We took everything upon ourselves

Dear Sophie, What I found most interesting in the book The White Rose (1952) were the leaflets you produced and distributed, together with your brother and a group of like-minded friends: those leaflets were at once abstract and passionate; concrete and mystical. They read very much like a combination of different (sometimes even dissonant) voices set…

Sophie Scholl

Sophia Magdalena Scholl (9 May 1921 – 22 February 1943) was a German student, anti-Nazi dissident, and activist. When she was a teenager, she enlisted in the Hitler youth organization, as did most of her classmates. However, her initial enthusiasm gradually gave way to criticism, as she and her brother Hans began to feel the stifling effects of…

I preferred us when my father was away

Dear Birgit, The Mussel Feast, tr. Jamie Bulloch (2013. Original: Das Muschelessen, 1990) is a novella about the collapse of a man’s rule over his family during the course of an evening. It feels very much like you were weaving words around a blank space: as the story progresses, we get as much entangled in it as your characters…

Birgit Vanderbeke

Birgit Vanderbeke (1956) is a German writer. Born in the DDR, she moved with her family to West Germany, in 1961. Vanderbeke studied Law, Germanic and Romance languages in Frankfurt am Main. She lives in France since 1993. Awards Ingeborg-Bachmann-Preis (1990) for “Das Muschelessen” (1990) Hans Fallada Prize (2002) Shortlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize (2014) for The…

My Year in Nonfiction 2018 | Biographies

Hi, folks! Continuing with the discussion started in the previous post, about nonfiction trends in my reading this year,  I’ve also noticed that I read a good amount of biographical books about women of letters: * Sara Coleridge, a Victorian Daughter: Her Life and Essays, by Bradford Keyes Mudge (1989) The book is a scholarly biography of Sara…

My Year in Nonfiction 2018 | 18th-century women writers

Hi, folks, I am late to the game, but I am discussing here the first prompt of Nonfiction November, posted during week 1 and hosted by Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness. I am thinking about dividing this discussion over two (or more…) posts, so as to make a longer overview of my nonfiction reading over the year. Let’s…

Novellas in November | 2018

Hi, folks! There are never enough reading events, right? I just heard about Novellas in November, hosted by Rick over at Another Book Blog and Laura over at Reading in Bed. The idea is  simple: to read novellas throughout the month. Here is my TBR for the event (as you can see, some of the books will overlap…

She regarded life as an expedition into the unknown,

Dear Erika, I was not planning to read yet another book about you, nor anything related to the Mann family, but Gunna Wendt’s Erika und Therese: Erika Mann und Therese Giehse – Eine Liebe zwischen Kunst und Krieg (2018, ‘Erika Mann and Therese Giehse: a love story between art and war’, not translated yet) inadvertently…

Erika Mann

Erika Mann (Erika Julia Hedwig Mann, 1905 – 1969) was a German writer and actress. Born in Munich, she was the eldest daughter of the German novelist Thomas Mann. From 1912 to 1914, she attended the private school Ebermayerschule,  followed by almost a year at the Bogenhausen Volksschule. From 1915 to 1920, Erika attended the Höhere Mädchenschule am St….

An imposing and fragile mass

THE ELEPHANT Carlos Drummond de Andrade With my scant resources I make an elephant. I count on some wood from old furniture to prop him up. And I fill him with cotton, silk floss, softness. Glue will secure his droopy ears. His curling trunk is the finest part of his architecture. But he also has…

Carlos Drummond de Andrade

Carlos Drummond de Andrade (October 31, 1902 – August 17, 1987) was a Brazilian writer. He studied Pharmacy at the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, in Belo Horizonte, but never worked as a pharmacist. He was a civil servant for most of his life. Books In English In the Middle of the Road – Selected Poems, translated by John…

To light a fire in the night

FIRE IN THE NIGHT Hélio Pellegrino (tr. Juliana Brina) We’ll light a fire in the night. Come here, hold this newspaper scrap, while I  strike the match. The wind is blowing hard, we must avoid it, otherwise the fire goes out. Come closer, have no fear. Unfold the end of the paper, leave it free,…

Hélio Pellegrino

Hélio Pellegrino (1924 — 1988) was a Brazilian writer and psychoanalyst. He studied Medicine at the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, and wrote for several literary supplements. He was friends with the writers Fernando Sabino, Paulo Mendes Campos, Otto Lara Resende and Nelson Rodrigues. Books A Burrice do demônio (1988) Minérios domados (1993) Lucidez Embriagada (2004) Fire in the night

Nonfiction November| 2018

Hi, folks! I can’t believe it’s almost November! As in previous years, in this garden of mine, it is time not only for German Lit books, but also for some nonfiction. Nonfiction November is a month-long celebration hosted by Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness, Julie at JulzReads, Sarah at Sarah’s Book Shelves, Katie at Doing Dewey, and Rennie at What’s…

O cursed human voice, violin of flesh and blood,

Dear Violet, The short-story “A Wicked Voice”, published in the collections Hauntings (1890) and The Virgin of the Seven Daggers (1962, posthumously published), combines elements of a Faustian pact, a bewitching Sirens’ song, and a fall from grace, so as to convey one’s own enslavement through art. The story centres on the narrator, Maestro Magnus, a musician…

Vernon Lee

Vernon Lee (pseudonym of Violet Paget, 1856 – 1935) was a British writer. Born in France to cosmopolitan British parents, she lived most of her life in Italy. Vernon Lee maintained an androgynous appearance and adopted a masculine pseudonym for her publications. She was a feminist and a fervent pacifist, and had long-term love relationships with Mary Robinson, Clementina Anstruther-Thomson,…

Panic calls out cowardice, and cowardice cruelty

Dear Elizabeth, The novella Lois the Witch (1859) is a fictionalised account of the Salem witch hunt, as well as a sharp meditation on the thin line between virtue and sin. The story revolves around the eighteen-year-old Lois Barclay, a recently orphaned English Anglican girl who travels all the way to Salem, Massachusetts, in search…

Elizabeth Gaskell

Elizabeth Gaskell (Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell, née Stevenson; 1810 – 1865) was an English writer. After her mother’s death, one-year-old Gaskell was sent to live with her aunt. Encouraged by her father, she received a traditional education in classics and arts, and later attended the Avonbank School in Stratford-on-Avon. In 1832, Gaskell married a Unitarian minister, with whom she had six children. Her…