Two Short Stories by the author of Jakob the Lier, Juret Becker
There are still several days left in German Literature Month IV. Lots of time left to participate. There are already over a hundred posts, reading through them is much like a fine class in German literature at a top academy.
Works I have so far read for German Literature Month 2014
1. Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
2. Gertrude by Hermann Hesse
3. "Diary of a School Boy" by Robert Walser (no post)
4. Steppenwolf by Herman Hesse
5. Burning Secret by Stefan Zweig 1925
6. Life Goes On by Hans Keilson
7. Comedy in a Minor Key by Hans Keilson
8. "The Wall" by Jurek Becker
9. "Romeo" by Jurek Becker
10. "The Invisible City" by Jurek Becker.
11. Wittgenstein's Nephew by Thomas Bernhard
12. "Dostoevsky's Idiot" by Robert Walser
13. "French Newspapers" by Robert Wasler
14. Jakob the Lier by Jurek Becker
15. The Trial by Franz Kafka 1915,
16. "The Seamstress" by Rainer Maria Rilke 1894
17. "The Experiement or the Victory of Children" by Unica Zürn 1950
18. "The Star Above the Forest" by Stefan Zweig. 1924
19. "Saint Cecilia or the Power of Music" by Heinrich von Kleist 1810
20. Amok by Stefan Zweig 1923
21. Concrete 1982
22. "Kleist in Thun" by Robert Walser 1913
23. "Incident at Lake Geneva" by Stefan Zweig (1924)
24. "The Governess" by Stefan Zweig 1927
25. "The Sandman" by E. T. A. Hoffmann 1817
26. "The Secrets of the Princess of Kagran" by Ingeborg Bachmann 1971
27. "Twilight" by Stefan Zweig 1928
28. "The Lunatic" by Georg Heym 1913
29. "Dissection" by Georg Heym 1913 - no post
30. "Blackbird" by Robert Musil
31. "The Kiss" by Robert Walser 1914. - no post
Last week I read and posted on three intriguing stories by Jurek Becker, all translated by his wife in their first appearance in English in the just published collection, The Wall and other Stories by Jurek Becker. Becker was born in Poland, after the war he and his family moved to the GDR (East Germany) where many felt Jews were more welcome. (1937 to 1997). He stayed in the GDR when many Holocaust survivors left for America or Palestein. Much of his fiction focuses on the Holocaust. I then read and posted on his wonderful Jakob the Lier is set in the Lodz Ghetto in Poland during the time of the Nazi occupation. At the time Lodz was second only to Warsaw as the city with the highest Jewish population. Becker was born there.
"The Suspect". 1980, published in translation in 2014
"The Suspect" feels like it is set in East Germany. It almost feels like a deliberate creation of a Kafkaesque story. A man begins to think he is being followed, observed by the secret police. He has nothing but his suspicions to substantiate this. He begins to go out of his way to act totally normal.
At his job he works hard, but not too hard. He fears his girl friend may have informed on him so he drops her. Nothing happens, no revelations, no conclusions.
"The Most Popular Family Story". 1981, published in translation in 2014
This is a very funny delightful story. We are at a big family gathering. Uncle Gideon is getting ready to tell a family story. Becker Does a very good job of describing the big family gathering. As Uncle Gideon starts his story, everybody has heard it before, we learn he does not like traveling but went to London for seven days to buy machinery for the family factory. He does not like the English food and cannot locate a Kosher restaurant. The man he bought the machinery from insists on taking him around London. Then the man tells Gideon that he needs Gideon to fill in for him at a costume party as he has a business scheduling conflict. Gideon buys himself an elaborate clown outfit and makes up his face. The party is at a large mansion. He is the first to arrive. The host is in formal attire. Compressing a lot, it is not a costume party but a formal dinner party for London's elite. There Uncle Gideon sits, wanting to kill the man who sent him their in a clown outfit. This is a very funny, warm hearted family story I liked a lot.
Both stories were translated by Justin Becker.
Mel von ü