Agnes Grey-Some Thoughts

After reading Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre and Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights in English for the first time last year, I recently immersed myself in Anne Brontë’s Agnes Grey, a highly autobiographical novel. Like many women in 19th century England who had to work for a living, all three Brontë sisters became governesses, one of the few accepted professions in educated circles. Despite this “acceptance”, they were neither treated nor paid well by their employers, nor granted any true authority to discipline the rich, pampered, and frequently unmanageable children.

When Agnes Grey, the novel’s eponymous protagonist, seeks to support her family financially by becoming a governess, she experiences this first-hand. Her first position is short-lived, because the overindulgent parents can find no fault with their offspring, and instead blame Anne for their disobedience. Her second employment lasts several years, but proves only marginally more satisfying. When her charges reach a marriageable age, her services are no longer required. She returns home to assist her mother in founding and administering a private school, following her father’s death (running their own school had also been the Brontës’ unfulfilled wish).

After years of unappreciated dedication and countless deprivations, Agnes finds true love when Mr. Weston, the curate of her former parish to whom she had lost her heart, seeks her out and proposes, in these words, “ ‘My house is desolate yet, Miss Grey,’ he smilingly observed, ‘ and I am acquainted now with all the ladies in my parish, and several in this town, too; and many others I know by sight and by report; but not one of them will suit me for a companion…in fact, there is only one person in the world that will; and that is yourself; and I want to know your decision?’ ” The Hollywood-style ending of Agnes Grey deviates from Anne’s sad story, but knowing about the Brontës’ fate, I cheered for that ending, wishing for Agnes what was denied to Anne.

The Brontës’ biography reads like a tragedy and fascinates generation after generation. It is a tragedy linked to one of mankind’s oldest stalkers, consumption, or tuberculosis, in modern parlance. Between 1814 and 1820, the Reverend Patrick Brontë and his wife Maria brought six children into the world. In the next year, the family became motherless, when Maria died of an ill-defined malady. In 1825, two of the daughters, Maria and Elizabeth, died of consumption at the ages of 11 and 10, respectively, likely brought on by wretched living conditions at their boarding school. Four children lived to adulthood, but not to old age. In 1848, the lone boy, Branwell, died at 31, ravaged by consumption and years of alcohol and opium addiction. Three months following his funeral, 30 year-old Emily joined him in the grave. Only one month after the dreaded disease claimed the life of her favorite sister, Anne, too, succumbed to it, 29 years young. Charlotte Brontë survived to the comparatively advanced age of 38, supposedly dying from consumption, but possibly from other causes, while pregnant with her first child. The patriarch, Patrick Brontë, despite lifelong physical ailments, outlived Charlotte by six more years, passing in 1861 at the age of 84.

We often think of the Brontës as a trio, with Charlotte playing first violin, Emily second, and Anne third. While Anne, as the youngest sibling, might have been eclipsed by her older sisters, she, too, left a legacy that allows glimpses into her soul. She had the satisfaction to see two novels published during her lifetime. I found Agnes Grey eminently readable, and look forward to The Tenant of Wildfell Hall which became a huge success, but was also hugely controversial. This later story about a battered wife who leaves her abusive husband with her son proves that Anne was a woman with her own opinions who addressed uncomfortable societal realities and whose quiet and self-effacing character might have been at least a partial posthumous fabrication by Charlotte. May Anne’s words speak for her.

Click here for the German version/klicken Sie bitte hier für die deutsche Version:

https://tanjaschimmel.wordpress.com/2017/08/03/agnes-grey-einige-gedanken/

The Original Helen Hunt

Out-of-town visitors to Colorado Springs regularly think of the present-day Hollywood actress when Helen Hunt’s name comes up during my tours as a volunteer docent at the Pioneers Museum. Both share a name and a relationship to California, but Helen Hunt, the First (1830-1885), was a pioneering woman and writer during our town’s infancy, in the latter half of the 19th century. Her initial impressions were inauspicious. “I shall never forget my sudden sense of hopeless disappointment at the moment when I first looked on the town. There stretched before me, to the east, a bleak, bare, unrelieved desolate plain. There rose behind me, to the west, a dark range of mountains, snow-topped, rocky-walled, stern, cruel, relentless. Between lay the town-small, straight, new, treeless. One might die of such a place alone.” No chamber of commerce would advertise these words on its banner. It is ironic that Colorado Springs did, in time, pride itself of the person who expressed them and name the popular waterfalls in North Cheyenne Cañon after her.

Helen Hunt Falls in North Cheyenne Cañon

Helen Hunt, née Fiske, was 43 years old in November 1873 when she suffered these somber sensations after a cross-country train journey across the flat, monochromatic Great Plains from her home in Massachusetts to Colorado. Knowing about her past life, they are understandable. Motherless since age 13, fatherless since 16, she had lost her 11 month-old son Murray at 23, her 42 year-old husband Edward B. Hunt when she was 32, and her nine year-old son Warren at 34. Ill at heart and ill in body, she came at the behest of her physician, who recommended a change of scenery for a chronic respiratory condition. Before the antibiotic era, Colorado, by virtue of its healthy climate, was among the premiere destinations for health seekers suffering from consumption. During a period of frequent misdiagnosis, Helen might have been afflicted by tuberculosis, but officially it was asthma.

Fortunately for the burgeoning community at the foot of Pikes Peak, founded only two years prior, the dry air of the mountains did, indeed, benefit her health, while their beauty lifted her spirits. Helen decided to stay, after a complete reversal of her earlier attitude. In an essay about her new home in the New York Independent in August 1874, less than a year after her arrival, she reflected, “To-day I say, one could almost live on such a place alone.” “Almost” because she continued to love and pursue travel.

While mourning in Massachusetts, Helen Hunt had started to compose and publish poetry. Once she voyaged abroad, travelogues ensued. Her circle of friends in New England included Ralph Waldo Emerson, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Emily Dickinson, with whom she had attended boarding school in New York. They corresponded throughout Helen’s lifetime and she encouraged Emily to publish her poems in vain (they appeared only posthumously). Once settled in Colorado, Helen added novelist to her résumé. She belonged to an elite group of women authors able to make a living from their craft.

Colorado Springs, designed on a drawing board and in an early state of growth, did not yet offer many accommodations. Helen resided at the Colorado Springs Hotel, the settlement’s earliest, where she met fellow boarder William Sharpless Jackson. He was secretary and treasurer of the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad which, like Colorado Springs, had been founded by General William Jackson Palmer. Helen and Mr. Jackson’s friendship led to marriage in 1875.

Four years later, a lecture by Ponca Chief Standing Bear altered the course of Helen’s few remaining years. She researched the mistreatment of the Indians and became an outraged and outspoken activist on their behalf. In 1881, she distributed her critical treatise, A Century of Dishonor, to members of Congress. Though it remained largely unnoticed, it led to an assignment by Century Magazine to explore the situation of the Indians of the former Spanish missions in Southern California. She subsequently managed to have herself appointed a special agent by the Commissioner for Indian Affairs, and described the Indians’ pitiable living conditions and prospects. It also moved her to fictionalize their predicament. In a May 2, 1883 letter to the editor of the Atlantic Monthly she articulated her ambitions thus, “If I could write a story that would do for the Indians a thousandth part what Uncle Tom’s Cabin did for the Negro, I would be thankful for the rest of my life.”

In her novel Ramona, feverishly written in four months, and published in 1884, she conveyed her indignation. A tragedy about the ill-fated love between an American Indian man and a mixed-race Indian-Scottish woman, raised as an orphan by a family of Spanish-Mexican heritage, it delves into the racial prejudices and abuses suffered by the Indians of the Catholic missions in the former Mexican territory of California which was ceded to the United States after the Mexican-American War (1846-1848).

While the extent to which Helen Hunt’s reporting effected Indian policy reforms has been difficult to quantify, her novel Ramona became a literary bestseller. It has been in print since 1884, adapted for multiple film versions, and, since 1923, performed annually as a drama at the Ramona Pageants in Hemet, California.

Sadly, Helen’s death soon followed the birth of her masterpiece. I sincerely hope that the sale of more than 15,000 copies in the 10 months between its publication and her passing, was gratifying to her. True to her convictions till the end, she beseeched President Grover Cleveland to correct the wrongs inflicted on the Indians from her deathbed in California, where she was trying to recuperate. On August 2, 1885, she succumbed to presumptive stomach cancer at only 54, with William by her side.

Helen loved Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado Springs so much that her husband had remodeled their house to enable her to view it from her chambers. Now he honored her wish and buried her in the mountain’s shadow, at Inspiration Point near Seven Falls, already a tourist attraction in her days. She lay interred under a growing mound of rocks, lovingly placed by the hands of her many fans who pilgrimaged to the site.

Helen Hunt’s former resting place near Inspiration Point (with the wrong year of birth)

View of modern-day Colorado Springs from Helen Hunt’s former resting place near Inspiration Point

Eventually, she was relocated to the Jackson family plot at Evergreen Cemetery. It is consoling for her acolytes to know that her grave is the one closest to, and with a direct view of the mountain which she so cherished.

Helen Hunt’s resting place at Evergreen Cemetery, with a view of Cheyenne Mountain

When the city acquired the Jackson property in 1961 and the house was slated for demolition, the family donated portions of her domicile to the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum, which showcases four of Helen’s original rooms and furnishings in a permanent exhibition.

Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum

Portions of Helen Hunt’s dining room and library in the preserved rooms at the museum

Helen Hunt Jackson occupies a special place among the early citizens of Colorado Springs. Her indomitable spirit allowed her to overcome one blow of fate after another, and her American Indian activism was unusual for a woman of her era and social standing. In our local historic universe, she shines as one of the brightest stars.

Click here for the German version/klicken Sie bitte hier für die deutsche Version:

https://tanjaschimmel.wordpress.com/2017/07/13/die-ursprungliche-helen-hunt/

Helen Hunt’s portrait came from a photograph I took of a postcard issued by the Pikes Peak Library District. Photographer and date unknown.

The Handmaid’s Tale-Some Thoughts

When I read The Handmaid’s Tale in February 2017, little did I know how much this novel by contemporary Canadian author Margaret Atwood (born 1939) would be in the press a few months later. As it turned out, it was serialized for Hulu, a video on demand service, with the season premiere having been broadcast in late April. Because the title is so hot at present, I decided to join the fray.

The book was on my TBR list for a long time and I finally relented to my nagging literary conscience. The Handmaid’s Tale was my first exposure to a bestselling writer who has garnered too many literary honors to mention, and been nominated for many more. I am no particular fan of dystopian literature, and since my exposure to required classics like 1984, Brave New World, and Animal Farm in high school, I have not often delved into this genre. Even though I can’t claim to have liked Margaret Atwood’s story, I am, nonetheless, glad I read it.

Set in the Republic of Gilead, a futuristic, theocratic, totalitarian state (presumably the US), where environmental degradation has engendered infertility in many women, the ruling-class families keep “handmaids” for the sole purpose of procreation. These maids are put through a process of brainwashing and are not supposed to have their own thoughts or opinions. The novel’s “heroine”, if she deserves this title, is Offred. This translates to “Of Fred”, based on the name of the man she is assigned to, as she is not entitled to her own. Her only reason to exist is to bear healthy children to the so-called elites. To optimize the human birthing machine, her monthly hormonal fluctuations are minutely monitored. When the time is right, the handmaids undergo a ritual cleansing, before exposing only the prerequisite body part to their perpetrators, in a grotesque and dehumanizing “ceremony”.

Despite the system’s best efforts at enforcing subjugation and conformity, Offred remembers a life before the takeover. During an attempt to flee to a neighboring country (presumably Canada), she and her family were overtaken. Her husband was almost certainly assassinated, and her daughter abducted and adopted by one of the leading families. Offred’s dream of a reunion motivates her to keep on living, if that is what her existence can be called, instead of escaping it through suicide, a popular way out for many handmaids, despite the rulers best attempts at removing all means to effect it.

Offred’s hope is buoyed when she meets a fellow servant who, like herself, does not appear fully assimilated, even if she can’t be sure that this other woman is not a spy. Dissenters who are caught suffer a horrendous public execution portrayed in bone-chilling detail. When Offred is picked up by a van, the usual means of apprehending and transporting traitors to these show trials, neither she nor the reader knows if her captors represent friends or foes, and the tale culminates in this cliffhanger.

While I found it impossible to “enjoy” the nightmarish world created by Margaret Atwood, I enjoyed her masterful narrative style. The degree to which the choice and pace of language reflected Offred’s inner and outer life was remarkable. Her tedium and boredom were expressed by ambling phrases, her fear and panic by staccato-like sentences. Despite my constant sense of reluctance, the book was a page-turner.

The fear of totalitarian regimes, the loss of women’s rights, and the destruction of habitat is as relevant today as it was in 1985, when the novel was first published. Is it the responsibility of literature to address and elucidate current concerns, rather than to simply entertain? To prodesse aut delectare (instruct and delight), as Horace posited, or merely to delectare? What are your thoughts?

Click here for the German version/klicken Sie bitte hier für die deutsche Version:

https://tanjaschimmel.wordpress.com/2017/05/18/der-report-der-magd-eine-buchrezension

A Visit to Catherland

Willa Cather (1873-1947), one of my favorites among America’s great authors, spent her formative years between nine and sixteen in Red Cloud, in south-central Nebraska. The scenery of the Great Plains seared itself into her psyche and suffused much of her writing. She might be best known for her so-called prairie trilogy, which comprises O Pioneers! (1913), The Song of the Lark (1915), and My Ántonia (1918), but others among her twelve novels are redolent of that setting. In the early 20th century, when pioneer life along the American Frontier was not considered worthy of literary pursuit, Willa Cather broke the mold and became herself a pioneer, with regard to theme, women’s central roles in their spheres, and her hallmark prose, evocative of place.

Even though American Indians had survived, even thrived, in the challenging environment of the High Plains, for those on a quest to conquer the West following the Civil War, this land posed a conundrum. Unlike the agricultural areas in the eastern states and in Europe, it was seemingly barren. Many settlers concurred with the impression of the first explorers traversing the area in the wake of the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, who had referred to it as “The Great American Desert”.

For Willa herself, it wasn’t love at first sight. When she arrived in Nebraska’s Webster County in 1883 from her birthplace in Virginia, the transition from the green lushness to the semi-aridity of the High Plains was confounding. She reminisced later, “This country was mostly wild pasture and as naked as the back of your hand. I was little and homesick and lonely and my mother was homesick and nobody paid any attention. So the country and I had it out together and by the end of the first autumn, that shaggy grass country had gripped me with a passion that I have never been able to shake.” Her eventual fondness of the native flora is epitomized in a 1921 interview, “There is one book I would rather have produced than all of my novels. That is Clements Botany dealing with the wild flowers of the west.” While Willa Cather sings the praises of the raw beauty and intricate design of that carpet woven of native wildflowers and grasses, she simultaneously admires the soil’s arable potential and refers to the generosity of the earth willing to subject itself to the plow and to human industry, to yield a harvest that benefits humankind, provided it is treated with understanding and respect.

Sparked by my own acquaintance with a number of Willa Cather’s narratives, and fanned by my growing fascination with the Great Plains which also occupy a vast portion of Colorado, I finally fulfilled the long-held wish to make a literary pilgrimage to Red Cloud in October 2015. Thanks to the Willa Cather Foundation, it is possible to tour original sites and buildings important in the writer’s life which she immortalized in many of her stories, along with some of her contemporaries.

Willa Cather`s childhood home

Willa Cather`s bedroom in the unheated attic

The later Cather Family home. Willa wrote in the second floor bedroom whenever she visited Red Cloud.

Since nature plays such a prominent role in her work, I was profoundly moved by the Willa Cather Memorial Prairie. These 612 formerly overgrazed and herbicide-treated acres had, nonetheless, never been touched by a plow. Acquired by the Nature Conservancy in the 1970s, they were subsequently transferred to the Willa Cather Foundation. Located a short distance south of Red Cloud, they exemplify the successful restoration of a portion of original grassland. It is heartening to see a biome revert back to its original state, albeit only with a concerted effort. It took and still takes many hands to pull or burn invasive weeds and to reintroduce native grasses and wildflowers. Controlled intermittent grazing simulates the cyclical visitations by American bison when they still roamed vast regions of the continent.

Willa Cather Memorial Prairie

Like the pioneers who inhabited Willa Cather’s universe, the present-day caller is greeted by the picturesque prospect of rolling hills rippling in Nebraska’s relentless breeze. I am confident that she would embrace this natural treasure named in her honor. Just as we devotees want her stories and characters to live on, so should the landscape which gave them life.

Click here for the German version/klicken Sie bitte hier für die deutsche Version:

https://tanjaschimmel.wordpress.com/2017/04/20/ein-besuch-im-catherland/

Geraldine Brooks: Some Thoughts on her Books

I had my first encounter with the eloquent writing of Geraldine Brooks in her novel Year of Wonders (2001), about the 1666 outbreak of bubonic plague in Eyam, an English village. It brings the horrors of the epidemic alive through the eyes of the maid Anna whose life is derailed in unforeseen ways. She evolves from an exploited servant without rights to a powerful, independent woman, a transformation unthinkable without the horrendous happenings in her world. The breathtaking plot which is permeated with poetic currents aroused my curiosity about the author, and I have since read her entire oeuvre.

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Brooks (born 1955) started her career in journalism and her first books were non-fiction. Nine Parts of Desire (1994) deals with the lives and challenges of Muslim women in more or less misogynistic societies and is as relevant today as two decades ago. Foreign Correspondence (1997) celebrates her reunions with international pen pals from her childhood years in Australia, resulting in some very poignant moments. I find both works extremely well written and informative.

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Following the international bestseller, A Year of Wonders, her second novel, March (2005), soared even higher and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize. It envisions the experiences of the father of the March family from Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, during the American Civil War. Besides Ms. Alcott’s beloved classic, Geraldine Brooks credits her husband, fellow writer and civil war buff, Tony Horwitz, with the inspiration for the story.

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People of the Book (2008) imagines the convoluted journey of an actual illuminated manuscript, the Sarajevo Haggadah, a Jewish text used in the celebration of Passover Seder, which disappeared temporarily from the library in Sarajevo during the Bosnian War of the early 1990s. It portrays a fascinating account of Europe’s history between the close of the Middle Ages and the present.

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Caleb’s Crossing (2011) presents another female first person narrator, Bethia Mayfield, a Puritan girl in Martha’s Vineyard in 17th century Colonial America. Her missionary father wants to convert the local Wampanoag tribe to Christianity and tutors Caleb, son of a local leader, in order to enable him to enter Cambridge College as the first American Indian. Bethia, starved for education, steals snippets of information from her brother’s lessons from which she is excluded, and befriends Caleb. Both actions break many sacrosanct taboos of the era. She represents what might have been, had more colonists been more curious and less prejudiced about the original inhabitants of North America.

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Even though I anticipated Brooks’s most recent publication in 2015 and purchased it soon thereafter, I did not actually read it until a few weeks ago which prompted me to put down these reflections. The Secret Chord details the age of the biblical King David and his large entourage about 1000 BC. It arcs from his childhood, characterized by his father’s and brothers’ contempt, to his rise from shepherd to King Saul’s protégé, after his slaying of Goliath, to his own career as King of a united Judah and Israel. Guided by the prophet Natan, who is able to foresee calamity, but not forestall it, David is human — with human strengths and foibles. Tribal and family feuds are brought on by polygamy, adultery, incest, warfare, treachery, fratricide and several attempts at regicide, yet it ends on a conciliatory note, namely the crowning of King Solomon, David’s son, and with the promise of a brighter and more peaceful future. While the writing characteristically is a mixture of suspenseful action and lyrical reflection on nature’s beauty, and David’s legendary skills as a poet and accomplished harpist, I could have done without the vivid descriptions of brutal dismemberments and disembowelments, and the lurid portrayal of a violent rape.

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Geraldine Brooks has a predilection for historical fiction which corresponds to my own. Her extremely well-researched stories bring events, people, and even the language of bygone times to a luminous life. I can’t wait for the future fruits of her pen, and for the comments of other fans.

Click here for the German version/klicken Sie bitte hier für die deutsche Version :

https://tanjaschimmel.wordpress.com/2017/02/02/geraldine-brooks-bucherrezension/

My 2016 Pulitzer Reading List

It is easy to feel overwhelmed by the ever-growing canon of literature. Like many readers, I whittle away at the “classics”, and I am (very) slowly making progress (see my review of Don Quixote), but I also want to keep up with more recent publications. To familiarize myself with “good” American writing, I opted to explore prose which has garnered a Pulitzer Prize, even though several alternative book honors might be substituted as guides to excellence.

Joseph Pulitzer immigrated to the United States from Hungary in the 19th century and became a journalist and newspaper publisher. The eponymous prizes are funded from his bequest to Columbia University in New York. The Pulitzer for the Novel was established in 1917, but was first granted in 1918, and was later renamed Pulitzer for Fiction. Because it was skipped in some years, as of the beginning of 2017, there have been 89 recipients, with the 90th expected to be announced in May. My journey through the Pulitzer realm has been haphazard, as I don’t follow a thematic or chronologic order. So far I have been guided by tomes already in my library. In 2016, I enjoyed the following three titles.

After my acquaintance with A Room of One’s Own, Virginia Woolf’s seminal essay about the challenges facing women writers, and her influential Mrs. Dalloway, I felt prepared to immerse myself in Michael Cunningham’s 1999 winner, The Hours. A modern-day re-interpretation of Mrs. Dalloway which bears the title originally intended for it, it is similarly intriguing and disturbing as the original, stream-of-consciousness narrative. The parallel and intertwined stories afford glimpses into the lives of Virginia Woolf, her novel’s protagonist, Clarissa Dalloway, transported into contemporary times, and a woman in the 1950s whose perusal of Mrs. Dalloway alters her reality. If you enjoy unforeseen surprises and plot twists, you are in for a treat. I am aware of the 2002 Oscar-garnering movie version starring Nicole Kidman, Julianne Moore, and Meryl Streep, but despite this cast, I have resisted the temptation to view it. In the vast majority of cases, I am disappointed by film versions of literary works, and the images on the screen have a tendency to overshadow those that arose in my own imagination.

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The 2015 recipient, Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See, sat on my shelf for nearly two years, but once I flipped over the first few pages of this story set in occupied France during World War II, there was no putting it back until I had suffered and cried with its main actors, even with some of the bad guys. It revolves around a French blind girl and a German orphan turned radio engineer. Their paths are swept up by the maelstrom of the war, and even though they only meet briefly toward the end, their lives have been interconnected much longer, without their knowing. This book illuminates the importance of characters who are complete human beings with motivations the reader can relate to, even if they prove to be monsters in some regard. As devastating as it might be, it at least left me with a sense of closure and a glimmer of hope.

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Pearl S. Buck who grew up in China thanks to her missionary parents and who went on to become a Nobel Laureate, received the Pulitzer in 1932 for The Good Earth. When I chose it from my collection, I was skeptical about the relevance of a farmer’s fate in pre-revolutionary China, but once I allowed the slightly archaic yet very lyrical language to wash over me, like a good summer’s rain, the leisurely action kept me absorbed. To illustrate humanity’s strength and weaknesses in the destiny of one person is remarkable, as is the protagonist’s insight that, despite wealth and progress, his existence is only worthwhile when lived in closeness with nature, the soil, the good earth, upon which our well-being depends. A timeless truth, and more relevant today than possibly ever. As I have since found out, this opus is the first part of a trilogy, though I have not tackled the sequels.

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Each of these gems is worthwhile to study again, but with only 11 down, and 78 (soon 79) to go, I am open to suggestions for my next read. Also, if you are familiar with any of the works mentioned above, I would love to hear your impressions.

Click here for the German version/klicken Sie bitte hier für die deutsche Version:

https://tanjaschimmel.wordpress.com/2017/01/05/meine-pulitzer-leseliste-2016/

For the Love of Books

When I realize that my sojourn in Germany coincides with the Frankfurt Book Fair, there is no question in my mind that I will attend. Despite living in Germany for the first two decades of my life, in those years I either lacked the opportunity, or the curiosity.

The annual five-day affair is tailored to facilitate the interaction between publishers and sellers, but the doors also open to the public for the last two days. It is a dream for any bibliophile. I delight in being surrounded by my favorite (and humanity’s most enduring) medium in myriad shapes, sizes, and languages, encompassing the gamut of fiction and non-fiction. One chosen country is featured in detail during each fair, and this year’s Guest of Honor is the Netherlands and Flanders, the Dutch-speaking region of Belgium.

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From Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, Icelandic Sagas, to modern-day global megahits, such as the eighth (and supposedly final) installment of Harry Potter, one gains an inkling of the breadth and depth of humankind’s literary accomplishments. Visitors range from children to seniors, attesting to the abiding appeal of books. The peaceful gathering of individuals originating from numerous nations, cultures, and religions, and our shared adoration of the printed word strengthens my belief in Homo sapiens, our common interests and ideals. The only shadow of this overall enchanting world results from the awareness that there is no way to taste even a fraction of the perpetual stream of novel tomes and volumes of literature.

As soon as I arrive at the venue, I regret my decision to leave my camera at home. In addition to the beautiful displays, it would have been fun to record various attendees dressed as their favorite character, a visual proof of the powerful sway of our imaginary realms. I am grateful to have shared this madness with circa 277,000 fellow addicts, united by our mutual love of books. After all, there are multiple less edifying addictions.

Click here for the German Version/klicken Sie bitte hier für die deutsche Version:

https://tanjaschimmel.wordpress.com/2016/11/03/aus-liebe-zum-buch/