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

Monday, November 27, 2017

“Siegelmann’s Journey”. - A Short Story by Johannes Urzidil- 1962-translated from German by David Burnett-2016-Included in the Last Bell

“Johannes Urzidil is the Last great troubadour of a long lost Prague” - Max Brod

Works I Have So Far Read for German Literature Month, November, 2017

  1. “You’d Have Larvae Too” by Nora Wagener, 2016
  2. Vertigo by W. G. Sebald, 1990
  3. The Last Weynfeldt by Martin Suter, 2006
  4. “An Earthquake in Chile” by Heinrich Von Kleist, 1809
  5. Who is Martha? by Marjana Gaponenko, 2012
  6. “The Legal Haziness of Marriage” by Olga Grjasnowa, 2015
  7. “Aladdin, COB” by Isabelle Lehn, 2015
  8. “The Last Bell” by Johannes Urzidil, 1968
  9. The Rings of Saturn by W. G. Sebald, 1995
  10. Late Fame by Arthur Schnitzler, written 1892, published 2016
  11. Blood Brothers by Ernst Haffner, 1933
  12. Berlin Alexanderplatz by Alfred Döblin, 1929
  13. Confessions of a Murderer by Joseph Roth, 1936
  14.   “Compulsion” by Stefan Zweig,  1929
  15. “Borderlands”by Johannes Urzidil, 1956 (no post)
  16. “A School Boy’s Diary” by Robert Walser, 1910 (no post
  17. Austerlitz by W. G. Sebald, 2001, Second Reading 
  18. “The Duchess of Albanera” by Johannes Urzidil, 1965
  19. Gigli by Irmgard Keun, 1931
  20. Gay Berlin -Birth of a Modern Identity by Robert Beachy, 2014
  21. “Siegelmann’s Journey” by Johannes Urzidil, 1962

Mel has posted on three short stories by Johannes Urzidil.  He has asked me, I have also read all the stories in the collection The Last Bell, assembled, translated and introduced by David Burnett to comment briefly upon his story,”Siegelmann’s Journey”.

Richard Siegelmann, living in Prague, is a travel agent, a real job requiring significant expertise and knowledge in the days before the internet.  He is an expert at putting together trips for his clients.  He knows where to get the best wood carvings in Bali, the most sarap seafood in New Orleans, The Paris train schedules and much more.  He has read hundreds of Guide books and histories.  Everyone assumes he is a world traveler but in fact he has never been more than fifty miles from Prague.  He is a confirmed bachelor with a settled routine he is comfortable with.  One day he has a change encounter with a woman while out walking.  Overtime they get to know each other and begin spending time together.  She assumed he has been many places, he can talk with great fluency about traveling, and he leads her to believe she is correct.  One day, out of the blue, she asks him “Where will we go on our honeymoon?”   At first her assumption of what he sees as  her taking for granted what he never had in mind miffs him but they marry.  From here as his deception unravels a terrible disaster ends the story.  The closing is interestingly similar to that of his “Borderlands”

This is a good story, well developed though Mel and I agree that the title story in the collection, “The Last Bell” about a maid adjusting to life in Nazi occupied Prague is the best story.  

We endorse the purchase of this collection.

Johannes Urzidil - Biography
Johannes Urzidil (February 3, 1896 - November 2, 1970) was a Czech-German writer, poet, historian, and journalist. Born in Prague, he died in Rome.
Urzidil was educated in Prague, studying German, art history, and Slavic languages before turning to journalism and writing. His initial efforts in poetry were influenced by Expressionism, and were published under the pseudonym Hans Elmar. He also worked as a writer and editor of the monthly journal Der Mensch. Among his acquaintances during this period were Franz Werfel and Franz Kafka. From 1922 until 1933 he advised the press section of the German embassy in Prague. Czechoslovakia was occupied by Nazi Germany in 1939, causing Urzidil to take refuge in Britain; in 1941 he came to the United States, acquiring American citizenship in 1946.

Although he published poetry, Urzidil is best known for his prose which, though written in exile, reflects his Bohemian heritage. Among his more notable works are a collection of short stories, The Lost Beloved (1956; the title refers to Prague); the novel Der Trauermantel, and the story collection Prague Triptych (whose composition is derived from that of an altarpiece).
Urzidil won a number of prizes in his career, including the Charles Veillon Prize (1957) and the Großer Österreichischer Staatspreis (1964). He died in Rome in 1970.

The main-belt asteroid 70679 Urzidil is named after Urzidil.

Bio above data from

Avant Bousweau 

1 comment:

Buried In Print said...

What a lot of reading for German Literature Month: an inspiration!