Looking Forward to September!




Thursday, August 16, 2012

A Forthcoming Lit in Translation Readalong? Please Weigh In with Your Thoughts

I'm keen on hosting a readalong, but I'm barely in the preliminary stages of thinking about planning one. I think I know what I'd find interesting, but I'm not sure anyone else would find it so. You can see my tentative phrasing.

It would be fun to host a Heinrich Boll readalong, particularly one concentrating on his short stories. But I'm not sure anyone would be interested.

I must confess I bitterly disliked Bernhard Schlink's The Reader when it was first published in the U.S. I read 60 pages, saw exactly where he was going, and I was at that time extremely angry because I felt the subject matter manipulated the reader, due to the nature of the politics of memory in the early 1990s.

But time sometimes reverses opinions, and I now have an esteemed respect for Schlink and his entire oeuvre. I now know a great deal more about him and have read many of his writings about politics, legal issues, morality, and justice, and I've learned that he is a very different person from the one I dismissed decades ago.

So I think about hosting a Bernhard Schlink week, in which I would encourage people to sample his work. And I would encourage readers who found The Reader to be over the top, to not give up on Schlink and try another title. Another volume of his short stories has been very recently published in the U.S. Summer Lies, I believe is the title.

And because my supreme scholarly interest is German literature from 1946--present (although quite far flung from the academic courses I do teach, I'd be curious to hold a Gunter Grass week or a W.G. Sebald week or a week devoted to a woman writer of the period. I can see the women writers in my mind, but, due to the fact that I have consumed a glass of wine, I can't think of their names! I find this terrible. To not remember the names of the women!

Just my initial meanderings on the topic!

Please also weigh in on the book you're enjoying during the final weeks of summer!




9 comments:

  1. Great ideas. I think the Schlink would work best for more people but since I know I have a lot of Sebald fans among my readers there would be an option, they would join. But he isn't one to read fast. I'm a bit angry with Grass for his awful political statements of the last couple of months and wouldn't read him with much joy at the moment. In the far future I will again.
    I would totally enjoy a female writer. The names will come back to you I'm sure. Anna Seghers would be great or Ingeborg Bachmann but there are many more. I just finished a book of Geman women writers during WWII. In German unfortunately. It's a fantastic book. I will post about it soon. And list names, names, names.

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  2. Caroline,
    I want to think through my reply, and your suggestions are fascinating. I've got to find out what Grass has been saying lately. But I'm off to an appt. I'll add more to my reply a bit later.
    Thank you for your pithy comments!

    Judith

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  3. sebald or schlink be ok with me Judith ,let us know what you choose and I ll make sure I have it or will get it ,all the best stu

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    1. Stu,
      I'm definitely leaning toward Schlink, and I'll make an announcement sometime in the next few weeks.

      Thanks so much for your interest!

      Judith

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  4. I read The Reader and this is one instance in which I preferred the film

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    1. Guy,
      The film is exceptional, and I agree with you that I preferred it to the book, which happens to me so rarely. I found the acutely nuanced performances of the young narrator and Winslet made the film.

      Judith

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    2. Yes, the whole teen boy being inducted into sex thing is old, but in the film (and films usually flatten the more complex issues) the complexities are given the full treatment they deserve.

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  5. Guy,
    I agree with that, and I felt the film also laced historical memory issues around the main plot exceedingly well.

    Thinking about this makes me want to see the film again, and reread the book!

    Judith

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  6. Just a few words on Schlink. I have read his three crime novels, The Reader, and Liebesfluchten (Flights of Love). The Reader is a mediocre work at best, very kitschy. The characters are not interesting to me, they lack any depth and I didn't believe this story. There is something wrong with the book. You can feel as a reader that the characters were created mainly to emphasize a certain point the author wanted to make.
    The book with the stories is much better and I enjoyed most of the stories. The first two crime novels of the trilogy are very good and entertaining, but the third one is very weak. He wanted to squeeze too much into this book and I got the impression that he finally got fed-up with his hero.

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