We had a lively discussion in Marbach about high-school education in the classical languages in the GDR. Grünbein says he took a year and a half of Latin, and he also seems to have taken a course at a Volkshochschule somewhere (though the reference to that is more glancing). Reviews of his translation of Seneca's Thyestes vary considerably in their evaluations of this translation: one reviewer says that it contains many serious errors.
I'm back to thinking about Durs Grünbein again. I'll be attending a conference at Marbach in a couple of weeks' time, where I'll be speaking on Grünbein's "antique dispositions." Grünbein uses this phrase as the title of a book of essays, where it functions both as an allusion to Shakespeare's Hamlet ('antic disposition') and a reference to Grünbein's own interests in classical antiquity. In the mid-1990s, motifs from classical antiquity appear repeatedly in his poems, alongside translations from Seneca and Aeschylus. What sources did he draw on? How well does he know classical languages?
My course on German translation has led me into new territory: Entenhausen. German fans of Donald Duck, "Donaldisten," know that the first translator of the Disney comics into German was Erika Fuchs, whose invention of such expressive words as "seufz!" permanently changed the German language. How did people manage for so long without these "Erikative"? My favorite of all her work is her rendering of a passage from Coleridge. In a quiz show, Donald is asked to cite the last two lines of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.
Martin Walser is in Cambridge and Boston for several days. On Monday, he spoke at the Center for European Studies, pulling together some ideas from essays of his on the problem of criticism.
In the wake of the Walser-Bubis debate, he remains defensive on this topic. Of course, the art of the "Verriss" is more consciously cultivated in the German book-review scene. The audience at CES was largely German-speaking, and there were interested questions from the floor. Walser's responses were very guarded.
Pavel Schmidt's exciting and innovative artistic response to the works of Kafka was celebrated at the opening ceremony to an exhibition in the Sert Gallery at the Carpenter Center, Harvard University, on Thursday September 19. In addition to brief talks by four Kafka specialists, the artist inducted the audience into his sense of the key workings of Kafka's texts. The exhibition is still up, and it's a must-see for anyone interested in Kafka and Kafka reception.
I'm attaching a couple of images to whet your appetite, but they look even better in the original.
The documentary on Sebald that I mentioned in a previous entry, Grant Gee's "Patience," is discussed in a New York Times article on the New York Film festival. A reflection on Sebald's book Die Ringe des Saturn, the film is "both an essay in interpretation and an attempt to replicate the writer’s distinctive, elusive sensibility in a visual medium," the Times notes. It aims to be "tries to be both descriptive and immersive, explaining its subject even as it reproduces aspects of his style." I can't wait to see this film.
Who could have known that the Rilke conference would be so inspiring? The workshops, in which we dicussed individual poems and their contexts were splendid. The only problem was that there were always three workshops running parallel, so we had to make a choice. But once I was in the workshop I had selected, everything else paled in comparison with the intelligent and thoughtful discussion. I think we all learned a huge amount from these workshops. We also profited from the keynote speeches.