The Mistress Sent Me

“Read more books” is the order of the day, given by The Mistress herself when she instigated The 2016 Infomaniac Book Challenge – not a contest ! – back in January of this year. Time flies and here we have the impressing list of 12 (!) titles The Mistress managed to read over the last two months. Who’d thought that he visits The Infomaniac for the reading lists ?
My list is obviously shorter and contains German books only. I will give a little information about each.


SCHENKE, Ernst : Die bunte Schlesiertruhe. Ein schlesisches Heimatbüchlein für Alt und Jung, 3. erweiterte und veränderte Auflage (12.-15.Tsd.), Troisdorf 1965 (Kammwegbücher, Ostdeutsches Heimatschrifttum)
Well, at first sight this may reek of revanchism, but in fact it does not smell nasty. It is simply a collection of poems and stories / tales that describe situations (real or imagined) in an unpolitical, carefree, unhistorical Silesia sometime before war and expulsion took place. It is a typical product of the “Erinnerungsliteratur” and “Heimatliteratur” written by and for members of the demographic group who grew up there and became refugees after 1945. I think I mentioned on this blog that my father was born in Breslau (1930).
I never have heard him speak the dialect. I am sure that he understood it, his parents may have been fluent in it, but I only heard them speak “Hochdeutsch”. I have few titles about Silesian history, biographies etc., now and then I look into them. This little book came to me accidentally out of the estate of an old lady I distantly knew, her family came from Oppeln.

WALSER, Robert : Maler, Poet und Dame. Aufsätze über Kunst und Künstler. Herausgegeben von Daniel KEEL, Zürich 1981 (detebe-Klassiker 20794)
Short essays by Robert WALSER (Ger., Eng., more) about art and artists.
What a life !
I prefer short forms, in music, in writing. Walser is a master.

Die Wiedererweckung des Lachens. Schwänke und Scherze aus dem sechzehnten Jahrhundert. Ausgewählt, übersetzt und eingeleitet von Edgar SCHUMACHER, Zürich Stuttgart 1967
Contains texts published from the late 15th to the late 16th century in Italy, Germany (let’s just assume it exists), & France, by BANDELLO, BEBEL, PAULI, WICKRAM, RABELAIS – sorry I am not familiar with the French authors – and others, I named just those I have a dim idea about.
“facetiae” are collections of jokes first published in Renaissance times. The earliest one is pretty rude & contains scatological jokes and tales. It gets better over time. So if you want to know how old these jokes really are …

Non Fiction

KRIEG, Werner : Einführung in die Bibliothekskunde. 2. Auflage besorgt von Rudolf JUNG, Darmstadt 1990
What is a library ? History and types of libraries. What does a library collect ? Work in a library. Libraries in Germany, organisation(s), central institutions, planing. Information & documentation. Possibly outdated, but if you are interested in libraries in Germany, here are the basics.

LAHNSTEIN, Peter : Auf den Spuren von Karl V. München 1979
Follows the emperor on his journey through life visiting the places he visited, trying to see what he saw. Written with a lot of sympathy for Karl, Lahnstein emphasises the “tragedy” of his life, the futility of his activities aimed at restoring an imagined former unity of the Reich, a former glory … Let me not forget to blog on Karl’s first travel to Spain and then to “Germany” (1517-1521), formative years for the young man, important years for the Reich, and a certain troublemaker called Martin Luther hangs around too.

HAAGE, Bernhard Dietrich : Alchemie im Mittelalter. Ideen und Bilder – von Zosimos bis Paracelsus. Zürich Düsseldorf 1996
Good readable overview, from the early beginnings of the art until late medieval times, ending with Paracelsus in the 16th century. HAAGE is an expert, no nonsense.

BREMM, Klaus-Jürgen : Die Schlacht. Waterloo 1815. Darmstadt 2015
Oberstleutnant BREMM is an expert for military history. He describes accurately what happened on this day ; why did it happen ; who were the actors, what are their backgrounds. Good readable – sadly a lot of typos. Very interesting, on any level : From the soldier on the ground to the general on the “Feldherrnhügel”. I must blog about it.
BTW the number of  typographical errors skyrocketed in the last years, simply because all the publishers think the machines will sort it out : They don’t, and it’s a shame.

AHLERS-HESTERMANN, Friedrich : Stilwende. Aufbruch der Jugend um 1900. Ungekürzte Ausgabe, Frankfurt/M. Berlin Wien 1981 (Ullstein-Buch Nr. 36063, Ullstein-Kunst-Buch), zuerst Berlin 1956
This text of the German painter AHLERS-HESTERMANN (1883-1973) is originally from 1941. It is a defence of what is summarily called “Jugendstil”, something that was treated as a mere footnote of the “high” art history by art historians right into the sixties of the last century. A.-H was there, he saw the paintings, the ameublement, the buildings when they were new, he knew many of the artists personally. He describes the awakening, the rise of the young(er) generation around 1900, the quest for new forms, the struggle against the ever repeating, seemingly endless circle of historism(s), neo-baroque, neo-gothic, neo what-ever – in the end the struggle against the beige rigour of the academic and bourgeoise fin-de-siecle, its ugliness and deformdness. The ever quest for beauty.

This last book is my actual read. Additionally by my bed lingers a thick tome :

WOLF, Hans-Jürgen : Geschichte der Druckverfahren. Historische Grundlagen, Portraits, Technologie. Elchingen 1992
A history of printing. I read this not in a linear way, but pick chapters I’m interested in, like f.e. the history of printing colour(s). Very technological, I use it for falling asleep. Again a lot of typos, ta !


Here we have it, stuff I read over the last two months. I mostly read in bed, pencil in hand, ready to write down titles of books mentioned that sound interesting, names of people I would like to know more about … am doing this for some time now. Not always with the desirable discipline – I am a lazy slug ! – but basically it’s what I do.
Once I wrote down and documented what I had read, title place year etc, with annotations. In pre-digital times it was easier because one received the grey piece of paper that was used for order & “Ausleihe”, there you already had noted all necessary bibliographical details. One hd crash later the list was gone – and rightly so ! After all it would only have been a kind of trophy list, braggish – I really do not need to re-write the excellent catalogues that already exist. And the fact that mago once read this title – oh dear … to echo blogger Happy Apathy : Who cares ?
I hope you find the list interesting, perhaps there is something that makes you go and Read More Books !

12 thoughts on “The Mistress Sent Me

  1. My school girl German has all but vanished and I don’t think I could read books in German.But they look(some, anyway) interesting, especially the printing one and the Wiedererwecking, which might, perhaps, be like Bococcio’s “Decameron”?
    Thank you for a fascinating list.

  2. Nice cross-section of book topics, btw.

    I think I would also find the printing book interesting. But like Dinah, I don’t think my German would be up to reading it. My German is less than Bild level.

    When I was shopping for a set of books in the Master & Commander series, there were a couple of versions to choose from. Some comments on one version noted lots of typos, no doubt due to automated machine scanning. Uggh.

  3. You’ve read quite an impressive amount of books with lots of contents. I’m most intrigued by the two books that talk about art, mostly because I love art and reading about it and getting to see fotos of it. Reading & seeing fotos of art is the next best thing when one can’t be in front of the actual art/architecture. I’m amazed at creativity and curious about other perspectives and views. It makes life so much more interesting.

  4. There may be a relation Dinahmow, but I think the differences are stronger than the connections. Boccaccio’s work is high literature, a book containing novellae, a genre of its own, while the facetiae are shorter than the short story, tell more or less funny jokes, aim to ridicule persons, habits etc. – but what connects them is the fact that they are alltogether possible . There is a publicum who reads and wants to read this. So they first of all learned to read, have time on their hands to do this – and they want to read worldly stuff, not a prayerbook or the bible. All this points towards a younger & urban auditorium. And : You need an author, scribbling as profession for all this lurdanes is a possibility now.

    There are tons of images in the printing book, from the first woodcuts depicting large wooden presses to blueprints of modern machines. I need these images, because the written description alone would leave me totally clueless LX.
    Yes I was pretty amazed about the number of typos and other mistakes. The printing book seemingly was not properly “lektoriert” & proof-read. Also the book about Waterloo has too many typos for my taste, what I find especially irking because it is brand new and published by the long-standing “Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft”. They should really put a bit more care into new titles.

    I barely read fortune-cookies dearest Norma, so on a larger scale it is all balanced out, I guess.

    I do not know whether Walser is translated Eroswings, Ahlers-Hestermann not, as far as I know. If you are interested in “Jugendstil” and co. you may find Nikolaus PEVSNER’s Pioneers of the Modern Movement: from William Morris to Walter Gropius interesting, first edition London 1936, later titled Pioneers of Modern Design.
    I found the series 1000 Meisterwerke (originally 100 materpieces, run from the 1980s into the 90s) very interesting, ten minutes each, in which a painting was explained. The German version was a copy of an originally British series Great Paintings from the 1950s. Sadly such a thing does not exist for buildings and interiors.

  5. An impressive list, Herr Mago!

    I must see if I can find an English translation of “Die Wiedererweckung des Lachens. Schwänke und Scherze aus dem sechzehnten Jahrhundert.”

    These “facetiae” show us that mankind has long appreciated bawdy humour. If blogging had been invented in Renaissance times, Infomaniac would have been required reading!

  6. Auf den Spuren von Karl V sounds interesting. But if time becomes an issue, why read the book when one can watch the opera?!

    A most fascinating collection of books, Mago.

  7. I doubt that such a translation exists Mistress. It is perhaps easier to look for translations of the single authors – I’ll make a list of them and what is cited in this small book.

    That would be an awesome opera IDV – mad women, political intrigue, war, treason, personal drama – from The Netherlands through the world to a monastery in Spain in less than sixty years : Ruler of the world, and back. I think the “back” was not the hardest part for him, after all he put down all his crowns volunteerily. He simply had enough.

    Ba – humbug ! You are a witty and intelligent beauty with a lot on the agenda, dearest MsScarlet, there is just no time for reading now in your busy life ! Especially with Charmaine and all these fertility symbols in your driveway …

  8. Sledding in the summer in Switzerland looks spectacular & fun! I’d like to do that, too! The only thing that would make it better if there were spectators ringing cowbells along the way & at the finish line!

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