Book Report

It’s about time for the bi-monthly book-thingy, as it is requested by Our Lady of the Stripey Pantyhose (see the chapel here in picture seven).


In May I had two weeks off and felt the need to spend my time reading on the sofa. For reasons that are not clear to me I wanted to re-read Arno SCHMIDTs (Ger., Eng.) Kaff oder Mare Crisium. There exists an English translation (Boondocks / Moondocks) by John E. WOODS (Ger., Eng.), who is actually finishing the translation of the monumental Zettel’s Traum (Ger., Eng.) (Respekt !). After this, he announced, he will regard his work as finished. The English summary of the work in the linked wikipedia-article is as concise as it can be :

The novel is set in 1968 at 4 AM in the Lüneburg Heath in northeastern Lower Saxony in northern Germany. It follows the lives of Daniel Pagenstecher, visiting translators Paul Jacobi and his wife Wilma, and their teenage daughter Franziska. The story is concerned with the problems of translating Edgar Allan Poe into German.

Boring stuff y’know.
I own the Zürcher Kassette. Das erzählerische Werk in 8 Bänden mit Beiheft, Zürich 1985 (Haffmanns) (zweite Auflage, sigh !, here’s a link to that book-moloch) – and as it is with Arno, I could not stop and read the other stuff too.

As an antidote I escaped in the world of Toni UNGERERs (Ger., Eng.) early children books featuring family Mellops, a happy family of pigs. The first book in the series was published 1957, The Mellops Go Flying. (German article with a Mellops illustration. UNGERER gives his hobbies as “my wife and butchering”.)
But UNGERERs happy Schweinerei was not enough, I needed a stronger escape : Away to The Islands of the Deaf, to Pasta, Nadorp – from Achterdijk to Yteke I travelled the world of Donald EVANS :

EISENHART, Willy : The World of Donald Evans. 2. Auflage,  NewYork London Paris 1994 (Erstausgabe NewYork 1980)
SCHMIDT was a Wortweltenbauer, a builder of worlds made from words, and words only. He experimented with new forms (see his Berechnungen, calculations) and with the very “atoms” of words (“Ethyms”). EVANS (Eng., artnet) created a total new world in his imagination, with different countries, areas, histories – grabbed his watercolours and painted the stamps of these countries, putting it all together in a Catalogue of the World. Nearly four thousand before his untimely death in a fire in Amsterdam at the age of thirty-one on 29th of April 1977.
His death “in a fire in Amsterdam” pricks me a bit. Sadly my Netherlandic is too bad to understand a written text, and besides I would not know where to look, a newspaper of course – but which one ? Is there accidentally a Netherlandish reader with a little too much time at her / his hands ? I would very much like to know what has happened in “a house on the Stadhouderskade“. Sadly it is not possible to ask EISENHART, the mentioned editor of the only book about EVANS, who wrote the only biographical sketch about the artist, because EISENHART (Eng.) is also dead, he fell from the roof of his house at the age of forty-eight in 1995, while CHADWIN died in January 1989.
As I may have mentioned here already, I like small things in general. EVANS’ stamps, postcards, his catalogue of the world, all this is a marvellous escape, tools for wonderful travel.


Non Fiction

GLEBA, Gudrun : Klosterleben im Mittelalter. Darmstadt 2004
The author inquires after the requirements and foundations that lead to the formation of communities of believers who outside existing societies, how they created their own “Lebensform”, about the conditions of acceptance or non-acceptance in society, the political implications, the position of the monastic form of living within the social network of the Western society. So it is not a chronological history of monastic life in the West, but a kind of social history. The author uses a broad basis of source materials and pays special attention to the beginning of the monastic idea in the East and its spread out to the West. I find her book very interesting and insightful.
On the cover is only mentioned that Ms GLEBA is “Privatdozentin” / private lecturer (2004), but there is no name of an university given. I found that she is actually at the university of Rostock.

SUERBAUM, Ulrich : Das elisabethanische Zeitalter. Stuttgart 1989 (Universal-Bibliothek Nr. 8622 [7] )
History is “made”, always a new : Every generation looks at “history” and writes it new, asks other questions, puts the emphasis on another factor – it’s a bit like a kaleidoscope (Ger., Eng.), always the same always new, endless. From this follows that a “Fach”, a field of study, is always defined by its own history too (Das Fach ist auch immer die Geschichte des Fachs).
Prof. emeritus Ulrich SUERBAUM (born 1926, Ger.) was an anglicist at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum, the first “ordentliche” professor at this newly founded university, from 1963 until his retirement 1992. His book about the age of the first Elisabeth is a very nice to read insightful cultural history with special emphasis on the self-understanding of the people of the æra and the use later generations made of these times, how a part (at least) of English self-understanding was formed by this part of history.

Perhaps you find something interesting for you, venerated readers, then this scribble is not totally vain showing-off.

9 thoughts on “Book Report

  1. I think I am now in love with Donald Evans – found this on Wikipedia….

    Chatwin’s admiration was effusive: “By common consent, the art of the drop-out generation is a mess — and the art of Donald Evans is the antithesis of mess. Nor is it niggling. Nor is it precious. Yet I can’t think of another artist who expressed more succinctly and beautifully the best aspirations of those years: the flight from war and the machine; the asceticism; the nomadic restlessness; the yearning for sensual cloud-cuckoo-lands; the retreat from public into private obsessions, from the big and noisy to the small and still.”

    Thank you for introducing me!

  2. Oh, the lovely Ms Scarlet beat me to it! Yes, I will now be off on trail for Evans, too.
    Still trying to catch up with thing here, but yesterday at the library, I grabbed (no considered selection!) some books and one is by Julian Clary, the delightfully camp comedian.

  3. I’m intrigued about the happy pigs & their adventures. Who knew pigs could fly? Thanks for sharing.

    I’m also fascinated by the history book. I like history. I also like books on sociology & anthropology. People & places are interesting.

  4. Sorry Dinahmow, Mr J. Clary is unknown to me.
    All things will get sorted, I’m sure.

    There is a vehicle involved LẌ, a kind of Kabinenroller, chauffeured by the main female character. The author / storyteller / male main character has no driver’s licence and is generally not a “handyman”. Käfers do not show up, only once big Opels are mentioned.

    I try to be as childish as possible, sometimes, dearest Mistress.

    I think there are five adventures of the Mellops’ family Eroswings.
    Perhaps the books of Mr Chadwin would be interesting for you, Leigh Fermor maybe too.

  5. Oh my GOd – the poor sod had no chance ! One kilometer and he starts the escape – just to be stopped by such a stupid thing. I only hope he was not hurt too much.

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