“In praise of an inverted way of life” (1908) is a translation of “Lob der verkehrten Lebensweise” (F 257-258: 10-14) and is, to the best of my knowledge, the third English translation of this essay. Harry Zohn, one of the forerunners in Kraus translation, translated this essay and included it in his anthology In These Great Times: A Karl Kraus Reader. The second translation is available at Die Weltbühne in English Translation.
Why, then, does the world need another translation of this essay, this satirical justification for night owls, as it were? Both Zohn and Die Weltbühne in English Translation prefer an overly literal translation. There is, of course, nothing inherently objectionable about such translations. They are even desirable at times; they can preserve understanding at the cost of good prose when an occasion demands the former and not the latter. It is, however, my opinion that the over-literalness of the translations by Zohn and Die Weltbühne in English Translation makes it seem as if Kraus had—if you like—simply concatenated witticisms and loosely structured them in paragraphs. But Kraus did no such thing. Kraus offers a well-structured and linearly progressive argument. And the translation published here attempts to remedy the disparity that I see between Kraus’s essay and the two existing translations of it.