Saturday, January 05, 2019

January 2019 In Books: What We'll Be Reading

"2019 in books: what you'll be reading this year"
The Guardian,
Saturday, January 5, 2019


This Guardian article reminds me that I have read nothing by JD Salinger except The Catcher in the Rye when it was in the school curriculum; nor have I read anything by Colette, Philip Roth, or Germaine Greer.

In the rain and frost, this is the time to tend the couch indoors, catch up on modern classics, and celebrate new film adaptations, centenaries and other anniversaries — ideally...

Matthias-Claudius-Kirche Oldenfelde Denkmal
Photograph: An-d, April 7, 2013
via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0 License)

The books I feel I should be buying and reading:


"Clara Zetkin (left) and
Rosa Luxemburg in their way to the SPD Congress.
Magdeburg, 1910"
via Wikimedia Commons (Public domain)
Ernst Piper
Rosa Luxemburg
January 3, 2019
[Publisher's link]

"Das Leben spielt mit mir ein ewiges Haschen. Mir scheint es immer, dass es nicht in mir, nicht dort ist, wo ich bin, sondern irgendwo weit." — Rosa Luxemburg, letter to Luise Kautsky (September 1904, Zwickau), cit. in Rosa Luxemburg

A look at the life of the German Marxist political figure of the First World War and Weimar Republic era, a Swiss-educated university graduate born in Russian-occupied Poland, fierce fighter for her beliefs at a time where even many socialists weakly threw their support behind the Kaiser's military projects. She was murdered and thrown into the Spree River in Berlin, apparently with the knowledge of the German chancellor, in 1919 after the Spartacist Revolt.

[Amazon] (Source of the quotation above.
Google Translate renders her words as 'Life plays with me forever. It always seems to me that it is not in me, not where I am, but somewhere far away.' I think that the first sentence could also read: 'Life is playing an eternal game of "catch" with me.')


Daniel W. Wilson
Der faustische Pakt: Goethe und die Goethe-Gesellschaft im Dritten Reich
January 3, 2019
[Publisher's link]

"Aufklärer, Weltbürger, Pazifist, 'Judenfreund', Freimaurer" oder "Gegenaufklärer, Nationalist, Kriegsbefürworter, 'Judenfeind' und Geheimbundgegner"? — 'Enlightener, Cosmopolitan, Friend to Jews, Freemason,' or 'Counter-Enlightener, Nationalist, War-Supporter, Foe of Jews, and Opponent of Secret Societies'?
"So sehr wir heute überzeugt sind, dass das Bild des humanistischen Goethe das richtige ist, müssen wir ernsthaft fragen, was es mit dem sogenannten 'Deutschen Goethe' auf sich hat. Schließlich handelt es sich bei den Verfechtern des 'braunen' Goethebildes nicht immer um ungebildete Fanatiker, sondern oft um intelligente Menschen, die Goethes Leben und Werk sehr gut kannten." — Daniel W. Wilson in Der faustische Pakt
Insights into Johann Wolfgang Goethe's legacy — also, the influential Gesellschaft (society) that was founded in his honour posthumously — as an ambiguous instrument of German right-wing nationalists during the 1920s and 30s.

Although Goethe was made into a figurehead of German literary respectability after his death, his attitude toward Napoleon's occupation of Weimar and other states during the early 19th century was neither resistant nor francophobic enough to be apt to appeal to the Nazis.

But — taking (for example) anti-Semitic remarks and actions that were scattered in between his more tolerant moments — he was far from the lofty literary god as which some people treat him.

[Amazon] (Source of the quotation above.
Google Translate: "As much as we are convinced today that the image of the humanist Goethe is the right one, we must seriously ask what the so-called 'German Goethe' is all about. After all, the advocates of the 'brown' Goethe picture are not always uneducated fanatics, but often intelligent people who knew Goethe's life and work very well.")

See also:
"Super Goethe" by Ferdinand Mount [online here]
New York Review of Books
December 21, 2017


The books I will actually be reading, because I started them last year and want to finish them:

Translated by Franz F. Schwarz
2010 (first published: August 1, 1989)
[Publisher link]
It is not the easiest text, although Schwarz seems to have made life easier through his translation by replacing one vague Greek word that encompasses much with an array of precise modern words in German. He did, however, preserve the confusing order in which Aristotle presented his words and ideas, so that he would not iron out the Greek's stylistic intricacies altogether. Fortunately, at times Aristotle has a great simplicity and intuitiveness nevertheless.

Universitätsverlag Winter Heidelberg
Konstantinos Kavafis: Gedichte
Translated by Jörg Schäfer (aside from original Greek by Cavafy)
October 5, 2007
[Publisher link]
A volume of the great Greek poet's verse, in which the Greek original is laid side-by-side with a German translation. As far as I can tell, this book deserves the honours it has won for its well-worded German translations and its utility: it is a godsend to me with my ignorance not only of modern Greek but also of the anachronistic Greek that Kavafis implemented nostalgically, and it is a rare oasis in the desert where more Greek publications into other languages should be.

Random House
George Saunders
Lincoln in the Bardo
2018 (first published: February 14, 2017)
[Publisher link]
Mid 19th-century New England during the Civil War, through the eyes of the famous short-story writer known for his publications in the New Yorker and elsewhere. Death imitates life as the inhabitants of a graveyard reflect (on) the world at large.

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