) to his early drawings came into being.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Eadweard

    My 950th rating here (Apparently Kafka read it and enjoyed it.) Alfred Kubin's atmospheric book is precisely what I expected it to be just from looking at his works. It's his art morphed into words, it emanates the same atmosphere, the same grotesqueness. Don't expect much out of it, just read it for what it is and enjoy his descriptions of the bizarre Dream Realm. If only more artists would use writing to express themselves, to convey their art through words, what I would give to read something w My 950th rating here (Apparently Kafka read it and enjoyed it.) Alfred Kubin's atmospheric book is precisely what I expected it to be just from looking at his works. It's his art morphed into words, it emanates the same atmosphere, the same grotesqueness. Don't expect much out of it, just read it for what it is and enjoy his descriptions of the bizarre Dream Realm. If only more artists would use writing to express themselves, to convey their art through words, what I would give to read something written by Gustave Moraeu, Viktor Vasnetsov, Jean Delville, Franz von Stuck, Ilya Repin, Odilon Redon and others.

  10. 4 out of 5

    S̶e̶a̶n̶

    Whoa, that is some ending. Up until the phantasmagoric finale the tone of Kubin's prose (albeit translated) felt a bit flat to me, considering he was describing something called the Dream Realm. But this type of telling actually enhances the doomed atmosphere that characterizes the latter part of the book, allowing its horrific scenes to stand out in stark terms. As others have noted this can be read in a myriad of ways, and seems to rise above the milieu of its time, despite what could be deeme Whoa, that is some ending. Up until the phantasmagoric finale the tone of Kubin's prose (albeit translated) felt a bit flat to me, considering he was describing something called the Dream Realm. But this type of telling actually enhances the doomed atmosphere that characterizes the latter part of the book, allowing its horrific scenes to stand out in stark terms. As others have noted this can be read in a myriad of ways, and seems to rise above the milieu of its time, despite what could be deemed its obvious fin de siècle concerns.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Marjan

    This must be the most weird and puzzling book I have ever read. Forget Kafka, go for Kubin, for it has much richer inner world and somewhat mystic experience of which there is hardly anything to say beyond true amazement. On the surface this is a story about a person who gets an invitation from his old school friend Patera to join him in his newly founded Dream Country. Patera build Dream Country after he inherited an immense wealth in a series of fortunate events. The narrator decides to move th This must be the most weird and puzzling book I have ever read. Forget Kafka, go for Kubin, for it has much richer inner world and somewhat mystic experience of which there is hardly anything to say beyond true amazement. On the surface this is a story about a person who gets an invitation from his old school friend Patera to join him in his newly founded Dream Country. Patera build Dream Country after he inherited an immense wealth in a series of fortunate events. The narrator decides to move there in the utmost secrecy (taking with him only his wife) and from the moment they arrive they are bewildered by the uncanny nature of the Dream Country. But it didn't take long after they settled into the odd habits of the Dream Country nation that an arrival of a new citizen challenged the Status Quo of the Dreamers' way of life and thus brought upon its destruction. So much for the storyline (spoilers free...). With its visions and queerness the story seems to be a metaphor for something else. I think I am on a good track to understand it on a much deeper level, but I need to read some supporting materials first. The downfall of the Dream Country is so pictorially rich with its nightmarish scenes that one cannot but think about Jung, Freud (before they even came well into the scene), the collective unconsciousness and psychedelic trips gone really really bad. Was that the source of Kubin's imagination? Or is it deliberately put forward to introduce us to concepts from the deep beyond? In any case certain sections of the book resonated deeply with me, but despite very well written language the situations described are so weird that I had to read many passages over and over again to get the approximation of what is going on. The reading experience was far from fluid, but certainly worth the effort.

  12. 4 out of 5

    J.M. Hushour

    "Typical of this stage was a love of half-withered flowers." I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say that this novel is better than anything Kafka wrote. That's risky as hell, but I don't care because it is way better. In fact, written in 1908, it's almost as if Kafka's entire career was trying to match up with this, Kubin's literary pinnacle. This is a feat, considering the guy was a blurrier-Edward Gorey type illustrator, but maybe that's the key here: the translation of horror from sketch to s "Typical of this stage was a love of half-withered flowers." I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say that this novel is better than anything Kafka wrote. That's risky as hell, but I don't care because it is way better. In fact, written in 1908, it's almost as if Kafka's entire career was trying to match up with this, Kubin's literary pinnacle. This is a feat, considering the guy was a blurrier-Edward Gorey type illustrator, but maybe that's the key here: the translation of horror from sketch to sentence? Enough of that crap. This novel is about the Dreamland called "Pearl" and comes complete with a map. The map won't do you much good, though, since pretty much the entire novel is the narrator's account of the foul, obscene, hilarious, and perverted decay of "Pearl" as it falls into chaos after the invasion of the American millionaire Hercules Bell. There are orgies, hellish snake invasions, masturbation sessions, murders, theft, fraud, sinkholes, strange camels, and the realization that "love has its focus between faeces and urine". Unlike anything you will probably ever read, it's a fun and hilarious story of urban decay and symbolic futility!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    I came to see that behind the world was the power of the imagination: ‘Imagination is power.’ Angst Jede Nacht besucht uns ein Traum The earliest graphic work of Alfred Kubin are ink paintings of scenes out of nightmarish dreams – vampiric flying creatures, skulls emerging from stormy seas, reptilian idols, naked human forms galloping across landscapes on spidery legs, or hanging from precipices with ghosts pulling at their ankles. The artist was in his early twenties, having recently discovere I came to see that behind the world was the power of the imagination: ‘Imagination is power.’ Angst Jede Nacht besucht uns ein Traum The earliest graphic work of Alfred Kubin are ink paintings of scenes out of nightmarish dreams – vampiric flying creatures, skulls emerging from stormy seas, reptilian idols, naked human forms galloping across landscapes on spidery legs, or hanging from precipices with ghosts pulling at their ankles. The artist was in his early twenties, having recently discovered his style through encountering the work of Munch, Redon, and Max Klinger. Photographs of the artist as a young man show a boyish face with deep-set eyes that are slightly absent-present, dark hair combed down over his brow, a half-smile on his effeminate lips. He had recently suffered a nervous breakdown during his army service, and a couple of years before, he had made an attempt on his own life on the grave of his mother (who had died when he was only ten years old). Zwei Seetiere Verwandlung Kubin was prolific, in addition to his original artworks that were often created in series with fantastic and horrific themes, he also illustrated scores of books by such authors as Poe, Dostoevsky and E.T.A. Hoffman. Within a few years, he was also experimenting with color, creating amongst other things a group of paintings depicting deep-aquatic creatures, as seen in the reproductions above. As an island in all of this graphic creativity, he wrote his auspicious and only novel: Die Andere Seite. In the course of my narrative, however, something odd has happened. As, with scrupulous regard for the truth, I set down my experiences I found that, without realizing it, I had somehow managed to describe scenes which I cannot possibly have witnessed nor heard about from some other person. The unnamed narrator of Die Andere Seite, a graphic artist living in Munich with his ailing wife, is called upon one day by a man, claiming to represent a Claus Patera, who attended school with the narrator. As the man tells the story, Patera led a wandering life, which by chance brought him into one of the largest fortunes in the world. With this money, Patera proceeded to purchase an area of 1200 square miles in Asia, where he founded a country named the Dream Realm. This place is unknown to the rest of the world, and it is only possible to enter it by invitation or birth. The narrator is extended such an invitation, and soon he finds himself on a journey from Munich to Constanta to Samarkand, and eventually through a gigantic tunnel into the Dream Realm. One man’s dream is another man’s nightmare. The narrator and his wife arrive in a country where the sun never shines due to a meteorological phenomena that keeps it perpetually shrouded in mist. The foliage is grey, and everything which “at home was a riot of color was drab and dingy.” The inhabitants dress far behind the times, the architecture is a mish-mash of old building styles assembled from constructions of the outside world that have been torn down and brought into the Realm. Only “used” things are allowed into the country, no letters are allowed to be sent out, just as no one can leave without the personal permission of Patera to do so. Fantasies are reality in the Dream Realm, the economy is “symbolic,” and everyone subsists on fraudulence. It is a place ruled by constant misunderstandings, superstitions, and strange disturbances in the night. The reader initially lured in by the prospect of a Jules Vernian voyage to a utopian land, soon finds that the place at the journey’s end is closer to the drowning, crystal worlds and high rises of future Ballardian dystopias. However, it should be made clear that all this is simply setting the stage; only the beginning of the nightmare, so to speak. What follows is what feels like an endless descent into the collective insane conscience of mankind, or, a bottomless plunge into the imaginary worlds of a psychologically unstable Bohemian painter and illustrator of fantastic tales and stories. Here we are all ‘under the spell.’ Whether we like it or not, there is an inevitable fate which works itself out through us. And we have to be grateful that it’s not something worse. The first impressions that Alfred Kubin’s child’s eyes took in were those of Litoměřice in the Northern part of Bohemia, which at that time of course still was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. His family soon moved to the Salzburg area, and although Kubin later spent time in Prague and what would become Czechoslovakia, most of his life was lived in Austria. His book was written in German, but it is included in my personal journey through Czech literature as a fringe benefit by virtue of the author’s birth in Bohemia. The book is also habitually filed in the Czech section at bookstores in Prague.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Andy

    In a decadent, surreal mood, I dove into this. It is certainly both of those things, but it isn't like the mind-twisting imagery of Bruno Schulz or Michael Cisco for example. The narrator is a perfectly rational man describing what he's experiencing, and more or less sharing our reaction. For most of this book what we see is a very strange world, but one that could be constructed without any sort of supernatural aid. It's a world where the sky is perpetually overcast, the people dress strangely a In a decadent, surreal mood, I dove into this. It is certainly both of those things, but it isn't like the mind-twisting imagery of Bruno Schulz or Michael Cisco for example. The narrator is a perfectly rational man describing what he's experiencing, and more or less sharing our reaction. For most of this book what we see is a very strange world, but one that could be constructed without any sort of supernatural aid. It's a world where the sky is perpetually overcast, the people dress strangely and use outdated instruments. They are a tribe of dreamers, eccentrics and artists creating their own drowsy, magical, eccentric world. As the story goes along and unseen force behind everything becomes felt, as if this world is held together by the will of one person's dream. The story also becomes more grotesque and macabre, and Kubin seems to take as much joy in destroying it all as he did creating it. Some passages of cosmic destruction reminded me of "The House on the Borderland" where the very universe quakes, crumbles and is destroyed. Unfortunately this is an example of the sum being less than the parts. There are a lot of interesting episodes and touches in this book, but it doesn't come together like it could have. It has more than it's share of strange, fascinating images. And it has some interesting ideas, like buildings infesting a sort of energy from the events that have occurred there. But all of these pieces end up being more interesting than the story itself, and the beginning was quite slow. It's an interesting commentary that an American named Hercules Bell comes to the "Dream Realm" and is a catalyst for it's destruction. He's a practical man, avaricious and greedy. But by the end I wasn't sure if he was a source for good or ill frankly. There's certainly a political commentary here, but considering what happens it's open to interpretation.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Thomas

    Wonderfully vivid and intense imagery, great dreary atmosphere and some fun characters, for example the barber who talks about philosophy so much that he has to get a monkey to cut hair for him. Also the comparison to Kafka on the back of the book actually kinds of makes sense, that's a first. Wonderfully vivid and intense imagery, great dreary atmosphere and some fun characters, for example the barber who talks about philosophy so much that he has to get a monkey to cut hair for him. Also the comparison to Kafka on the back of the book actually kinds of makes sense, that's a first.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Nora

    AWESOME!!!!! One of my new favorites !

  17. 4 out of 5

    Oblomov

    For Freud, symbolism was straight forward: baldness meant castration, suitcases meant female genitalia, telescopes were phallic metaphors and a cigar was something that Freud regularly sucked on no matter how much it hurt him, but he always stressed was just a cigar. There's a scientific (though utterly wrong) logic and simplicity to Freud's understanding of symbols and how they relate to our subconsious, our 'other side'. That's not here in The Other Side. Instead, nothing and everything is in T For Freud, symbolism was straight forward: baldness meant castration, suitcases meant female genitalia, telescopes were phallic metaphors and a cigar was something that Freud regularly sucked on no matter how much it hurt him, but he always stressed was just a cigar. There's a scientific (though utterly wrong) logic and simplicity to Freud's understanding of symbols and how they relate to our subconsious, our 'other side'. That's not here in The Other Side. Instead, nothing and everything is in The Other Side. The novel is a mass of symbolism, empty and potent, indefinable and clear, terrifying and ridiculous, and the only unifying thing is the negativity of it all, the misery, crudeness and hopelessness. The plot starts simple and becomes impossible. Our protagonist gets a letter from an old friend inviting him to live in the Dream Realm, a new city state filled with lost intellectuals and houses imported brick by brick from Europe. Our hero agrees, travels out with his wife and finds a world where the sun never shines, everything rusts, everyone's neurotic and life is throttled by a Kafkaesque beaureacracy. The people slowly dissolve into disturbing, beastial violence and then reality fractures entirely, with the story a mass collage of dream like cosmic images and events, all of which is accompanied by smatterings of Kubin's own unnerving art work (and not nearly enough of them, in my opinion). What it all means is beyond me. What is the white horse really? Or the clock house, the demiurge, the fighting colossals, what is truly being said about the mix of Asian mysticism, European fin-de-siecle gloom and American idealism? If you want a book that becomes clear by the ending then this is certainly not it, but for those who want something that truly feels like an esculating nightmare, in all it's disjointed horror, The Other Side will happily hold your hand as it leads you through a more chaotic, bloody and surreal Willy Wonker's boat ride, then nonchalantly shove you out the back door to hitch-hike home alone.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Olivia

    Nothing short of amazing. I have wanted this book for so long but because it is out of print had difficult tracking it down. I was fortunate enough to be given a beautiful copy on Saturday evening. I adore Kubin as an artist and no less as a writer. Because it has been translated from German it is difficult to tell the actual quality of writing style but the story alone is enough to fall in love with it. It's a hugely underrated novel. My edition from 1969 is the first edition to have his comple Nothing short of amazing. I have wanted this book for so long but because it is out of print had difficult tracking it down. I was fortunate enough to be given a beautiful copy on Saturday evening. I adore Kubin as an artist and no less as a writer. Because it has been translated from German it is difficult to tell the actual quality of writing style but the story alone is enough to fall in love with it. It's a hugely underrated novel. My edition from 1969 is the first edition to have his complete autobiography included. It also contains his original illustrations. It was reprinted a number of times since it was written (around 1909 I think) with more and more of his autobiography added - obviously as he wrote it. I would recommend it to anyone with a slightly morbid imagination or an interest in him as an artist. I don't understand why it is not more widely known.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Wan Nor

    Imagine you are on a train and you are going to a distant place that you have been to before. Now imagine yourself sleeping and dreaming as the train enters a cold and desolate landscape. Imagine yourself walking among the dead where the people seem more alive that the people you know in your real life. Imagine yourself now walking in the past among ruined building and ancient relics. Imagine yourself in another world where people commit orgies in the streets and snakes curl under your bead-shee Imagine you are on a train and you are going to a distant place that you have been to before. Now imagine yourself sleeping and dreaming as the train enters a cold and desolate landscape. Imagine yourself walking among the dead where the people seem more alive that the people you know in your real life. Imagine yourself now walking in the past among ruined building and ancient relics. Imagine yourself in another world where people commit orgies in the streets and snakes curl under your bead-sheet. You are now in the world of Alfred Kubin

  20. 5 out of 5

    Bryn Hammond

    Just east of Samarkand... features a clan descended from Genghis Khan... Orientalist science fiction, with a Zoroastrian bent (?). What won me was the second half which is a vivid rendition of chaos come, end-of-times. In the first half I thought it a political fable but I lost that sense. Wild and compelling, mostly in the second half (and in this translation). An artist's only novel: that figures. It has his black-and-whites throughout. Just east of Samarkand... features a clan descended from Genghis Khan... Orientalist science fiction, with a Zoroastrian bent (?). What won me was the second half which is a vivid rendition of chaos come, end-of-times. In the first half I thought it a political fable but I lost that sense. Wild and compelling, mostly in the second half (and in this translation). An artist's only novel: that figures. It has his black-and-whites throughout.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Moslem Ahmadvand

    Boring! A hodge-podge of realistic and surrealistic images and narratives!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Ricche Khosasi

    try another perspective when reading this book, and the story is beyond ordinary novel

  23. 4 out of 5

    Sander

    Alfred Kubin is one cool guy. Had I been alive the same time as he, we would have been the greatest of friends. I first read this book over fifth-teen years ago when I had no idea who A.Kubin was nor had I any idea of the writers and the artists he worked with and/or identified amongst. Now, knowing a bit more about his time period and it's creators- this only intrigues me more. "Why did he write this and why didn't he write more?", I kept asking myself while reading. I wish he had written more Alfred Kubin is one cool guy. Had I been alive the same time as he, we would have been the greatest of friends. I first read this book over fifth-teen years ago when I had no idea who A.Kubin was nor had I any idea of the writers and the artists he worked with and/or identified amongst. Now, knowing a bit more about his time period and it's creators- this only intrigues me more. "Why did he write this and why didn't he write more?", I kept asking myself while reading. I wish he had written more but this being the only one I'm aware of- at least we have his art to look over and admire. Considering the times current and how easily so many have fallen in step behind an 'anything' that professes leadership, whether logically sound or not, you'd think we'd be smarter by now. But if there's one thing that reading has taught me its that we humans hardly ever come up against new and novel struggles and that instead, its the same fight over and over- only in a present guise this generation. One day this will be considered a classic in it's own small way.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Wreade1872

    Boy did that go downhill..... slowly. An artist and his wife are invited to live in the secret Dreamland put together by a, lets call him an eccentric millionaire. Whatever your idea of a Dreamland i can guarantee this won't be it :) . Its some pretty good weird fiction until the book starts announcing that the end is nigh... which was at the half-way point. It just kept going and going. It also got more surreal and i prefer weird to surreal, its a fine line between the two. The second half is mo Boy did that go downhill..... slowly. An artist and his wife are invited to live in the secret Dreamland put together by a, lets call him an eccentric millionaire. Whatever your idea of a Dreamland i can guarantee this won't be it :) . Its some pretty good weird fiction until the book starts announcing that the end is nigh... which was at the half-way point. It just kept going and going. It also got more surreal and i prefer weird to surreal, its a fine line between the two. The second half is more harrowing and graphic but i actually laughed at some of it as it just didn't have enough depth to be compelling or properly disturbing. Some interesting imagery and ideas but far too long. I believe the source of Patera's power is based on the idea of (view spoiler)[residual energy. The theory that objects or buildings which have been near extreme emotional events (such as murder) retain some of that emotional energy. So Patera uses the energy in the buildings and objects to power himself and allow him to manipulate his victims into extreme emotional states. Some of the energy of these emotions goes into the buildings and objects. Patera uses this energy to manipulate his victims into extreme emotional states and round and round we go :) . (hide spoiler)]

  25. 5 out of 5

    Don

    About half way through and haven't yet decided if I want to plunge on or abandon it. Like a less compelling Prozeß redeemed by its scattering of rather sparkling little gems of bleak and horrific dream images. I ended up finishing it; but I don't think that that was the nest decision. An interesting story that could have been a gem in the hands of a rather better writer. About half way through and haven't yet decided if I want to plunge on or abandon it. Like a less compelling Prozeß redeemed by its scattering of rather sparkling little gems of bleak and horrific dream images. I ended up finishing it; but I don't think that that was the nest decision. An interesting story that could have been a gem in the hands of a rather better writer.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Timothy Jarvis

    A dream idyll becomes a nightmare in this darkly demented novel, whose utterly bizarre narrative pre-empts many of the stranger tropes of twentieth-century decadent fiction.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kobe Bryant

    pretty wild for a book from 1908

  28. 5 out of 5

    Patrick

    Apparently Kafka liked this book and used it when writing The Castle. It is more of an elaborate setting than a story, unfortunately—a sort of reverse of the utopian genre (like News from Nowhere) which can’t help but be boring. Nothing is at stake. I enjoyed many scenes, however. For example, when the narrator first witnesses the "great clock spell": "In our main square there’s a massive grey tower, a kind of squat campanile, housing an old clock... It exerts a mysterious attraction on all the i Apparently Kafka liked this book and used it when writing The Castle. It is more of an elaborate setting than a story, unfortunately—a sort of reverse of the utopian genre (like News from Nowhere) which can’t help but be boring. Nothing is at stake. I enjoyed many scenes, however. For example, when the narrator first witnesses the "great clock spell": "In our main square there’s a massive grey tower, a kind of squat campanile, housing an old clock... It exerts a mysterious attraction on all the inhabitants which is beyond belief. At certain times the old tower is surrounded by swarms of men and woman... The people stamp nervously and keep looking up at the long rusty hands above. Ask them what’s going on and you’ll get bemused, evasive answers. If you take a closer look, you’ll see two small entrances at the foot of the tower. Everyone is pushing their way towards them... One after another the people disappear, each spending a minute or two inside. When they emerge they all have profoundly satisfied, almost happy expressions on their faces... I determined to risk it myself but was mightily disappointed... You go into a small, empty cell full of nooks and crannies, partly covered with mysterious drawings, presumably symbols. You can hear the huge pendulum swinging back and forth behind the wall. Tick... tock... tick... tock. There’s water streaming down the stone wall, streaming down unendingly. I did the same as the man who came in behind me, stared at the wall and said, loud and clear, ‘Here I stand before thee.’ Then we went out again... I found that I gradually began to feel the compulsion too. At first it was just a tug I felt whenever I went past the tower, but over the next few days my unease grew and grew until I was being literally dragged towards it, and now I’m fine. There are smaller clock towers on the same model scattered all over the town... I go to mine every day at the same time."

  29. 4 out of 5

    Eric

    European aristocrats and artists are disappearing from their towns. Entire structures are being moved, mysteriously, to a distant land. One day, the narrator of this tale is offered an invitation by a friend he'd forgotten he once had, to join him in a utopian dream world that's been his life project to create. The premise of Kubin's story is a mix of European folklore and Orientalist fairytale, reconsidered through the destructive imagination only a Decadent could conjure. The story builds slow European aristocrats and artists are disappearing from their towns. Entire structures are being moved, mysteriously, to a distant land. One day, the narrator of this tale is offered an invitation by a friend he'd forgotten he once had, to join him in a utopian dream world that's been his life project to create. The premise of Kubin's story is a mix of European folklore and Orientalist fairytale, reconsidered through the destructive imagination only a Decadent could conjure. The story builds slowly and, at times, laboriously — like a train going uphill — only to come crashing down into an runaway apocalyptic paroxysm the author clearly delighted in producing. Lots of fun.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Colin Clay

    Kubin's gloomy masterpiece will take you to The Other Side, exactly as promised in the title. The Dream Realm, where you will follow the lead protagonist, seems dreamy at first, but it quickly takes a dark turn and very soon you'll be descending the spiral staircase of Kubin's nightmarish imagination without any hope of return. It's fascinating, it's very gray and dreary, but at the same time vivid, it's bizarre and surreal and in the end horrifying to say at least. The images and scenes towards Kubin's gloomy masterpiece will take you to The Other Side, exactly as promised in the title. The Dream Realm, where you will follow the lead protagonist, seems dreamy at first, but it quickly takes a dark turn and very soon you'll be descending the spiral staircase of Kubin's nightmarish imagination without any hope of return. It's fascinating, it's very gray and dreary, but at the same time vivid, it's bizarre and surreal and in the end horrifying to say at least. The images and scenes towards the end of the book can easily be compared to hell itself. A shockingly stunning piece of literary work. I'll have to read it again in the future...

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