Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction and Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel and post Colonial Asian Fiction, Yiddish Literature, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality historical novels are some of my Literary Interests





Saturday, November 29, 2014

German Literature IV Post Event Party - Your Presence is humbly Requested






Consider this your formal invitation to the close out party for German Literature IV. The festivities will take place in the Goethe Room at The Grand Budapest Hotel. Please wear formal evening attire,if possible.  You may bring your own guests and all of the authors and characters you posted on are more than welcome.  


Your host will be Ruffington Bousweau, author of The Manly Man’s Guide to the Ports of the Mediterranean.





Consider this your formal invitation to the close out party for German Literature IV. The festivities will take place in the Goethe Room at The Grand Budapest Hotel. Please wear formal evening attire,if possible.  The time will be announced shortly, there will be many special guests, Ruffy, you will be calling him that my the end of the party, has added his own chef to those of the Grand Hotel so the food will be exquisite. If you need help with booking flights or steamships, contact the hotel concierge. Prince Youseff has kindly booked on his account the top three floors of the hotel for complementary rooms for event guests.  You may stay for seven days.




 Lizzy has been assigned the Queen Theresa Suite and Carolina, cats permitted, the Maria Antoinette Suite. There shall be, details being worked out with hotel management, a Venus in Furs Costume Party.


 Kafka has already RSVPed and indicates he will come if he can escape the castle, Stefan Zweig will be delighted to see his old friend Ruffy in whose modest 32 room Chateau in the south of France he once wintered, Joseph Roth, after verifying endless drinks are “on the house”, said he will be coming for sure. Gregor von Rezzori will be in attendance but Thomas Bernard refused the very idea. All event participants are invited.

                                           

                                                     Two Early Arrivers Getting in the Spirit

Post event there will be a detailed report with most indescretions veiled.

 

                                    Gregor von Rezzori has already arrived.



                                 Ruffy, yes I am coming 

                                 Mousier Bousweau is expecting me.

                                 Please join us

Please RSVP if possible

Mel von ü

Friday, November 28, 2014

"The Walk" by Robert Walser (1917)



"Since then I have slowly learned to grasp how everything is connected across space and time, the life of the Prussian writer Kleist with that of a Swiss author who claims to have worked as a clerk in a brewery in Thun, the echo of a pistol shot across the Wannsee with the view from a window of the Herisau asylum, Walser’s long walks with my own travels, dates of birth with dates of death, happiness with misfortune, natural history and the history of our industries, that of Heimat with that of exile. On all these paths Walser has been my constant companion. I only need to look up for a moment in my daily work to see him standing somewhere a little apart, the unmistakable figure of the solitary walker just pausing to take in the surroundings."  William Sebald





Works I have so far read for German Literature Month 2014




1.   Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse

2.   Gertrude by Hermann Hesse 

3.  "Diary of a School Boy" by Robert Walser (no post)

4.  Steppenwolf by Herman Hesse

5.  Burning Secret by Stefan Zweig 1925

6.  Life Goes On by Hans Keilson

7.  Comedy in a Minor Key by Hans Keilson

8.  "The Wall" by Jurek Becker

9.  "Romeo" by Jurek Becker

10.   "The Invisible City" by Jurek Becker.

11.  Wittgenstein's Nephew by Thomas Bernhard

12. "Dostoevsky's Idiot" by Robert Walser

13.  "French Newspapers" by Robert Wasler 

14.  Jakob the Lier by Jurek Becker

15.  The Trial by Franz Kafka 1915,

16.  "The Seamstress" by Rainer Maria Rilke  1894

17.  "The Experiement or the Victory of Children" by Unica Zürn 1950

18.  "The Star Above the Forest" by Stefan Zweig. 1924

19.  "Saint Cecilia or the Power of Music" by Heinrich von Kleist 1810

20.  Amok by Stefan Zweig 1923

21.  Concrete 1982

22.  "Kleist in Thun" by Robert Walser 1913

23.  "Incident at Lake Geneva" by Stefan Zweig (1924)

24.  "The Governess" by Stefan Zweig 1927

25.  "The Sandman" by E. T. A. Hoffmann 1817

26.  "The Secrets of the Princess of Kagran" by Ingeborg Bachmann 1971

27.  "Twilight" by Stefan Zweig 1928

28.   "The Lunatic" by Georg Heym 1913

29.    "Dissection" by Georg Heym 1913 - no post 

30.   "Blackbird" by Robert Musil

31.  "The Kiss" by Robert Walser 1914. - no post

32.  "The Suspect" by Jurek Becker. 1980,

33.  "A Favorite Family Story" by Jurek Becker 1982

34.  "Moonbeam Alley" by Stefan Zweig. 1928

35.  "Flower Days". By Robert Walser, 1911, no post.

36.  "Fantastic Night" by Stefan Zweig

37.   "The Walk" by Robert Walser. 1917

38.   The Flight Without End by Joseph Roth. No post.

When I attempted to post on Robert Walser's "Kleist in Thun" I found myself unable to do more than launch into a barely credible to those who have not experienced rhapsody on the story in which I said 
it belonged among the greatest of all art.  I now feel the same way about his longer work, "The Walk". 

Maybe in 2015 I will try to write a series of post on Walser, I have two of his collections of short stories.

William Sebald does a great job of explaining the wonder and power of Robert Walser in this article reprinted in The New Yorker.




                                Getting Ready for the closing Party for German Literature Month IV
                                                                      Hosted by Ruffington Bousweau

Mel von ü


German Literature Month November 2014






Consider this your formal invitation to the close out party for German Literature IV. The festivities will take place in the Goethe Room at The Grand Budapest Hotel. Please wear formal evening attire,if possible. 


My thrice observed annual November sojourn to Germania and the greater Austro-Hungarian Empire has come to a close.  My great thanks to Caroline and Lizzy for the hard work and labour of love behindGerman-Literature   Month.  I read some wonderful works and discovered some great new to me writers.

One cannot help but wonder how a culture that could produce the magnificent Cathedral of Ulm, Mozart and Bach, Goethe, the grand philosophical structures of Kant and Hegel,  could have brought about the Holocaust and the horrible destruction of World War Two.  Joseph Roth felt vicious anti-Semiticism was the natural out come of Prussian culture.  Aplogists will say it was just an aberration and wave their hands around.  Those who don't want to face the question will say it is a paradox of the human condition.  Reverse engineering history as leading up to something takes careful thought and lots of space but I think Roth has a very good point, and he did not live to see the full horror of his predictions come true.  



Here is what I read for the month with some quick notes.  A * means one of my favorites.

1.   Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse. Reread from decades ago.  

2.   Gertrude by Hermann Hesse - disappointing 

3.  "Diary of a School Boy" by Robert Walser (no post)

4.  Steppenwolf by Herman Hesse. * a reread from the long ago. An important book.



5.  Burning Secret by Stefan Zweig 1925. Typical Zweig

6.  Life Goes On by Hans Keilson. ** a work of genius Germany between the wars


7.  Comedy in a Minor Key by Hans Keilson ** 

8.  "The Wall" by Jurek Becker. Set in the Lodz Ghetto under the Nazis


9.  "Romeo" by Jurek Becker. Berlin story

10.   "The Invisible City" by Jurek Becker.  

11.  Wittgenstein's Nephew by Thomas Bernhard. First Bernhard for me.  Interesting. 

12. "Dostoevsky's Idiot" by Robert Walser


13.  "French Newspapers" by Robert Wasler 

14.  Jakob the Lier by Jurek Becker * very moving. I also saw Robin Williams movie

15.  The Trial by Franz Kafka 1915,  ** of immense ifluence and very readable



16.  "The Seamstress" by Rainer Maria Rilke  1894. Nice to find a Rilke short story

17.  "The Experiement or the Victory of Children" by Unica Zürn 1950. Yes one of only two works by a woman.

18.  "The Star Above the Forest" by Stefan Zweig. 1924. Story of obsessive love



19.  "Saint Cecilia or the Power of Music" by Heinrich von Kleist 1810. Fun story

20.  Amok by Stefan Zweig 1923.  Very interesting.

21.  Concrete by Thomas Bernhard 1982. Maybe I will try to read him in full 

22.  "Kleist in Thun" by Robert Walser 1913 *** high art

23.  "Incident at Lake Geneva" by Stefan Zweig (1924).  A World War One story.

24.  "The Governess" by Stefan Zweig 1927

25.  "The Sandman" by E. T. A. Hoffmann 1817. Very famous story 

26.  "The Secrets of the Princess of Kagran" by Ingeborg Bachmann 1971 second work by a woman

27.  "Twilight" by Stefan Zweig 1928. Among the best Zweig, historical fiction 

28.   "The Lunatic" by Georg Heym 1913 my first by this author *. 

29.    "Dissection" by Georg Heym 1913 - no post 

30.   "Blackbird" by Robert Musil. No post.  I want to read A Man without Qualities one of these days.

31.  "The Kiss" by Robert Walser 1914. - no post

32.  "The Suspect" by Jurek Becker. 1980,

33.  "A Favorite Family Story" by Jurek Becker 1982 a really entertaining story.

34.  "Moonbeam Alley" by Stefan Zweig. 1928.  A trip into a back alley brothel

35.  "Flower Days". By Robert Walser, 1911, no post.

36.  "Fantastic Night" by Stefan Zweig.  

37.   "The Walk" by Robert Walser. 1917 *** this and "Incident at Thun" were my most liked works

38.   The Flight Without End by Joseph Roth. No post as excellant posts by others. *

39.  Venus in Furs by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch - I am glad I read this.  *

40.  Effie Briest  by Theodore Fontaine.  Historically interesting but tedious 

I anticipate going forward to read much more in the literature of Germania and The Austro- Hungarian Empire.   I will keep on reading more of Stefan Zweig and Joseph Roth.  I hope to acquire  collections of short fiction by Hoffman and von Kleist.  For sure I will read more Robert Walser. I wanted to read ore works by female authors but it did not happen.  I hope to read at least Faust Part one before GL V.
I plan to read more works by Herman Hesse, Thomas Mann and more Kafka for sure. I will read at least one more novel Juret Becker.  I have sadly read all the Kindle editions of books by Gregor von Rezzori.  I will reread his beautiful Memoirs of an Anti-Semite, I hope.

I wanted to read this month The Death of Virgil by Herman Broch and The Emigrants by William Sebald and will try to read them before GL V.



I hope very much to be able to participate in German Literature Month V in November 2015

Thanks again to Lizzy and Caroline.

Hope to see all at the party an The Grand Budapest Hotel, December 1, 2014, Eight PM.



"Fantastic Night" by Stefan Zweig (1928). More Images from Grand Hotel by Wes Anderson

Random Thoughts on the role of the Dandy in Zweig and elsewhere.


 There are still a few days left in German Literature Month.  Still time to join in.  There are many great posts, reading through them is much like a fine class in German literature at a top academy.  Take your Ipad with you and read them while you have a treat from Mendl's, relaxing in the lobby of The Grand Budapest Hotel, circa 1932.  If you need anything, just ask the concierge.   







Works I have so far read for German Literature Month 2014



1.   Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse

2.   Gertrude by Hermann Hesse 

3.  "Diary of a School Boy" by Robert Walser (no post)

4.  Steppenwolf by Herman Hesse

5.  Burning Secret by Stefan Zweig 1925

6.  Life Goes On by Hans Keilson

7.  Comedy in a Minor Key by Hans Keilson

8.  "The Wall" by Jurek Becker

9.  "Romeo" by Jurek Becker

10.   "The Invisible City" by Jurek Becker.

11.  Wittgenstein's Nephew by Thomas Bernhard

12. "Dostoevsky's Idiot" by Robert Walser

13.  "French Newspapers" by Robert Wasler 

14.  Jakob the Lier by Jurek Becker

15.  The Trial by Franz Kafka 1915,

16.  "The Seamstress" by Rainer Maria Rilke  1894

17.  "The Experiement or the Victory of Children" by Unica Zürn 1950

18.  "The Star Above the Forest" by Stefan Zweig. 1924

19.  "Saint Cecilia or the Power of Music" by Heinrich von Kleist 1810

20.  Amok by Stefan Zweig 1923

21.  Concrete 1982

22.  "Kleist in Thun" by Robert Walser 1913

23.  "Incident at Lake Geneva" by Stefan Zweig (1924)

24.  "The Governess" by Stefan Zweig 1927

25.  "The Sandman" by E. T. A. Hoffmann 1817

26.  "The Secrets of the Princess of Kagran" by Ingeborg Bachmann 1971

27.  "Twilight" by Stefan Zweig 1928

28.   "The Lunatic" by Georg Heym 1913

29.    "Dissection" by Georg Heym 1913 - no post 

30.   "Blackbird" by Robert Musil

31.  "The Kiss" by Robert Walser 1914. - no post

32.  "The Suspect" by Jurek Becker. 1980,

33.  "A Favorite Family Story" by Jurek Becker 1982

34.  "Moonbeam Alley" by Stefan Zweig. 1928

35.  "Flower Days". By Robert Walser, 1911, no post.

36.  "Fantastic Night" by Stefan Zweig



"Fantastic Night", at seventy pages it can be seen as a novella, is at times a  wonderful and at times a maddening short story.   The story is told by a thirty six year old dandy, set in Vienna in 1910.  He has inherited enough wealth to live a life revolving around self-cultivation, pleasure seeking, and leads a life many would envy with no cares or responsibilities.   Every since I read Declan Kiberd's examination of the role of the dandy in European literature, in Inventing Ireland:  The Literature of the Modern Nation, I have come to the dandy as a central figure in European literature.  Kiberd says the consummate "dandy novel" is A Sentimental Education.  In Search of Lost Time can be seen as centering on the life of a dandy.  The figure of the dandy is tied in with camp and cross sexual literature but the relationships are complicated.  In contemporary writers, you can find a brilliant treatment of the dandy in the short stories of the greatest of living Irish writers, Desmond Hogan.  Viennese society and that of the Weimer period in Germany are almost cultures of the dandy.  All this is complicated and could take us into very deep waters.  Many dandy's fled Europe, as did Zweig, some joined the Nazis, many passed in concentration camps.  In a way Stefan Zweig and Joseph Roth are versions of the dandy, but then maybe Roth is the anti-dandy!  Anyway "Fantastic Nighf" for sure belongs in the literature of the dandy.  The dandy needs ever increasing stimulations, more and more extreme experiences.  Think of the spiral of Dorian Gray.   As I read this work I asked myself does this story ring true, my answer was yes sometimes.  Similar forces that drive some dandy's to be gay drive others to become womanizers and conisueurs of prostitues.  Think James Boswell.  Basing my thoughts on The Impossible Exhile -  Stefan Zweig at the End of the World by George Prochnik, a must read book, Zweig fits neatly into this pattern.  The more I think on it the more the literature of Germania and the Austro-Hungarian Empire seems permeated by the figure of the dandy.   With destruction of the empire and the protective culture of Vienna, the world of the dandy went into steep decline, almost driven underground.




Mel von ü

Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Non-Existent Knight by Italo Calvino (1959, translated by Archibald Colquhoun, in Our Ancestors)





I have been reading works by Italo Calvino (1923 to 1985) for sometime.  About five years ago I purchased Our Ancestors, a collection of three novellas by Calvino on sale for 200 PHP.  With the reading of The Non-Existent Knight, set in the time of Charlemagne, I have finished the book.   It is very much modernist magic realism with a heavy dose of meta-fiction and more than a dash of whimsy thrown in.  The central "character" is a non-existent knight inhabiting a suit of armor.  Calvino in a preface written for Our Ancestors says you can read The Non-Existent Knight as an existentialist, a Jungian, a Freudian, a neo-Kantian or a structuralist or other ways or you can just enjoy it.  

I did enjoy this book and am for now going to leave it at that.  Calvino is a very self aware writer, watching himself tell a story and this idea is played with in The Non-Existent Knight.


"Moonbeam Alley" by Stefan Zweig. -- A Homage to The Grand Hotel by Wes Anderson

There are still a few days left in German Literature Month IV.  Lots of time left to participate. There are many great posts, reading through them is much like a fine class in German literature at a top academy.  Take your Ipad with you and read them while you have a treat from Mendl's, relaxing in the lobby of The Grand Budapest Hotel, circa 1932.






Works I have so far read for German Literature Month 2014



1.   Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse

2.   Gertrude by Hermann Hesse 

3.  "Diary of a School Boy" by Robert Walser (no post)

4.  Steppenwolf by Herman Hesse

5.  Burning Secret by Stefan Zweig 1925

6.  Life Goes On by Hans Keilson

7.  Comedy in a Minor Key by Hans Keilson

8.  "The Wall" by Jurek Becker

9.  "Romeo" by Jurek Becker

10.   "The Invisible City" by Jurek Becker.

11.  Wittgenstein's Nephew by Thomas Bernhard

12. "Dostoevsky's Idiot" by Robert Walser

13.  "French Newspapers" by Robert Wasler 

14.  Jakob the Lier by Jurek Becker

15.  The Trial by Franz Kafka 1915,

16.  "The Seamstress" by Rainer Maria Rilke  1894

17.  "The Experiement or the Victory of Children" by Unica Zürn 1950

18.  "The Star Above the Forest" by Stefan Zweig. 1924

19.  "Saint Cecilia or the Power of Music" by Heinrich von Kleist 1810

20.  Amok by Stefan Zweig 1923

21.  Concrete 1982

22.  "Kleist in Thun" by Robert Walser 1913

23.  "Incident at Lake Geneva" by Stefan Zweig (1924)

24.  "The Governess" by Stefan Zweig 1927

25.  "The Sandman" by E. T. A. Hoffmann 1817

26.  "The Secrets of the Princess of Kagran" by Ingeborg Bachmann 1971

27.  "Twilight" by Stefan Zweig 1928

28.   "The Lunatic" by Georg Heym 1913

29.    "Dissection" by Georg Heym 1913 - no post 

30.   "Blackbird" by Robert Musil

31.  "The Kiss" by Robert Walser 1914. - no post

32.  "The Suspect" by Jurek Becker. 1980

33.  "A Favorite Family Story" by Jurek Becker 1982

34.  "Moonbeam Alley" by Stefan Zweig. 1928

35.  "Flower Days". By Robert Walser, 1911, no post.


Yesterday I saw The Grand Hotel directed by Wes Anderson, inspired by the work of Stefan Zweig.
I want to be transported back to 1932 and move into The Grand Budapest Hotel!  I love this movie, everything about it was great. Lovers of the fiction of Zweig will luxuriate in the visual wonders of this world.  Interspersed in my post on a tale of an encounter in a seedy back alley brothel in Marseilles will be some images from the movie.



As "Moonbeam Alley" opens a man has an unexpectedly long lay over in a French port city.  He decides to pass the time by going for a long walk.  He wanders into the very seediest parts of town, a section of brothels and bars replete with many scary seeming persons.  He goes into a brothel pretending to be a bar.  The plot is conventional melodrama.  One of the hookers was once the wife of a wealthy man who drove her away with his cheapness.  He is now reduced to a back alley bum still obsessed with a woman who does all she can to hurt and humiliate him. 



The story closes with the two men walking back to the hotel of the man on the layover, during which time tale of the hooker and the once wealthy man is told.  




If you have seen the movie, what was your reaction?

Mel von ü




Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Peter Schlemiel by Adelbert Chamisso (1814)









There are still several days left in German Literature Month IV.  Lots of time left to participate. There are already over a hundred posts, reading through them is much like a fine class in German literature at a top academy.




Works I have so far read for German Literature Month 2014



1.   Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse

2.   Gertrude by Hermann Hesse 

3.  "Diary of a School Boy" by Robert Walser (no post)

4.  Steppenwolf by Herman Hesse

5.  Burning Secret by Stefan Zweig 1925

6.  Life Goes On by Hans Keilson

7.  Comedy in a Minor Key by Hans Keilson

8.  "The Wall" by Jurek Becker

9.  "Romeo" by Jurek Becker

10.   "The Invisible City" by Jurek Becker.

11.  Wittgenstein's Nephew by Thomas Bernhard

12. "Dostoevsky's Idiot" by Robert Walser

13.  "French Newspapers" by Robert Wasler 

14.  Jakob the Lier by Jurek Becker

15.  The Trial by Franz Kafka 1915,

16.  "The Seamstress" by Rainer Maria Rilke  1894

17.  "The Experiement or the Victory of Children" by Unica Zürn 1950

18.  "The Star Above the Forest" by Stefan Zweig. 1924

19.  "Saint Cecilia or the Power of Music" by Heinrich von Kleist 1810

20.  Amok by Stefan Zweig 1923

21.  Concrete 1982

22.  "Kleist in Thun" by Robert Walser 1913

23.  "Incident at Lake Geneva" by Stefan Zweig (1924)

24.  "The Governess" by Stefan Zweig 1927

25.  "The Sandman" by E. T. A. Hoffmann 1817

26.  "The Secrets of the Princess of Kagran" by Ingeborg Bachmann 1971

27.  "Twilight" by Stefan Zweig 1928

28.   "The Lunatic" by Georg Heym 1913

29.    "Dissection" by Georg Heym 1913 - no post 

30.   "Blackbird" by Robert Musil

"Peter Schlemiel" by Adelbert Chamisso (1781 to 1838, born Klagenfurt, Austria-Hungaria), "Schleiel" is a Yiddish word referring to a person who is a hopeless screw up, is a very influential story.   Peter meets a mysterious man at a party, what ever anyone requests he can pull out of his pocket, he evens pulls out three magnificent horses.  The man, who is a minion of the devil if not the devil, offers Peter an endless purse of gold in exchange for his shadow.  Peter excepts but when people see he has no shadow he is shunned and repudiated by his fiancé.  He tries to hide his loss by going out at night ad on cloudy days mostly.  He finds a faithful servant and luxuriates in his endless supply of gold coins.

However, compressing a good bit, he meets up with the devil again, the devil says he will return his shadow in exchange for his soul.  Peter refuses and begins to explore the world in seven league boots.  To me this was the most interesting part of the story.  I will leave the end untold.

This story is important for its historical impact.  The author was a poet and botanist living in a time when one person could still hope to "know every thing" and you can see this in Peter's trips around the world, studying nature and cultures.

I read this story in Tales of the German Imagination, edited, introduced and translated by Peter Wortsman, a very good anthology.


Mel von ü