coming back to you now after having listened several times to the plug-in myself , I hope you do enjoy some of the infelicities of pronunciation inevitable as much as I do. For me, this experience – which is easily explained in terms of the automatic oral reproduction of the blog – called to mind many occasions when my second name was mispronounced in the English-speaking world. After some moments of irritation when I was young I started collecting them as precious moments of linguistic slips the speakers themselves were unaware of and which continued to amuse me as they accumulated over the years. One day I had enough of this perhaps because then I had finally started moving in circles where such things do not occur, so I decided to put pen to paper and wrote what after long gestation has now become a prose text. I am grateful to a Berlin novelist, now in retirement from the public, for suggesting to me to look back sine ira et studio, without anger and with care, that is, at about fifty such texts written over the last two decades and to make up my mind about which one could stand as a poem, while turning the others into prose pieces, which I also did for the following one.
summer has fulfilled expectations of heat waves as well as of life slowing down a bit when there is no PC asking you to communicate on the World Wide Web. Indeed, I enjoyed being offline on the East Frisian island of Baltrum very much. In terms of reading matter it was only books and newspapers.
At the same time, thinking through things as well as projects already begun is much easier when horses' hooves and children's shouts and screeches as well as tantrums are the only outside noises apart from those made by the once to threetimes daily ferry or the birds once the tide is in. While I had intended to have an audio/a video section added to this website, which is soon going online for the first time, it was through an e-mail from one of the readers of this blog that I decided to have a plug-in installed as well. So, as of today, you can both read this blog and listen to it when on a train, for example.
I checked some samples today, eliminating, for example, the asterisks from the prose text "Anglo-German Portraits" contained in the Thirtheenth Summer Blog Post. If there are any other infelicities which show up because of the text now being listened to rather than being read by yourself, please do not hesitate to point them out to me.
this being the last instalment of my World Cup Diary for 2014, I don't want to delay your reading of the final chapter by any current remarks other than that referring to the elimination of the German Women's Football Team from this year's World Cup in France at the hands of a strong Swedish side. The latter broke the deadlock after a series of defeats lasting more than twenty years. So it was their turn today, and from what I watched and read they well deserved it. The semifinals have now four physically strong sides facing each other: England vs. USA; Sweden vs. the Netherlands. Perhaps the US can be prevented from winning yet again or even reaching the final.
Leer, 29th June 2019
With just over two minutes’ delay we succeeded in leaving the apartment to find us half an hour later at the latter end of a not interminable queue of basically young and youngish people waiting for the “petit guichet” to open at 7.30 p.m. Only when we did arrive at the end of the queue and I discerned the figure of 95 seats with limited visibility was it clear after all that we would enter the Comédie française 1680 on the night. With tickets priced at 5 € per person you cannot complain if you have a wooden seat, half a seat or nothing at all to sit on while you try to bow across the railing to discover what is going on below. We are early, so that we can look leisurely at the gallery of busts of famous French dramatists which includes, of course, Molière and Voltaire.
The former’s last “comédie-ballet”, Le malade imaginaire, is on the play-bill tonight but I must admit that I have never read that play before, nor have I so much as attended the performance of a classical French play at such a prestigious venue. It is what the French call a “spectacle”, spectacular in the sense that everything seems calculated at achieving some effect but I’m not convinced of every single spectacular moment as a part and parcel of an organic whole.
“writing to the moment” is a sentence made famous by the essayist of partly Irish descent William Hazlitt, and it still makes sense – either for a diarist or a blogger. I have been keeping diaries since 1987, most of which lying in drawers or kept in chests and hardly ever looked at, let alone exploited systematically. At the moment, they are still only an arm's length away and could help solve some questions where memories either fail to exist or keep cropping up in an inconclusive manner. For the year 1994, however, the calendar I used only allowed for noting appointments and perhaps some cryptic remarks. So I rely on other sources. And memories of all shades start to accumulate once they had been triggered by one or two key-words.
Having browsed for the first time and for some minutes in the review copy of Aldous Huxley, a biography by Uwe Rasch and Gerhard Wagner (Theiss, 2019), the first comprehensive book of its kind to appear in German, I was immediately struck by the remark that – as opposed to most of his contemporaries – Huxley lost the largest part of his personal library as well as the MSS and TS of his works in a fire in California in 1961. This certainly is a serious impediment for any literary biographer. When working for the centenary Symposium held at Münster in 1994, I was of course aware of this but having moved on I must admit that I had completely forgotten about this tragic event in Huxley's life, though I later recalled that I also studied the typescript of Island a lot, the only novel that was still unpublished in 1961.
Wilde's four years at Oxford ended in a “Double First”, and it is said everyone was surprised by this success. If today the last six months before the finals at Oxford are still without any tutorials and lectures, it is highly probable that this was already the case in his time. So nobody knew what he did when not socialising. Working seriously, as the authors of Bluffocracy (2018) is not encouraged in certain courses, least in Philosophy, Politics, Economics, PPE in short, which since 1920 has “created” quite a lot of Prime Ministers, not least David Cameron, the architect of the current catastrophe of Britain, while Theresa May had studied geography, also at Oxford University. The current favourite in the leadership contest, however, like Wilde read Greats but his degree was only an upper second class one.
summer time being football tournament time on several continents, I had reason to write my impressions both in 2010, 2014 and last year, in 2018, and this year I also recall what happened forty-five years ago, since the calendar is the same as in 1974, and suddenly the idea arose to think of the past in periods of five years.
In 1974, at age twelve,I watched my first World Cup taking place in Germany, and the day after the final in Munich we did a one-day-class trip to the Overseas Museum at Bremen when all the twelve-year-old children of 6e were packed in one carriage with four seats on each side of the narrow aisle, the boys all wearing shorts. While I fail to recall anything we may have said about the World Cup, I have always remembered the location of the museum just outside Bremen Main Station. Later in the summer, I would travel to Britain for the first time, taking the boat at Calais and becoming very seasick on the voyage out.
there was no procrastination on my part concerning no. 13, I can admit that without any remorse. On the contrary, for various reasons, unmentionable here, I rather like this number. My week since Tuesday has been so busy that I was simply unable to continue this blog.
Today, however, with the summer recess at school coming ever closer, and most of all duties now to be fulfilled when I am there rather than when staying at home, I again felt up to thinking of continuation. The poetic text I insert today before football takes over has been in the making for at least fifteen years, while I had the first idea when attending the 65th anniversary symposium held for Hans Walter Gabler at Innsbruck in late January 2003. At the time, though, I thought it might become a study. Now I am happy to see it has become a prose text consisting of short paragraphs rather than a poem which it was until early 2018 when one of the dedicatees had raised doubts about the justification I had for some texts to type them in the form of verse rather than prose.
working in several languages is my bread-winning job. Mostly, I change between German and English, German and French. Recently, however, a fourth language has returned, Italian. Eighteen years ago, I was delighted to spend about a mid-winter week in Bologna where a Ford Madox Ford conference was held which I attended realizing that among the forty odd speakers I was the only one in my late thirties not to have a proper university job. Since the publication of an illustrated biography and the translation of the first version of The Picture of Dorian Gray in an uncensored edition had not allowed me to breathe more freely owing to a sharp increase of royalties, this insight into my economic situation as a translator and writer kept me busy for another few months until I realized that it was time to change professions.
if father and son are both writers, the chances they see similar things similarly and at the same time, while not necessarily talking about their parallel activities, are high. This is what I found out two years ago when trying to find those papers that should be preserved by the Westphalian Writers’ Archives at Münster that had agreed to take my father’s literary estate. Mind, he is still alive and now again an active reader, something he had always been but mostly with a purpose in mind. In his present situation, he can do what he likes, and so I send him my current work once it is published.
today is “Bloomsday”, now universally celebrated by fans of James Joyce's novel Ulysses as the festival of a single day in the Dublin of 1904. Eighteen years ago, I was invited to speak to an audience at Nuremberg about the third chapter, entitled “Proteus”. Then, I still travelled from Münster in Westphalia to whatever haunts I was asked to share with readers of James Joyce. At the time, I had already realized that this period of my life was running out of steam for I earned hardly anything from the proceeds of my pen as translator and writer of biographies – the first one of which on Oscar Wilde had been published in September 2000. So the contact with Maria Eger at Nuremberg started by a phone call of hers some time earlier was rewarding in the sense that I felt my hobby-horse was going to remain one in the future and that I would not be obliged to toe the academic as well as the commercial line for much longer.
Exhilarated by the perspective of doing what I wanted to do, I also wrote a poem to introduce my talk. Here it is: To this day most of my occasional poems have not seen the light of day, while a blog provides me with a good opportunity to combine literary interests in Wilde and Joyce as well as others such as politics and football.
as you can see when typing in https://site.unibo.it/wetell-school, there is an interesting summer school about storytelling as an important impulse to create civic awareness which is going to take place at Bologna University in early July. As an active teacher of modern languages, I often revert to telling stories, most of them experienced myself, in order to catch students' attention, particularly when they are too young to understand abstract concepts such as civic responsibility, awareness and difficult lessons to be learned from history.
Both Oscar Wilde, the main subject of this blog, and Tanya Josefowitz as well as Anne Frank tell stories rather than spread their word in terms of theories. Even when addressing theoretical subjects Wilde more often than not uses the literary form of a dialogue with fictitious characters to tell the story he has in mind.
returning late on Wednesday evening after an extremely long day at Ulrichsgymnasium Norden, I had hoped to relax on day one after Anne Frank's 90th birthday. The opposite was the case, since a day filled with meetings including the odd one with some of my students who had just received their matriculation results made it difficult to stop thinking about the day and the last two years spent with about thirty-five of this year's graduates. And while one student said that Anne Frank was just one witness to her, others who had accompanied groups to see the travelling exhibition two years ago saw her as the symbol of resistance she still is today.
yesterday, I also discovered that for decades a friend of Anne Frank, Laureen Nussbaum, that is, had fought for the publication of the diary in the form Anne Frank had herself re-written it in, rather than in the collation prepared by Otto Frank. In a sense, he had censored his daughter's work by mixing the two versions. At the moment, I can only speculate about the new translation, while my own impression of the German used in the collated edition is that it is much too flowery. But I say this on the basis of having compared two or three pages of the German with the very terse English text I read the whole diary in.
writing on the 90th birthday of Anne Frank who died in Bergen-Belsen, Lower Saxony, in February or March 1945, it is not difficult to establish a relationship with Oscar Wilde – though many of the multitude of her readers might not know yet why.
I was quite excited on discovering the following quotations and have been looking forward to introduce Anne Frank into this blog for some time. Maybe you are surprised, too.
Starting on 1st July 1944, roughly 75 years ago, that is, Anne noted some excerpt from “An Ideal Husband” in her “Book of Beautiful Sentences” which is included in the “Complete Works” but not in the diary as translated into English, for example.
writing up on ongoing football events, while professional obligations – picking up the loose threads at the end of the school year as well as awarding prizes or waiting for possible oral exams – concern certain administrative tasks – is not an easy job when the main topic is supposed to be Oscar Wilde. All the same, you can always try to think about the Irishman's work in terms of current events. On Whit Monday, for example, I tried to rethink the ending of my preface to the essay “The Soul of Man under Socialism” in the sense of Irish history from Wilde's lifetime to the present day crisis. This is all the more useful as the current crisis of the United Kingdom touches both Ireland as a whole and the European Union. I like to play with figure, so that the very last sentence I noted runs as follows: “It is since 2016 at the very latest that the Irish know why they once joined the EU, and facing twenty-six other European states united behind the Republic of Ireland, British politicians should have learned by now that this situation is highly symbolic of what is going to happen sooner or later: the twenty-six counties of Ireland will one day be re-united!”
while it is gratifying to note that Internet activity in the past six months has resulted in finding this blog through the normal search machine, this view on Oscar Wilde is still perhaps only perceived by very few – the “happy few”, he might have quipped. Rightly so, since it needs some reflection to be able to think beyond the trodden paths and and to undeceive oneself about what is going on around us. Wilde was always able to point out undercurrents while apparently being someone who assimilated himself well in the English society of his day and age.
He was a conservative at heart, an Irish patriot, and someone who knew when he saw an injustice. This is one strand of his thought prominent in the essay “The Soul of Man under Socialism”, a new German edition of which Elsinor Verlag has just published in my translation. Here are the bibliographical details:
Des Menschen Seele im Sozialismus
Aus dem Englischen neu übersetzt und mit Anmerkungen
sowie einem Vorwort versehen von Jörg W. Rademacher
while it would be worth our while conversing about football as Wilde's contemporaries might have talked the scandals about town in the interval of a comedy of manners performed at the Haymarket, for example, I still want to link both activities. So tonight I compared the published review of a novel that appeared on 31st May 2019 with what I had sent in some weeks before. As usual in recent months, the editor cut the text. Let's not speculate here.
I'd rather have you read in English what I actually wrote about Alexander Pechmann's novel “The Hooded Crow” (“Die Nebelkrähe”) and what I would have liked to write if there had been more space to do so
watching the highlights of the Nations League semi-finals with Portugal beating Switzerland and the Netherlands coming back against England to win following two decisive defensive blunders in extra-time, I thought that the old truth still holds: no matter how good you are up front, it is always the back four and the goalkeeper who make you lose a match and a title. You can never control Cristiano Ronaldo absolutely, nor can you prevent the Dutch from attacking, but as in 2018 when both Bayern Munich and Liverpool lost to Real Madrid for lack of cynicism, the team beaten on Wednesday or Thursday last failed to control the ball when in their own third of the ground.
Friday, 7th June 2019
Before uploading this post, let me briefly say that watching women’s football matches live at the World Cup in Germany in 2011 has made me a fan of their more playful variant as well. So I tuned in the first half of the France v. South Korea tie yesterday evening and have just followed the highlights of Germany v. China. The Équipe tricolore seem to justify their status as favourites in their home tournament, while the young German side, who beat France some months ago, had to work very hard to clinch the match by one goal to nil, showing some frightening weaknesses – similar to those blunders made by the English defence on Thursday – which, however, the Chinese failed to profit from, someone only prevented by a ball hitting the post from taking the lead.
before you start to wonder about what I am doing now, let me briefly explain that opening my drawer of unpublished texts on football matches I do not intend to leave the literary sphere at all. Having decided early on, way before I had come of age that watching football would be the activity I might stick to rather than trying in vain to imitate my peers, I was glad one day to discover that Oscar Wilde had been a strictly non-playing member of an Oxford University Cricket Club. At least he was a club member. I never joined a football club. At the same time, as a man of letters with many favourite writers I also like many different football teams and ways of playing the game. So writing about it allows me to combine two passions, and since the book market in that respect does not like to accommodate books like the one I wrote five years ago I try my luck by dividing the diary entries into blog posts. Some of them will certainly include references to events taking place this summer, while the gist recalls impressions from the Brazil World Cup in 2014.
on day one after the latest European Elections I cannot but reflect on this event that has had eleven editions since 1979 when, just turned seventeen, I only could take part by counting votes in Unna, Westphalia, where I grew up.
Today, Monday, 27th May 2019, I did not wake up to see surprising banner headlines, as did Britons back in June 2016 who had gone to bed thinking that the Remainers would clinch the day only to wake up with the Leavers being the winners who have not, as it seems now, taken all.
On Wednesday, 8th May 2019, the 74th anniversary of VE Day as well as the 70th anniversary of the vote taken by the "Parliamentary Council" that allowed the German Basic Law to be signed on 23rd May 1949, about 35 people attended the opening ceremony of the exhibition "Tanya Josefowitz and Anne Frank at 90. A Life of Resistance" in room F0 of the arts building of Ulrichsgymnasium Norden. The headmaster, Mr. Wolfgang Grätz, spoke briefly on the impossibility of finding words to sum up the horrors committed before and during World War Two. Then Frau Elke Scheiner read three passages chosen from "I Remember" in the translation originally made for the laying of stepping-stones in front of the house in Worms where the Kagan family had lived until February 1938.
An exhibition of posters prepared by classes 9b (Anne Frank) and 10b (Tanya Josefowitz) is going to open in the arts building at Ulrichsgymnasium Norden on 8th May 2019. The opening ceremony is at 3.30 p.m. in Room F03, at Fräuleinshof, Norden. Frau Elke Scheiner, the initiator of the project and personal friend of Tanya Josefowitz is going to read passages from the memoir in German. Thereafter, the exhibition is open Monday to Friday to 24th May with special events to be announced for 17th May and for 12th June, the 90th birthday of either Tanya Josefowitz or Anne Frank.
returning from Marseilles on Sunday last, where I had attended the spring conference of the Relais de la Mémoire, I had just a little bit of respite, staying at home for merely one or two hours more, only to learn the next day that my early train had been cancelled. This piece of news from one of the regular commuters to Norden immediately brought back the main hitch of our journey to the Mediterranean. We were only fifteen minutes late in Frankfort for the TGV to Marseilles, and at the information desk a friendly lady told us that we would be held up in Lyons that evening – only two hours by TGV from Marseilles!
We had not anticipated such an adventure, while having been kept in the dark by the very unfriendly conductor on the train to Frankfort about “such internal matters” not concerning the traveller as catching
today I am writing my new post on the eve of a trip to Marseilles. As some of you may know my bread-winning job is teaching modern languages at a Gymnasium in East Frisia, which is in the North-Western pocket of Germany just facing the Netherlands. So whenever we travel South, we start off at the North Sea and don't stop until we have reached the Mediterranean, covering about 1,600 km in the process and linking our school with three Lycées at Marseilles plus several others from Paris, Tournai, Vienna and one grammar school from Newcastle. This is the last pre-Brexit meeting of the organisation called Relai de la Mémoire Junior, originally founded in 1989 by survivors of the Shoah and former deportees and resistance fighters to keep alive the memory of the atrocities committed in the Second World War.
As it happens, both Oscar Wilde, the main topic of this blog and website, and Tanya Josefowitz, the Jewish lady I have been writing about lately in my posts, also pass on memories of traumatic experiences. And like John Bercow, the current very controversial Speaker of the House of Commons, Wilde and Josefowitz like to be witty, too.
while teaching writing various text types to my students – no matter whether in English, French, or German – I consider writing myself quite a challenge since it means to negotiate between what I regard as essential for adolescents who need to write for “marks” or “credits” and what I feel imperative to do once writing needs to pass the “reality test”. In writing a blog, I am glad to notice that not all bloggers keep addressing their audience throughout the entry, and that there are also quite sober ways of talking to the readers on the Internet.
Today I begin by publishing a poem based on a research into the words following that of “translator” in an English dictionary which I wrote when I was still recovering from two years of immersion into the world of Oscar Wilde. Here it is:
Writing post-Holocaust remembrance day, after the 27th of January, that is, I only need to mention that this year, at Leer, the commemoration of the liberation of Auschwitz in 1945 was devoted to gay men whom the National-Socialists as of 1935 had totally criminalized. So Oscar Wilde’s predicament is present among us even if he died already in 1900. Having just completed the translation into English of biographical sketches of detainees held in Esterwegen and other Emsland Concentration and Convicts’ Camps between 1933 and 1945, I was reminded more than once of Oscar Wilde – in particular since the men detained for that reason were not prominent at. Unlike Wilde, or, the Winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1936, Carl von Ossietzky, they had no-one to “talk about them”. At the same time, Wilde’s prison writings are a constant reminder of what literature can do. It is in this vein that I want to introduce another book which has now arrived at the production stage.
little did I imagine before that without adding too many extra pages to my website that I would start, within a few months of beginning this adventure, to unfold many of my interests that I have only had the chance to develop in the criticism section of Irland Almanach. This was an annual I co-edited with four German friends which from 1999 through 2002 portrayed things Irish in German but which the publishers for lack of funds sadly discontinued after the fourth isssue entitled "The Celtic Tiger". One aspect we dealt with was music of all kinds, in my case classical music. So I had been looking forward to a concert at Leer, East Frisia, for some months in which Andrew Manze was to conduct the Radiophilharmonic Orchestra Hanover in a programme with Beethoven, Brahms, the violin concerto, and the Fifth Symphony in D-Major by Ralph Vaughan-Williams. I had hoped for a festival, and I was not deceived. However, in the context both of this blog and the current crisis in the British Isles the concert told me another story, too, which I'd like to unfold now if you care to follow me here.
it is not unusual for people interested in Oscar Wilde also to be fascinated by politics. Not least since it has become clear that he was more than intrigued by both the Parnell affairs and the movement towards Home Rule for Ireland. More than twenty years after the Belfast Agreement reached on Good Friday 1998, it is certainly clear to the Irish - not including a substantial faction in the North - that what was agreed on then was only possible within the European Union. These days, many commentators both sides of the Channel recall that in general they have always admired and loved the British excentricity while underestimating the problems underlying an inbred skepticism of Europe and the European Union and the very excentricity have always posed for those looking behind the scenes.
today I am going to present you my impressions of a series of detective novels I read last year and of which I wrote four short reviews in German – as yet unpublished. Since all I do here somehow relates to Oscar Wilde, let me briefly state why I consider these books important. Like Wilde who was Irish and lived in England, looking at both countries with the eyes of an outsider, Benjamin Cors looks at France from outside since he lives in Germany and writes in German. It is through Wilde that I have become familiar with such an attitude which means that, superficially, there is a close assimilation to the host culture and language, while, subliminally, there are other currents as well. As a translator, I have become particularly aware of such undercurrents, and I want to point them out in review and other articles which I will insert into my blog at irregular intervals. Consequently, I am going to give them general titles as well as numbers.
while it is not yet clear whether this is going to be a monthly blog or a bi-monthly one, it is pretty clear to me that I have been looking for such a mode of communication for quite some time since Oscar Wilde is still very much a public figure who might have taken a controversial part in many a debate if he had survived the turn of the last century.
writing on Oscar Wilde on a regular basis means to start searching for points of reference in one's everyday life. This week it was his 164th birthday when I had no chance to think of him for I needed to push on with a major marking task at school. The next day, however, 17th October 2018, I had much time to think things over as I took several trains to the South-West of Germany, the university town of Tübingen, that is. It was here that German writer and Nobel Prize winner Hermann Hesse did an apprenticeship in a bookstore, and I still remember quite clearly the stuffy place I browsed in once or twice when I first stayed in the town in April and, once again, in September and October 1990.
it has been my wish to spread the word about Oscar Wilde for a long time, while I hesitated to go beyond having books and articles printed. I still do distrust web mechanisms when they are controlled by large money-making institutions, just as I do not fancy one-sided presentations for the sake of silencing minority views. So it took a long time until I finally decided to launch my own blog, concentrating on Oscar Wilde rather than trying to present all my interests.