Monday, December 21, 2009
Herta Müller: Der Fuchs war damals schon der Jäger
Literary Discussion: Gertrude Stein / Herta Müller
yesterday, i received an invite to join an ongoing literary discussion: "..there is a new question for discussion at matchbook that you might be interested in - about Gertrude Stein and the idea of the 'inaccrochable'. We'd love to hear from you."
curious, i went there. and reading through all the posts, my thoughts started to roam. and returned to the Herta Müller book i read in November, and to Rushdie's "Satanic Verses" in the bookshelf here. so i pieced some thoughts together that probably waited for a place to take shape:
"like Marcelle, the word "inaccrochable" made me think of writers and artists who are censored or persecuted. it also made me think of the self-censorship that has developed in europe by publishers, authors and journalists when it comes to any text or book (or comic) that might be (mis)understood as offensive in arabic regions -- with Salman Rushdie and the scandinavian comic drawer as scary examples of possible consequences.
another author i thought of in connection to censorship: Herta Müller, who was awarded the nobel prize in literature this year, "for depicting the landscape of the dispossessed with the concentration of poetry and the frankness of prose". in november, i read her novel 'Der Fuch war damals schon der Jäger' ('Always, the Fox was the Hunter') - it describes life in Romania under Ceausescu's totalitarian regime, written after she was allowed to leave Romania in 1987. before that, her writing was censored. reading her book, i felt it sketches an encrypted picture of life in a land of inaccrochable / dispossessed / unspeakable truths."
Herta Müller: Atemschaukel
Following this book, I read another book of Herta Müller now, "Everything I Possess I Carry With Me" - ("Atemschaukel" in German) , which is probably easier to access. and while reading it, i also read some interviews with her, together this turned into this longer blog post on Herta Müller and her book "Atemschaukel", here's the start of it:
Atemschaukel by Herta Müller
the english title of this book is: "Everything I Possess I Carry With Me". very different from the original German one, which is on the poetic side, and literally translated means "Breath_swing"- "Atemschaukel".
the first time i read Herta Müller was in November 2009, after she was awarded the nobel prize in literature "for depicting the landscape of the dispossessed with the concentration of poetry and the frankness of prose."
back then, i read her novel 'Der Fuch war damals schon der Jäger' ('Always, the Fox was the Hunter') - it describes life in Romania under Ceausescu's totalitarian regime, written after she was allowed to leave Romania in 1987. after reading it, i got curious for more of her writing, and came across her poetry collectoin "Die Blassen Herren mit den Mokkatassen" ("the pale gentlemen with the mocca cups") it showed a different facet of her work: collage poems, created with cut-out words, pieced together in new ways with a touch of humour and a noir undercurrent.
and now, "Atemschaukel". which leads to a place of pain: a russian work camp in the years after the second world war. it's based on the memories of Oskar Pastior, a friend of Müller. they met regularly to talk about that time. the idea was to create a book together. then Pastior died, and Müller preserved the memory that otherwise would have been lost in this novel, which takes the reader into the cold, harsh, yet also human place. from the books i read from her, this is the one that is easiest to access, but also most painful to read.
here's the start of the official book description:
I know you’ll come back’. These are the words the grandmother of seventeen-year-old Leopold Auberg says to him the night he is collected by Russian soldiers for deportation to a labour camp in the Ukraine.
...more: Herta Müller and her book "Atemschaukel
Interview with Herta Müller
also, i looked for an interview with Herta Müller, and found this one: RFE-interview: Herta Mueller On Growing Up In Ceausescu's Romania.
later, i returned to Herta Müller, and read through the first pages again, remembering how i sat there, in the Lanzarote sun, and felt a chill when reading those lines, which are just the start of the discomfort:
"Die Ameise trägt eine tote Fliege. Die Ameise sieht den Weg nicht, sie dreht die Fliege um und kriecht zurück."
"The ant carries a dead fly. The ant doesn't see the way, it turns the fly and crawls back."
This blog post is part of a global reading series.
Previous reading blog entries are collected here: bookshelf: currently reading... there also is a visual bookshelf, just click it to get there.
And my own new book... is Worl(d)s Apart. True.