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Vom Nachttisch Geräumt

Time to collect the books that are balancing in a heap on the bedside stand and to put them back into the shelves. Here is a list of the titles I read over the last few months.

FULD, Werner : Walter Benjamin. Eine Biographie. Reinbek September 1990 (zuerst : München, Wien 1979)
If one studies the intellectual European history of the last century, chances are good that one sooner or later meets Herrn W. BENJAMIN (Ger., Eng.). Or an image of BENJAMIN created by admirers or critics. Undoubtedly BENJAMIN is an important intellectual, but that does not mean that he always was recognised as one. Like other European writers of the first half of the bloody twentieth century he was forgotten after 1945, re-discovered, and of course en-grossed (vereinnahmt) by different people – the fact that his magnum opus (Passagenwerk, Arcades Project (Ger., Eng.)) is a ruin makes such an usurpation a lot easier. Interestingly a lot of interpretations & secondary literature was published about BENJAMINs works, but there was no biography until Werner FULD (Ger.) published the first one in 1979. And what a life it was. BENJAMIN was notoriously late – in all, an expert in missing chances & taking unneccessary detours. En passant FULD points to where BENJAMIN may have taken suggestions from, and who took (not necessarily mentioned) suggestions from BENJAMINs writings (STERNBERGER, who always denied it ; ADORNO, who said nothing). The last years were miserable in the Paris exile, he became severely ill. Finally he tried to flee over the Pyrenees. On the 12th of September 1940 young Golo MANN had pulled his old uncle Heinrich and his wife, accompanied by the married couples WERFEL & FEUCHTWANGER, over the mountains into Spain – BENJAMIN on the 26th was late, he and the group he travelled with learned that the border station was closed. So he sat down and swallowed the morphine tablets he had (25 from originally fifty, he had given the rest to Arthur KOESTLER), it seems not to be clear whether he died on that mountain or later in Port Bou. Someone bought a grave for him, but there was no marker, after five years it was cleared anyway. I find it remarkable that (according to FULD) BENJAMIN gave to one member of the group, a woman called Gurland, a farewell-letter to ADORNO : She read it and then burned it. Say chutzpà.

ANDRASCHKO, Ferdinand : Schloß Schwarzenberg im Wandel der Zeiten.
In : Schwarzenbergische Archive (Hg.) : Schwarzenbergischer Almanach XXXII (1959), Murau 1959 (133-242)
Just what it says in the title, a history of the castle Schwarzenberg (Ger.). I can not say much about Dr. ANDRASCHKO (about), I do not understand Czech. He worked for more than forty years in the archives of the Schwarzenberg family, his article is very well written.

HASENFUß, Josef ; ENGLERT, E.A.; SCHÜLL, G.S.H. ; ROOS, A. ; BILZ, O. : Hafenlohr, Windheim und Marienbrunn. Aus der Vergangenheit in die Gegenwart zur 650 Jahrfeier. Ohne Ort 1974
Just one of these small publications published in celebration of an anniversary, here 650 years Hafenlohr. And because HASENFUß (Ger.) and his contributors are professionals, it is a well researched little history of said village and its surroundings.

BÄCHLER, Hagen ; SCHLECHTE, Monika : Sächsisches Barock. Aus der Zeit von Matthes Daniel Pöppelmann. 3. Auflage, Leipzig 1990 (zuerst Leipzig 1986 ; Die Schatzkammer, Sonderband)
Someone who “likes” “the baroque” must look into the Saxonian works of arts, the “Dresdner Barock” (Ger.) especially. Most of this was built by Matthäus Daniel PÖPPELMANN (Ger., Eng.). BÄCHLER (Ger.) is a German art historian specialised in this field.

GROSCH, Wilhelm : Blaufuss. Ein Dorf der Gold- und Münzstadt Kremnitz. Entstehung, Untergang und Neubeginn. Stuttgart 1996
Kremnica (Ger., Eng.), German Kremnitz, is a mining town in Middle or Central Slovakia. In the Middle Ages and Early Modern Period it was an important gold mining area. I think there still is mining. The town incorporated some villages, one of these was called Blaufuß (“blue foot”), today Krahule (Ger., Eng.). Herr GROSCH was born in this village in 1932 and published the history of his native place.

WIRSING, Karl-Heinz : Geselligkeit im Würzburg des Biedermeier. Mainfränkische Hefte 73 (1980)
A little history of the social life of Würzburg in the first half of the 19th century. “Biedermeier” (Ger., Eng.) is the time between 1815 and 1848, between the new organisation of Europe at the Viennese Congress, it’s “restauration”, and the revolutionary activities of the 1840s. This age of political stagnation in Central Europe produced a style of its own in the arts, home decoration etc. WIRSING (1907-1999 ; Ger.) was a Franconian art historian specialised in the history of his hometown.

KUHN, Rudolf : St.Achatius zu Grünsfeldhausen. Würzburg 1964
The church of St.Achatius (Ger.) in the village Grünsfeldhausen is an octogonal building that dates back into the 12th or 13th century. It is pretty likely built by a noble person, a knight, who took part in the crusades (most likely the third, (Ger., Eng.)) and had seen the Grabeskirche, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (Ger., Eng., tour) in Jerusalem. This kind of architecture is not too common, and it is pretty unique that in a small area four of these octogonal churches can be found, with those in Oberwittighausen and Standorf still standing, while the one in Gaurettersheim sadly was demolished.

SCHÄFER, Werner : Straubing im Ersten Weltkrieg. Ein Beitrag zur Vorgeschichte der Revolution von 1918/19 in Bayern. In : Beiheft zum Jahresbericht des Historischen Vereins für Straubing und Umgebung, 80 (1977/78)
Yes, there was a revolution in Germany after the end of WWI, Bavaria became a “Räterepublik”. But what was before ? How did people live, what fuelled the tension that finally erupted into revolutionary action ? Straubing (Ger., Eng.) is a provincial town in Lower Bavaria next to the Danube river. Nothing fancy, really. But one of the first towns in Bavaria where the Novemberrevolution (Ger., Eng.) took part, they must have been really fed up – or precisely not, but hungry and damn angry. And Herr SCHÄFER, about whom I could not find more information, describes how it came together. A microhistory.

GOEZ, Werner : Gestalten des Hochmittelalters. Personengeschichtliche Essays im allgemeinhistorischen Kontext. Darmstadt 1983
The first time I understood why bishop Adalbero of Würzburg was important. History is made by people, humans act. I think it is more important to learn as much as possible about those who acted – how, when and why – than to speak about abstract ideas that may have made someone come to a decision, or not. Of course it depends on the sources, and their critique. And one needs a broader knowledge of time and age, of the whole æra the historical person lived in. The professor for Medieval History Werner GOEZ (Ger.) was such a man with an overview, and he wrote nicely. GOEZ (1929-2003) was first professor in Würzburg and then from 1969 until 1997 in Erlangen.

Perhaps you can find something interesting or motivational for own study ; if not, excuse me for boring you stiff.

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Aufräum’

Zeit zum Aufräum’. So the smallish pile of books needs to be attacked – smallish, tiny, ach … In no special order follow titles of books I read since the last list was published sometime in September.

Aperture Masters of Photography : Manuel Alvarez Bravo. Cologne 1997
Nicely done reproductions of ALVAREZ BRAVOs (Ger., Eng., Getty)  b/w photographs. A small tome with an essay by A.D. COLEMAN (Eng.). No special reason, I just wanted to look at good photography.
The same goes for another volume of the mentioned series :

Aperture Masters of Photography : Paul Strand. Cologne 1997
With an essay by Mark HAWORTH-BOOTH (Eng., website). I always admired Paul STRAND (Ger., Eng., Heilbrunn), somewhere around here is his New England book. Just look and enjoy.

DEUERLEIN, Ernst G. ; PAULUS, Herbert ; WILHELM, Hermann : Beiträge zur Kunstpflege in Erlangen. 50 Jahre Kunstverein Erlangen 1904-1954. Erlangen 1954
Erlangen (Ger., Eng.) is a city in Middle Franconia. There are no special things to know about Erlangen. Of course interested citizens founded an art society, and after ups & downs they presented themselves and the rest of the world with a festschrift for the fifty year jumbilee. Here it is.

SPROTTE, Bernhard : Geleit im Tauberland. Als Nünberger Kaufleute zur Frankfurter Messe zogen. Wertheim 1973 (Veröffentlichungen d. Historischen Vereins Wertheim, 1)
Merchants need to go to the market. Large markets were held through the Middle Ages right into Early Modern Times in free cities, like Frankfurt am Main, Nürnberg, Augsburg, and others. To travel safe merchants formed convoys and bought an escort from local rulers. For these domini terrae it was a good business ; fares, taxes and of course the segments where who had the right to escort, were fixed, but nevertheless disputed from time to time.
The valley of the Tauber is a natural East-West connection for travelling merchants. Also there were turnings towards Würzburg, in generally Northern direction, and to the South, generally in direction of the very rich Augsburg. SPROTTE, about whom I could find nothing more, depicts these aspects of the local history (of traffic, of commerce, of public safety) in a clear and even entertaining way. Of course it is only interesting for a local historian, and / or for someone who knows the area and places.

GOMBRICH, Ernst H.: Die Krise der Kulturgeschichte. Gedanken zum Wertproblem in den Geisteswissenschaften. München, September 1991
(zuerst : Ideals and Idols, Oxford 1979)
Damn, I wish I had read this twenty or more years ago. I always thought of GOMBRICH (Ger., Eng., archive) as an art historian – yes he is this too, but he is a cultural historian. I will not repeat here what Sir Ernst has thought, written & discussed in his unique way. This book, or better these articles published in one tome, are still today definitely worth a read, and thought or two.

WEIGAND, Waldemar : Das Königliche Spiel. Eine kulturgeschichtliche Studie. Berlin 1959
It is a small history of chess, with the emphasis of the origins. Simply nice. Could find nothing more on Mr WEIGAND.

GLENDINNING, Victoria : Edith Sitwell. 1. Auflage dt., Frankfurt (am Main) 1995
(zuerst : Edith Sitwell. A Unicorn Among Lions. 1981. Übersetzt von Karl A. KLEWER)
Edith (Ger., Eng.) and her brothers, reviled and revered. I think Ms GLENDINNING (Ger., Eng.) did an outstanding good biography of Ms SITWELL. She never ridicules her, never puts her on a piedestal, no worship, no bashing, but a clear view on this unique lady. Even if you are not especially interested in English poetry, or the intrigues etc. – just follow this strange person through her life, I find it terribly interesting.

That’s it. Maybe you found something interesting, and hence will start reading ?

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Books. Again

If there is nothing else to do but cough & wheeze, I can at least put that heap of books back into the shelves.
Here is the list of books I read since the last list from end of July. If you should be interested, the earlier posts are tagged “books”, of course.

RAGON, Michel : Ästhetik der zeitgenössischen Architektur. Neuchâtel (Ch) 1968 (Kunst des 20. Jahrhunderts. Edited by Marcel JORAY)
RAGON (Ger.) (born 1924) is a French intellectual whose œvre contains fiction and non-fiction, from modern architecture (exhibition) via historical social movements to a dictionary of anarchy.
The message of this book is simple and can be condensed into one sentence : Concrete is great !
He writes a hymn about LeCORBUSIER and other modernists who built white cubes : MIES van der ROHE, NEUTRA, WRIGHT, SAARINEN, NIEMEYER, CANDELA, TANGE. Some of the architecture is undeniably great, while other pieces may have stood the test of time not so well. Anyway, the b/w photographs in this book are generally very good, always a pleasure to look at.
Marcel JORAY (1910-1996) founded the publishing house Editions du Griffon in 1950 and was the editor of a series about modern art – he organised the first Swiss exhibition of abstract painting in 1957. In 1977 he edited a book about concrete in contemporary art.

Sizilien. Reisebilder aus drei Jahrhunderten. Edited by Ernst OSTERKAMP. München 1986
For the armchair traveller. From RIEDESEL’s (It.) trip (1767), a friend and scholar of WINCKELMANN, to the top of the Aetna, to Ernst JÜNGER and the Swiss author Gerold SPAETH in the 1970s – impressions of Sicily collected by Ernst OSTERKAMP. With additional material about the authors. Nicely done.

Reisen in Nippon. Berichte deutscher Forscher des 17. und 19. Jahrunderts aus Japan. Collected & introduced by Herbert SCURLA. 6. Auflage, Berlin 1990
This tome collects reports about travels in Japan by Engelbert KAEMPFFER, Georg Heinrich von LANGSDORFF and Philip Franz von SIEBOLD.
SCURLA (Ger., Eng.) lived through two German dictatorships & showed a certain ability to adapt.

Caroline de la Motte FOUQUÉ. Geschichte der Moden 1785-1829. Als Beitrag zur Geschichte der Zeit. After the original from 1829-1830 edited by Dorothea BÖCK. Berlin 1988
Caroline was the wife of the oh-so-romantic poet & writer Friedrich de la MOTTE FOUQUÉ – for both of them it was their second marriage. She was not untalented, but in a certain sense never emancipated herself as a writer from models, “prototypes”, notably her second husband, who had been a successful writer, but fell out of favour and could not re-connect to earlier success. She had to write for money and did so in the Journal des Luxus und der Moden (Ger.), a very unique source. Her history of fashion is possibly the text where she is the most at herself.
About the editor, Frau Dr. BÖCK, I could not find out more.

GERARDI, Gertrud : Bilder aus Franken. Eine Auswahl von Bildern aus der Fränkischen Sontagspost der Nürnberger Nachrichten. Nürnberg 1960
Just black/white pictures of a Franconia long gone. GERARDI (Ger.) was an important German press photographer in the 1950s and 1960s. She documented the rebuilding of Nuremberg.

GRIESINGER, Peter : Biberach an der Riss. Ein Gang durch Vergangenheit und Gegenwart einer alten Reichsstadt. Fotos von Hans Klose. Biberach/Riss 1967 (?)
Just another of those books of only local interest. Nicely done, text well researched, good photography. Found nothing about author & photographer.

SCHÄFER, Hans-Peter : Die Anfänge der fränkischen Eisenbahn. Würzburg 1985
Very well done history not only of the origins of the Franconian railway, but gives an introduction into the Bavarian travel & transport planning of the 19th century. I could not find more about SCHÄFER. He seemingly was the head of the ill-fated “Unterfränkische Verkehrmuseum” that existed between circa 1988 and 1999 in Gemünden / Main.

Klassischer Journalismus. Die Meisterwerke der Zeitung. Collected & edited by Egon Erwin KISCH. 1. Auflage, Berlin 1982
A classic by E.E. KISCH (Eng.). Here as part of the complete edition of KISCH’s works by the old Aufbau-Verlag. This is the new one.

Perhaps some of these titles are inspiring your own reading.

 

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Buch, Buch und nochmal Buch …

Time to clean up and tidy the appartement. But it is soo damn humid that even walking from the desk to the fridge leaves me dripping from sweat. I hear rumble in the distance, hopefully a little thunder & lightning will clean the atmosphere. No action with the vacuum cleaner, tomorrow is another day.
But the heap of books – this can be done without any suffering. So here is a little list of books I’ve read since the last one from end of May.

PÜTTER, Conrad : Deutsche Emigranten und britische Propaganda. Zur Tätigkeit deutscher Emigranten bei britischen Geheimsendern. In : Exil in Großbritannien. Zur Emigration aus dem nationalsozialistischen Deutschland. Edited by Gerhard HIRSCHFELD (Publications of the German Historical Institute London, 14), 1. Aufl., Stuttgart 1983, 106-137
Very informative. Gives an interesting glimpse into the organisation of the British secret radio operations during WWII, be it white, grey or black propaganda. PÜTTER, about whom I could find no additional information, specialised in the topic. He edited a handbook about German-speaking radio activities through WWII (Rundfunk gegen das „Dritte Reich“. Deutschsprachige Rundfunkaktivitäten im Exil 1933–1945. Ein Handbuch (Rundfunkstudien, 3), München u. a. 1986) and contributed to other on-topic publications.

CASSOU, Jean : Picasso. (Aus dem Französischen von Ute GARROTE), Paris 1958
Jean CASSOU (1897-1986) (Ger., Eng., Fr.) had something like the archetypical life of a French intellectual in the 20th century. After WWII he became the first director of the newly found Musée National d’Art Moderne (Ger., Eng.) (until 1965), and he should have something to say about Picasso. He had, he did, the result is this little essay.

SWIFT, Jonathan : Satiren. Mit einem Essay von Martin WALSER (insel taschenbuch, 131), 1. Aufl., Frankfurt / Main 1975
Should read the original, really.

Mittelalterezeption. Texte zur Aufnahme altdeutscher Litertaur in der Romantik. Herausgegeben, eingeleitet und mit einer weiterführenden Bibliographie versehen von Gerard KOZIELEK (Deutsche Texte, 47), 1. Aufl., Tübingen 1977
As we know, the idea, the image of the “Middle Ages”, is a product of romanticism, as are the “sciences” “History” and “Germanistik” / “Germanistic studies” (and in between them, their wayward bastard, Deutsche Volkskunde). But who received or adapted what ? This little volume collects the most important texts by TIECK, SCHLEGEL, von ARNIM, GÖRRES, W. & J. GRIMM, and UHLAND, from 1803 to 1831.
About KOZIELEK I could not find much information. He is a “Germanist”, born in Breslau perhaps in 1928. At least he received a “Festschrift” for his 65th birthday in 1993, but I could not find a biographical article online.
I should have read this twenty-five years earlier.

BRÜHL, Georg : Vertiko und Chaiselongue. Deutsche Möbel der Gründerzeit. Leipzig 1992
This little volume collects designs for ameublement chosen & collected from a “Musterbuch” (Ger.) of the 19th century. These designs belong to what is called “Historismus” (Ger., Eng.). The little book reproduces drafts and gives a little text about each. Nice. What is depicted is all that stuff the next generation (those “Lebensreformers” and “Wandervögel” of 1900) will happily throw out ; the next generation that will venerate clear rectangular forms, clear colours, filigree designs preferably from metal and abhors dark wooden monster pieces, windows covered in thick curtains, everything pseudo-folksy – you get the idea.
BRÜHL (Ger.) was an important art historian, museologist and collector in the GDR.

HAFFMANNS, Gerd (Ed.) : Über William Faulkner (Diogenes Taschenbuch, 14), Zürich 1973
Material collection about FAULKNER. What had writers to say about his work, and about single texts. Contains his Nobel speech, a lengthy interview from 1957, timetable. Interesting to see what colleagues had to say about him, what he had to say about writing.

STEVENSON, Robert Louis : Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes and An Inland Voyage. Köln 1997
Grab a small bag, and march off. Avoid to sleep under cork oaks, there are rats. Remember, the Cevennen (Ger., Eng.) can be rough. If you want to follow Mr STEVENSON, look here.

That’s it. Perhaps a title is an invitation for you for further exploration.

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