“Two runners” is a translation of a poem that Kraus first published without a title in a 1910 edition of Die Fackel (F 300: 32); Kraus went on to publish it verbatim in two other works of his: in his second volume of aphorisms Pro domo et mundo in 1912, again without a title (283), and in the first volume of his Worte in Versen in 1916, this time under the title “Zwei Läufer” (12). It is from this last publication that both our translation and the four previous English translations of this poem have received their title. … This is to say that our translation is, to the best of our knowledge, the fifth English translation of this poem. Harry Zohn included a translation in his In These Great Times: a Karl Kraus reader (151). Josef Schächter included a translation in the preface he wrote for the English edition of Paul Engelmann’s Letters from Ludwig Wittgenstein: With a Memoir (quoted in Szasz’s Anit-Freud: Karl Kraus’s Criticism of Psychoanalysis and Psychiatry (55)). And Edward Timms has translated this poem twice, once in his Karl Kraus, Apocalyptic Satirist: Culture and Catastrophe in Habsburg Vienna (232-233) and once in his Karl Kraus, Apocalyptic Satirist: The Post-War Crisis and the Rise of the Swastika (613). Why, then, does the world need a fifth translation of this poem?
The answer is that all four previous translations are deficient in some way: they, in various degrees, do not retain the meter, the rhyme, and/or the form of the original German. Our translation retains all these to the extent possible in translation; our translation (i) bears deviations in meter similar to the deviations contained in the original, (ii) retains the AA/BB/CC/DD rhyme scheme of the original, and (iii) retains both the form of an arrow and the visual and acoustic mirror between the first two and the last two lines of the poem. … Yet, our translation does more than that; it also takes into consideration Kraus’s apparent reliance upon Shakespeare for certain choices of word and a direct quote from Philipp Kaufmann’s German translation of Othello. …
But we will be discussing this and more in—what we believe is—a novel interpretation of this poem, which we will be sharing in a separate blog piece once we finish it. … We hope before very long.
Brigitte Stocker and Peter Winslow