Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

"The Lunatic" by Georg Heym (1913)


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 

"The Lunatic" by Georg Heym (1887 to 1912, born in Lower Silesia, died from drowning while trying to save a friend who had fallen through the ice on a frozen lake) is an amazing look at the mind of a man just released from three or four years, he is not sure how long, of confinement in a mental asylum .  We are inside his mind as he walks free. He believes those who died in the asylum were ground into sausage and fed to the inmates.  He thinks of a guard he would love to put in the sausage grinder.  He was confined in the asylum after beating his wife, which he feels is a husband's right.  He is on a mission to take revenge on her.  As he walks the streets he either imagines he kills two children by bashing in their heads or he really does.  He imagines how wonderful it would be to mash the skull of an old man that passes by.

When he gets to his old house, the name on the door has been changed.  At first he thinks perhaps his wife moved then he feels she must be trying to hide from him.  He ends up breaking down the door. He sees a rat running wildly around the kitchen wall and he knows that must his wife trying to fool him. He kills the rat with a frying pan.  Now the story gets really really weird.  I won't spoil it for you but it really is a brilliant done realization of the mind of the lunatic. In one poignant moment on his walk he both feared and wished he would be sent back to the asylum.

I read "The Lunatic" in Tales of the German Imagination, selected, introduced and translated by Peter Wortsman.  I totally endorse this book.  

Heym wrote seven short stories but while living published only poetry.  His short stories were first published in 1913.  All are said to be about minds pushed to the edge.  "Dissection", which you can read online at the link I provided, is about a man who seems to wake up while being dissected and calmly observed the procedure.

Mel von ü


Jonathan said...

What!? Wow! I've never heard of him but this sounds great. I think I'm going to have to get the short story book as well as the 'German Imagination' one. Thanks Mel.

Ximena said...

In with Jonathan--wow!

Thank you for posting this, I am currently re-focusing my own blog around expression through movement and looking to draw from Expressionism. This gives me a good sense of what to explore. :)