Summer Blog Post Four

Wilde, "The Soul of Man under Socialism" in German, and, alas, Football

Summer Blog Post Four

Dear readers of my blog,

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:

Oscar Wilde

Des Menschen Seele im Sozialismus

Aus dem Englischen neu übersetzt und mit Anmerkungen

sowie einem Vorwort versehen von Jörg W. Rademacher

Nachwort von Michael Szczekalla

Taschenbuch | 108 pp. | € 12,00 [D]

Elsinor Verlag, Coesfeld

ISBN 978-3-942788-42-7

 

The translation is new, indeed, as well as the preface and postface, the latter also discussing Wilde's position in both 19th thinking and beyond up until contemporary theories of globalization. Doing some research on competing editions in the German book market yielded an edition, re-issued several times, and first published twenty years ago, which I also refer to, as well as others first published when Wilde's estate was bankrupt in the 1900s and re-published without changes or abridgements marked ever since. So in this time when the famous 1922 committee of the “True Blues” thinks fit to change the rules for the election of a new leader almost daily, it is perhaps a good idea to look at Wilde's ideas about democracy and any sort of government again, not least in the context, not only of socialism and Christianity, but also in terms of art and authority. They are, I can assure you, very topical, and I'd like to hear from you if you also want this edition to be published in English. I am already working towards producing one. And this time, there is also going to be an E-book as well as a paperback.

This is it for now about Wilde. In terms of talking football, there are the news about the clash between Turkey and France which the hosts won surprisingly, while the highlights I saw clearly showed not only by the goals L'équipe tricolore conceded but also by the chances the hosts had to increase their lead that this side has lost some of its shape. They were lucky, indeed, in late October 2018 to beat the Germans in Paris. If they hadn't, it would have been them who were relegated to Group B of the Uefa Nations League. Now the Germans are re-building their side, which they ought to have been doing much more consistently ever since winning the World Cup in 2014. Their own qualifying match took place in Belorussia where a young team with skipper Neuer the only survivor of the World-Cup winning thirteen on the pitch. He hadn't played many matches recently but as in the German Cup Final three weeks ago he excelled when it was necessary, so that after taking the lead early the German team survived a low at the end of the first half and thanks to another goal after the hour safely won their second match. Sané and Reus scored one each, both acting much too quickly for the Belorussian defenders.

This win proved important since yesterday evening the Dutch lost the Uefa Nations League Final by a goal to nil and so are in need of points as well. Luckily, the Germans won in Amsterdam in March, so that they are now ahead – also, strangely, the alternative World Cup Winner since it was them who first beat the Dutch after having beaten the French last November.

This, however, is playful thinking, and the Dutch should not be sorry for too long, since the Portuguese yesterday had won only the second trophy in three attempts made in the past fifteen years. It is not by accident that this long spell of successes coincides with Cristiano Ronaldo's career, nor is it a coincidence that their last outright failure – to qualify for the second round in 2014 began with a disastrous opening match vs. Germany. While the so-called “Golden Generation” never won anything, their successors with Ronaldo now a disciplined member of the squad was able to win two finals within the last four years. He may not also win the World Cup in three years time but by and large he has now surpassed Lionel Messi as player for various clubs and his national side.

Monday, 10th June 2019

 

6

Sitting on a grey plastic chair in the last but one row of the main nave of St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna, while the organ accompanies the progress of the Holy Communion, I take in the different atmosphere ruling in the house of worship on today’s Lord’s Day. There is no concert the man at the cash-till of the Cathedral Shop never tires of repeating in English as gruffly as possible. “It’s Holy Mass, not a concert.” All the same, choir pieces by Schubert are going to be sung in the Mass starting at ten fifteen a.m. This is what I have come for: to listen to works by the two Viennese composers performed in the city they had lived in. Schubert even composed his Mass in C-Major in Vienna in 1816, as can be gathered from a sheet lying on the chair further up front where I’ve moved since the priest of 9 o’clock Mass, presumably someone whose mother tongue is English given his accent in German, had blessed the congregation.

       At ten o’clock, the nave has already filled with many tourists from Asia attending and the double-bass of the orchestra in place as well behind a column on my right. It’s Trinity Sunday and obviously they don’t expect many people any more to be aware of the liturgy, since yellow sheets printing the day’s responses are lying around, too.

       The bell calling the congregation stops tolling at ten O five, while the choir members, all in black, are filing in along with the other orchestra members. It is only now that all the bells begin to announce the imminence of Holy Trinity Mass on Sunday, 15th June 2014.

Vienna, St. Stephen’s Cathedral

 

***

Reading up on Robben’s triumph in Saturday’s L’Équipe acquired in Vienna, I’m still doubtful about my tip for Spain’s next group match against Chile. In South Africa, they also lost their opening game facing Otmar Hitzfeld’s Swiss side, producing a single chaotic situation with two defenders and Casillas being involved which resulted in one of only two goals they conceded throughout the whole World Cup. The only other goal was scored by, well, Chile who are a very fast and flexible team this time round.

Later, still on the train from Vienna I overheard two women discussing the weekend’s matches and went over to ask about the Switzerland vs. Ecuador game which, I was told by a young man, ended by two goals to one, with the winner being scored in the last minute.

Nine matches played, I’ve been able to score four times, presumably having earned 12 points so far. Since both Brazil and Italy clinched their opening matches, my prediction for the final is still intact, while Spain, if they qualify for the next round at all, are likely to meet Brazil on 28th June rather than on 13th July.

The French journalists think Spain need to be really strong in order to re-emerge from their current vale of tears. A young man on the train, an active footballer himself, he said, pointed out, too, that most if not all of Spain’s players had been lined up in the Champions League Final two years ago. Like many other Germans, he voiced only skepticism about our team’s chances, saying even that Coach Löw ought to have resigned in 2012 following the defeat suffered at the hands of Italy and Balotelli in particular.

Going for Italy in my match, group, and tournament predictions, I hoped for further such scenes as Andrea Pirlo’s dummy run towards the ball, allowing it to pass by, so that Marchisio could score from outside the area after a corner. I had also thought Balotelli might pull off feats such as those accomplished when he scored twice against Germany. This is modern football simplified when it comes to scoring goals and England, like Australia on Friday, missed too many opportunities, scoring only when on the counter-attack themselves.

On the train from Hanover to Leer, Sunday, 15th June 2014



7

Back in East Frisia, my back aching from sitting too much, I learn more about the Swiss’ late win over Ecuador plus France’s 3:0 over Honduras, which makes group E the first one where I scored in both matches. In Monday’s local paper, there are press clippings commenting on Spain’s disastrous start. The headlines quoted couldn’t be worse, so I finally venture a prediction, going for a dramatic rather than a goalless result. Perhaps I’ll also change those tips for day one of other groups for which I had foreseen a draw. If even the Italians crave certainty by looking for goals as soon as possible, it’s unlikely that any other team would tolerate the usual suspense of a nil nil, given that coming back from behind will be ever more difficult towards the latter end of the game. A contradiction in terms this may well be but in such heat and humidity running forward with the ball looks an easier exercise than running back and forth to keep the adversary from scoring.

 

***

Having checked my results yesterday, I couldn’t be content given the position in the ranking compared to the sum total of points I could have reached. Nor can I be satisfied this morning as I didn’t change my tip for the USA game, nor did I do so for the goalless match between Iran and Nigeria. So the only two points I snatched were from the Germany vs. Portugal game which for the eighth time in the history of the World Cup and for the fourth time running saw a German side score four or more goals:

5:2 in 1934 (third place)

4:1 in 1954 (winner)

5:0 in 1966 (runner-up)

4:1 in 1990 (winner)

8:0 in 2002 (runner-up)

4:2 in 2006 (third place)

4:0 in 2010 (third place)

4:0 in 2014 ?????

And Thomas Müller was the third German player to complete a hat-trick in the opening match after Conen in 1934 and Klose in 2002. Suspense had gripped me in the last lesson of English yesterday around 1 p.m. And when the team was leading by a goal, two, even three goals to nil, some men hoped they would stick it out and not suffer another Swedish reversal as in October 2012. I simply said that the players were surely all of them aware of this but doubted that the message was heard. Consequently, when the second half started slowly with the Portuguese, who were down to ten men following Pepe’s stupidly thrusting Thomas Müller with his head, rather unwilling to try really hard to press for a goal, people next to me were already yearning for more action.

       I wasn’t, since I felt enough had already happened for three matches, though I was glad to see that the substitutes were able to fend off Cristiano Ronaldo’s attempts at dribbling past them or scoring from free kicks as well as create the triple chance that finally allowed Müller his third, sitting on the ground when he hit the ball on the rebound.

       In fact, Löw had taken advantage of a Bayern Munich system with a tricky right-footed player up left, Götze, that is, and a left-footed player up right, Özil that is, with Müller in the centre and all over the place, playing the parts of Arjen Robben, Franck Ribéry, and Mario Mandzukic and his own part in one.

Tuesday, 17th June 2014, on the train to Norden

 

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