from The Man with the Black Wart
A novel by Paul Baudisch
(Translated by W. C. Bamberger)

Step by step the man with the black wart passed by.

The usual evening, sweaty and stifling, hung on the houses strung along the electric splendor of the horizon. A sound came from the edge of the sewer grate.

The man with the black wart looked neither to the right nor to the left.

Rats circled out from basements - and in the black holes of windows curtains fluttered. Dreams stank faintly up to the sky.

The man with the black wart nodded to the fore.

Next to the last shadow of the city there was a built-up woodlot, from which coolness flowed. Sparks rose to the stars, bright tatters shyly wandered here and there over the roofs, and the moon streamed a mournful green and yellow against the first chimney.

The man with the black wart grinned inwardly.

And, hooting, the drunken humor of 12th hour went bellowing from the Variety Theatre to pound on the church door, with the strokes of the clock shattering like champagne glasses.

The man with the black wart went on unflinchingly.

Now the pale fading light sparkled in the gutters. The whores swarmed romantically in a tangle of colors and diamonds, whistling like nightingales.

The man with the black wart passed through the center.

Then it sank to an end. A smell of corpses from the dead moon blew over the sleep that exhausted life to death, and the confused bedridden after a nightmare felt yearning. It may be that a comet no one saw flew through the night.

But who is the man with the black wart?


Note on the Author:

Paul Baudisch was born in Vienna in 1899. By the time he was 18 he was publishing poetry, plays and fiction in such Expressionist journals as Ver, Der Friede [Peace], and Die Botschaft [The Message], and many more. In 1926 he moved to Berlin where he made his living as a freelance writer and translator. As the Nazis came to power in Germany Baudisch first relocated back to Vienna, then to Paris and finally to Sweden where he worked as a translator and screenwriter. (He even had a small part in one of the films he wrote.) In 1957 he moved back to Munich where he continued translating dozens of popular American and British novels. He died in 1977.

Baudisch's first novel, Schlumpf, oder das groteske Pathos [Schlumpf, or Grotesque Passion] was published in 1920, and Der Man mit der schwarzen Warze [The Man with the Black Wart] in 1921. Neither of these have yet been translated into English, and he remains almost totally unknown in the English-speaking world. (A novella, the title of which translates as Resumé of a Drowned Body, was announced but never appeared.) This very short excerpt from my translation-in-progress comprises the complete first chapter of the novel.