Ralph Manheim

Ralph Frederick Manheim (1907–1992) was an American translator of German and French literature. After graduating from Harvard, Yale and Columbia, Manheim spent time in Munich and Vienna. His first major work was translating Hitler’s Mein Kampf into English with all of its grammatical errors and awkward phrasing intact. Manheim won many awards in his lifetime, including a MacArthur Foundation (1983) “genius” grant. He also received a Guggenheim Fellowship, a prize from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, a National Book Award and honors from PEN. The PEN/Ralph Manheim Medal for Translation is awarded to mark major lifetime achievement in the field of translation.

Journey to the End of the Night

Fiction by Louis-Ferdinand Céline

Translated from the French by Ralph Manheim

With a contribution by William Vollmann

Céline’s masterpiece—colloquial, polemic, hyper realistic—boils over with bitter humor and revulsion at society’s idiocy and hypocrisy: Journey to the End of the Night is a literary symphony of cruelty and violence that hurtles through the improbable travels of the petit bourgeois (and largely autobiographical) antihero, Bardamu: from the trenches of WWI, to the African jungle, to New York, to the Ford Factory in Detroit, and finally to life in Paris as a failed doctor.…
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Efraim’s Book

by Alfred Andersch

Translated from the German by Ralph Manheim

Efraim’s Book is the sophisticated, offbeat novel about the peculiar society of post-World-II Berlin. Its hero George Efraim is a Jewish reporter who has fought for the British on the Italian front and lost both parents to Auschwitz. He returns home to Berlin in 1962 for the first time since the war to investigate the wartime disappearance of his editor’s daughter, only to begin writing a novel, which helps him “to embark on a certain arrangement of signs with the help of which I hope to chart my position.…
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The Life Before Us

by Romain Gary

Translated from the French by Ralph Manheim

The Life Before Us is the story of an orphaned Arab boy, Momo, and his devotion to Madame Rosa, a dying, 68-year-old, 220-lb. survivor of Auschwitz and retired “lady of the night.” Momo has been one of the ever-changing ragbag of whores’ children at Madame Rosa’s boardinghouse in Paris ever since he can remember. But when the check that pays for his keep no longer arrives and as Madame Rosa becomes too ill to climb the stairs to their apartment, he determines to support her any way he can.…
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Death On The Installment Plan

by Louis-Ferdinand Céline

Translated from the French by Ralph Manheim

Death on the Installment Plan is a companion volume to Louis-Ferdinand Céline’s earlier novel, Journey to the End of the Night. Published in rapid succession in the middle 1930s, these two books shocked European literature and world consciousness. Nominally fiction but more rightly called “creative confessions,” they told of the author’s childhood in excoriating Paris slums, of service in the mud wastes of World War I and African jungles. Mixing unmitigated despair with Gargantuan comedy, they also created a new style, in which invective and obscenity were laced with phrases of unforgettable poetry.…
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