Josephine (Paperback)

The Mouse Singer

By Michael McClure

New Directions, 9780811207553

Publication Date: March 17, 1980

List Price: 16.95*
* Individual store prices may vary.


Michael McClure’s Josephine: The Mouse Singer, a play in verse, is based on a story of Franz Kafka’s, “Josephine the Singer, or the Mouse Folk.” Kafka and McClure? And yet the combination is bound to work, for in essence both writers in their different ways ponder the trials of the artist in an arbitrary universe. McClure’s exuberant, inspired adaptation, in fact, reminds us of the bizarre whimseys Kafka’s tales were originally intended to be. The first New York production of Josephine: The Mouse Singer, in November 1978 at the WPA Theatre, received The Village Voice’s prestigious Obie award for the Best Play of the Year. “As so often happens Off-Off-Broadway,” the Voice’s citation reads. “it is a play that was performed for only three weekends, but it is a play of extraordinary wit and grace and wisdom, at once utterly charming and almost unbearably painful, a play which tells us that the relationship between artists and their society is often intolerable, but which also tells us that for a society to endure without its artists is impossible.”

About the Author

Michael McClure, a founding member of the Beat Generation, has long been noted for the popularity of his dynamic poetry performances. At twenty-two he gave his first poetry reading at the legendary Six Gallery event in San Francisco, where Allen Ginsberg first read Howl. He is the co-author of the song “Mercedes Benz” and often performs with musicians, notably Ray Manzarek and Terry Riley.