Tag: cats


Some moons ago Melanie gave a quick outline of an idea for a text, persons shapeshifting into cats would feature – if I knew something ?
Well, not much. There is of course the motif of a person, usually a woman, who turns into a cat, saied cat gets hurt while roaming around, and in the next morning the person is found with a matching wound, be it a broken leg, a hurt back or where ever the cat was hit. This dates back to Gervasius Tilberiensis (Ger., Eng.), late 12th century that is. A motif found around witches, sorceresses, maleficae. This would be a Werkatze (Ger., Eng.) – “wer” in this connection is not “wer = who”, but an older word meaning “man”.
I looked into my usual sources, but the Deutsche Wörterbuch  (DWB) (Ger., Eng., link) does not know the lemma “Werkatze”, under “Katze”, turning into a cat is mentioned, but not specially treated.
The Handwörterbuch des deutschen Aberglaubens (HdA) (Ger. only) mentions the shapeshifting  cat / human (Band 4, Spalte 1117 f., unter “Katze, 9”) and refers to “Hexe [witch] 3, 1871 f.”, where additional examples are listed. The HdA is outdated and only as reference for source materials usable. The actual lexicon is the Enzyklopädie des Märchens (EM) (Ger., Eng., help for using it online, but its German only anyway), in volume 7, 1099-1109, the cat is treated, but the article brings no new material.
Then I remembered a little book by Sergius GOLOWIN, Das Geheimnis der Tiermenschen. Von Vampiren, Nixen, Werwölfen und ähnlichen Geschöpfen (The Secret of “animal-men” [?]. About Vampires, Mermaids, Werewolves and Similar Creatures), Basel 1993. GOLOWIN (Ger., Eng.) (1930-2006) was a kind of leading figure of the counterculture in Switzerland since the sixties. A librarian by trade he discovered the (magic) literature of the Early Modern Period for himself (in the 1950s when absolutely no one, with the possible exception of Arno SCHMIDT, was interested in this old Plunder, rubbish, clobber), put this together with stories and fairy tales he was told by his Ukrainian grandmother, and developed a keen interest in magic, drugs, and whatnot. Very interesting person – and he wrote a book about cats : Göttin Katze – Das magische Tier an unserer Seite (Goddess Cat, the Magic Animal at Our Side), 1989. As it seems there is no English translation, perhaps an Italian one (Gatto, amico, mago, 2005). But I am sorry, I have not read the book.
In the end I think all necessary can be found in the already mentioned articles about the Werkatze.

Schwobe’ …

On my desk lies a small book titled Kleine Schriften zur deutschen Literatur im 17. Jahrhundert, Amsterdam 1977 (Beihefte zum Daphnis 1; also Daphnis vol. 6, nr. 4, 1977) by the great Leonard FORSTER (1913-1997) (obituary), one of the eminent scholars of German and Renaissance studies of the 20th century. Strangely there is no Wikipedia article about him, nor German nor English.
One of FORSTER’s main subjects of research was Georg Rudolph WECKHERLIN (1584-1653) (Ger., Eng.), poet and statesman.
WECKHERLIN was a Suebian, born in Stuttgart. He was a kinsman of the English court, from 1626 until shortly before his death he held important positions in the English administration, mainly as secretary of the state secretary – I am not familiar with the names of the ranks:  It is what we today would call the department of foreign affairs. Minister or secretaries came and went, WECKHERLIN stayed, for 25 years. He reached the rank of a Latin Secretary, his successor was another poet, John MILTON (1608-1674) (Ger., Eng.).
WECKHERLIN’s father was an official at the court of Wuerttemberg (Ger., Eng.), and his son was meant to follow him. From 1606 onwards we find young Rudolph in the entourage of Suebian diplomats on travels through Europe, in France, England and Italy. On one of these travels he met Elisabeth, the daughter of the Town clerk of Dover (Ger., Eng. ) (“Doof, Dover, Calais”), his later wife. He is abroad until 1615 an shortly after his return to Stuttgart he shows up as poet. He makes poems on persons of interest and influence, helps to organize the festivities for the baptismal of Prince Friedrich von Wurttemberg (Ger., Eng.) etc. – what the humanist has to do at court. He receives a fixed position as secretarius and court historiographer, and again serves in diplomatic affaires. He shows a remarkable talent for foreign languages.
After the outbreak of the Thirty-Years-War Rudolph goes to England, he will stay there from 1619 until his death 1653. He seems to have quit the Wuerttembergian and to have joined the kurfürstlich pfälzischen service – that is Heidelberg, the Palatinate (Ger., Eng.). 1627 he is in English service for the first time.
He is 43 years old, a skilful and experienced diplomat with special knowledge in the area of  “German”, especially palatine politics. The main aim of English foreign politics in this time is to restore the rule of the unfortunate Winterkönig Friedrich V. (Ger., Eng.), married to a sister of the English king, Elisabeth Stuart (Ger., Eng.). In the beginning of the war a front of the Protestant powers had been formed, but this alliance has been destroyed by the Emperor and the Spaniards, England seemed to be the last hope for the Protestant case.
Around 1622, when Wurttemberg took an exit out of the Protestant Union (Ger., Eng.) WECKHERLIN joined the palatinate services; after 1626 – the year count Peter Ernst von  Mansfeld (Ger., Eng.) died and the palatinate power only existed on paper and in emigration – he turnes towards England; he shows idealistic loyalty towards Protestantism, not too common in the 17th century.
Rudolph had lived for eight years in Dover and Canterbury, but now he goes to London. He is confirmed in his office and will keep it until 1641, when the civil war (Ger., Eng.) starts.
In this crucial situation WECKHERLIN decides against his upcoming, against his höfische Erziehung and his whole way of living (Er ist ein Hofmann!) in favour of the Parliament. But first he tries to find an exit and turns towards the European Protestant powers, like Sweden, Kurland, Wuerttemberg, offering his services as consul or representative – he is not accepted. So in 1643 he takes the side of the Parliament (Ger., Eng.) and in February 1644 becomes secretary of the Committee of Both Kingdoms (Eng.). Shortly after the execution of the king (Ger., Eng.; 1649, the French did it 144 years later, 1793) he asks for his demission of office. He is shortly reactivated when MILTON takes over.
From his marriage with Elizabeth RAWORTH origin a son and a daughter. His son follows the king into exile and only returns to England after his father’s death, he has no children. The daughter marries a William TRUMBULL (?) in 1638, her first son of the same name also becomes a diplomat and plays an important role in the literary life of the early 18th century. In the Hausarchiv of these descendants a lot of papers, letters and other source materials of the German-English poet and statesman WECKHERLIN were found – by FORSTER in the 1940s ! Strangely enough I find no mention of this, nor in FORSTER’s obituary, nor in the very short articles about WECKHERLIN.
FORSTER btw was a colleague of George Smiley, whom he met in Tuebingen and Koenigsberg in the 1930s, when they both were teaching at German universities; they seemingly met later in the war (maybe in hut 6 or 8, but it’s not confirmed).

purrr …

I always liked cats. In the last week or so some posts about cats appeared (Jay, LGS).
I just want to link to this. Maybe the old Egyptians were right to meet them with veneration. Somewhere in Hitchhiker’s Guide appears an old man in a hut who tries to understand his cat. Just came to my mind …