"Rudi, Vanya, Rebecca, here we are a slice of Berlin life, another Ufa masterpiece, token La Bohème Student, token Slav, token Jewess, look at us: the Revolution. Of course there is no Revolution, not even in the Kinos, no German October , not under this “Republic.” The Revolution died—though Leni was only a young girl and not political—with Rosa Luxemburg. The best there is to believe in right now is a Revolution-in-exile-in-residence, a continuity, surviving at the bleak edge over these Weimar years, waiting its moment and its reincarnated Luxemburg. . . . AN ARMY OF LOVERS CAN BE BEATEN . These things appear on the walls of the Red districts in the course of the night. Nobody can track down author or painter for any of them, leading you to suspect they’re one and the same. Enough to make you believe in a folk-consciousness. They are not slogans so much as texts, revealed in order to be thought about, expanded on, translated into action by the people. . . ." Gravity's Rainbow
There are many references to Berlin in Gravity's Rainbow. Why does this matter? Well it interests me so I decided to add some quotes to my posts for GL V.
I am estatic to once again be able to Participate in German Literature Month, elegantly and lovingly hosted by Lizzi's Literary Live and Beauty is a Sleeping Cat. This is my fourth year as a participant. On the host blogs you will find the particularities of the event but the basic idea is to read literature first written in German (translated or not) and share your thoughts. I began accumulating works for the event soon after the event ended last year and I began reading for it in mid-September.
Works Read for G L V So Far
1. Every Man Dies Alone by Hans Fallada. A brilliant recreation of life in Nazi Germany.
2. Ostend, Stefan Zweig, Joseph Roth and the Summer Before the End by Volker Weidermann. A fascinating social history
3. Buddenbrook Ths Decline of a Family by Thomas Mann. Must reading
4. "The Governess" by Stefan Zweig
5. Demian: The Story of Emil Sinclair's Youth by Herman Hesse. Read the major works first.
6. The Tanners by Robert Walser. a serious work of art
7. The Hotel Years Wandering Between the Wars by Joseph Hoffman, a brilliant collection of feuilletons translated and introduced by Michael Hoffman
8. "The Dandelioln" by Wolfgang Borchert.
9. "The Foundling" by Heinrich Von Kleist
10. "A Conversation Concerning Legs" by Alfred Lichenstein
11. A Homage to Paul Celan
12. "The Criminal" by Veza Canetti
13. Rebellion by Joseph Roth. Between the wars
14. The Death of Virgil by Hermann Broch - an amazing work of art
15. The Artificial Silk Girl by Irmgard Keun. Sex and the City redone in the Weimer Republic
16. Wolf Among Wolves by Hans Fallada. A panoramic view of the Weimer Republic
17. Journey Into the Past by Stefan Zweig
Pushkin Press has been very instrumental in publishing the work of Stefan Zweig in translation. I salute them for this but I wish so much they would include in their collections date first published information. I really don't think, for example, that readers of his novella, Fear, should have to use Google to find first publication data.
Stefan Zweig was during his lifetime one of the best selling authors in the world and certainly the most translated from German. His 1925 novella Fear showed me why he was so popular. The narrative was so well done that I for sure felt the fear of the woman narrating the story. The central character is a married woman with a young son and daughter, her husband is a prosperous attorney. She lives a very comfortable worry free life. Being carried away one day by a lust for some excitement she starts an affair with a young handsome piano teacher. She is a very orderly woman has befits an upper class Viennese house wife and her liver becomes part of her well ordered routine, just as Sunday's are spent with her in laws, one afternoon a week is spent with her lover. Then something terrible and terrifying happens, a woman confronts her an accuses her of stealing her man. She demands money to keep silent about the affair. The blackmailers demands more and more, threatening to go to her husband. On one horrifying day the blackmailer shows up at her house, leaving with Frieda's wedding ring, telling her she will give her the pawn ticket. Things get very scary and exciting now. Frieda confronts her lover, who she has stopped seeing, and accuses him of being in conspiracy with the blackmailer. He tells her she is crazy.
I don't want to tell more of the exciting fear inducing plot. The ending was interesting and kind of fun. I was surprised but not shocked by the denouement of the blackmail plot but I did enjoy the close.
Fear is dramatic, some would say melodramatic. It is very insightful portrait of an adulterous woman. I enjoyed reading it. The description of the marriage and the woman's relationship to her children is superb.
There are five novellas in the collection, I have now read four of them. I will save the last one for another time.