More bloody foreigners lunch

hardys brasserie

Well Last month when I was in London Daniela from Europa editions and Susan from Istros books mentioned this event was happening and it would be great if I could come ,as I can usually only afford one trip to London a year I had to turn them down ,then Daniela said they may have the money to get me a train ticket to come for the Lunch .I said I’d love too and thanked them very much ,so yesterday I boarded the train to London arrived just about in time as we ran a bit late ,dashed across london on the tube to Baker street and then  walked to Hardy’s.

a dark song of blood

Three of the writers from the event the night before were there .Ben Pastor ,whom I only got to talk to briefly is Italian writer ,who lives in America and her books are about the German Detective Martin Bora .Her latest is A dark song of Blood   ,her books are published by Bitter Lemon Press who are this year celebrating ten years of publishing Frank their publisher was saying ,they had put their first book out ten years ago .

The art of killing well

Now I got more chance to talk to the other two writers ,I was sat away from the writers  initially but swapped seats ,sat next too Jake Kerridge ,who is the Crime reviewer for the Telegraph on one side and then Andrej Nikolaidis on the other ,opposite was Marco Malvaldi ,I have just read his book the Art of Killing well ,that Maclehose press ,Europa editions have brought out another book by him game for five in their World Noir series  .Marco was quizzed about the food by Barry Forshaw who was sat next too him ,Marco was Polite but this lead into a mention of how Pellegrino Artusi the character of his Book the art of Killing Well ,he was a successful businessman whom later in his life decided to write a book about the food he loved ,because he loved eating and had a wonderful cook but then discovered no-one had written down how to make these dishes  .So Pellegrino spent time travelling round Italy writing this book ,which he initially published as a book for his friends then for friends of friends then an Italian publisher got hold of this book and ask to publish it ,it became an instant bestseller and was in nearly every Italian household at the turn of the century .Marco book is set just as Pellegrino has finished his journey round Italy and is spending the weekend at the house of a Baron ,whilst there the Butler is killed and Pellegrino helps find the killer .I also quizzed Marco about his thoughts on the forthcoming England italy match over the weekend .

the-coming-front-cover1

Now to the last writer ,but actually the first I spoke to on Arrival I saw Susan from Istros book she said Andrej Nikolaidis was outside so I went and had a smoke with Andrej and introduced myself ,I have reviewed both his book The coming and The son  , he also wrote a piece for my Thomas Bernard week about his shared love of the Austrian writer Thomas Bernard  .Andrej spoke to me about Bernard ,football ,putting together his playlists for his books which I had put together on a playlist on spotify .The meal was lovely I had a game terrine followed by Roast pork and finished off with a Chocolate fondant and coffee .I then spent afternoon wandering across London with Susan and Andrej ,talking books ,Tirana ,Kadare ,Russia and the Ukraine some  great stories from Andrej about writers and events around Europe some of  which  were quite eye-opening .We also bumped into two other writers from the Balkans (Not every day you bump into the cream of European lit  which had just arrived for an event today called Balkans day and we finished off with Moroccan mint tea in the cafe near Istros books office at red lion square  chatting away .A lovely day which for me showed the power of books in translation ,the way on one level we can all connected via novels about crime as Violence is violence wherever !  Many thanks for the Art council with out whom I wouldn’t have been able to have come yesterday .

Catching the old how to adding depth to my blog and a new site from english pen

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I love translation as every one knows ,but part of the problem with me and the blog is constant thinking I think most days about how to do this that and the other .Mainly just way to improve how and what I blog ,one of the main thing I feel is lacking is depth in the content I have reviewed a lot of books in translation but the coverage tends to be in the last five years .I constantly feel there is gaps ,no Albert  Camus ,One Jorge Luis borges story ,One Umberto Eco novel ,a couple of Grass ,not enough African fiction in Translation  and so on and so on the list is virtually endless as is the job of this blog .It’s great reading the Current but for this to work as a real resource I need to add depth to the books under review ,so I need to start adding a few reread books  in my reading pile  and plundering my piles of second-hand buys  in an attempt to build a canon of world lit fill in my gaps in reading ,form a network of how literature has evolved world-wide how book a in say Argentina has had a visible effect on book b from Iraq say ,in building this knowledge and connections here it will make a better resource ,that said I struggle to avoid new reads ,a point I was discussing with Dan from Utterbiblio the other day but as this year I seemed to be reading a book or two more a month ,I will try to fit these older books in .My question is how do you avoid the shiny and New and do you endlessly by books and then have them on shelves for months and months ?

In other news English pen has launched a new website on books in Translation called world bookshelf in partnership with Foyles here ,A number of the English pen associated books mentioned on the site can be found here under review .Like The ravens to name one ,it also has a blog attach to it with post by translators ,the first post is about the rise in translation ,the small rise we as readers need to help climb to an acceptable level of books published in translation ,for me 4.5% isn’t enough we need to get folks reading the wonderful books on this site and out there and let publishers know they can translate more .

Women in translation

I had initially mention doing a best of 2013 ,but have since decide to bring ten female writers in translation I have enjoyed on the blog .I like many others would love to see a few more female writers translated ,I probably do have a slight bias of reading male writers ,but have in recent times tried to add a few more female writers in translation to my reading .As it international women’s day it seem a great time to share some of my favourite female writers and there books from around the world .I will keep trying to add female writers in translation to the blog .

sidewalksValeria Luiselli is a Mexican writer I have reviewed two of her books on the blog .Sidewalks and Faces in the crowd .Sidewalks is a series of essays mainly about cites and walking .Faces in a crowd set in new york is a novel about a women an old poet and writing a wonderful book .Valeria is my favourite female writer in translation .

stones in a landslideIts hard to believe this was one of the first books from Peirene and it is one I still think of a lot ,stones in a landslide is a story of Conxa her life in the small villages of the pyrenees .

The rest is silenceNow top chile and Carla Guelfenbein one of the rising stars of Latin American fiction .We follow Tommy a young boy ,whose mother has died ,as he uncovers what really happened to her .

revenge by Yoko OgawaNow Yoko Ogawa writes dark short stories I have reviewed two of her books on the blog Revenge and diving pool .I loved revenge its clever series of recurring motifs and other worldliness makes it a stunning collection .

Train-to-Budapest-Maraini-DaciaNow Dacia Maraini is a name that wheneveer the Nobel prize betting appears ranks high ,she is an Italian writer I have only reviewed train to Budapest on the blog .But have three more I need to get to over the next year or so including Silent duchess her best known book .

summer bookNow I was a later comer to Tove Jansson I had read a moomin book as a kid but it wasn’t til I started Blogging I discovered her adult books .She wrote two books summer and winter book about her life on a small island both are gems .

hunger angelNow the German writer  Herta Muller has won the Nobel prize and is another of my favourite female writers ,I have reviewed Nadirs ,the passport  and her most recent book The hunger angel .Her books look over the dark past of communism and her use of language is very unique .

Until-Thy-Wrath-Be-PastAsa Larsson is one of the best Nordic crime writers I have review her book Until thy wrath be past one of the series she has written about Rebecca Martinsson .

trieste dasa drndicDasa Drndic book was shortlist for the IFFP last year it is the story of a women born under the lebensborn programm of Nazi regime ,but also the history of the Italian Jews during the war a list of every Jew from Italy that died is a strong reminder of what happened .

ekaterinfrontcover_50b7770928f02I ve lastly picked Marija Knezevic a Serbian writer for her book Ekaterini follows the history of the Balkans but also what it was to be a women during those times .

So there is ten female writers in translation ,I could added lots more maybe if you could suggest some ? that would be great .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The people in the photo by Hélène Gestern

the-people-in-the-photo

The people in the photo by Hélène Gestern

French fiction

Original title – Eux sur la photo

Translation by Emily Boyce and Ros Schwartz

Source – review copy

Hélène Gestern is a French writer she is based in Nancy in France is a teacher and researcher at a laboratory studying linguistics   .She is also on the editorial committee of a literary review magazine dedicate to autobiographical writing .Her interest are photography and cats .This is her first book to be translated to English.

                                                              Ashford ,25 march 2007

Madame / Monsieur

I have only just read your advertisement ref 248 .22o in the Libération of 12 February

I believe I may have some information concerning the person you are inquiring about :I am convinced it is my father , who often used to spend his summers in Interlaken .I am enclosing the photocopy of his Geneva Tennis club membership card from the 1960’s ,which I have found among his papers .You will see his photograph on it

Could you tell me how you obtained his name and why you are seeking information about him

Yours faithfully

S.Crusten

The first letter to Hélène from Stéphane that starts their journey .

 

The people in the photo is an epistolary novel .The book starts when    Hélène an archivist discovers a photo of her late  mother and two men the photo was taken in 1971 at a tennis tournament in Interlaken .Armed with this info she puts an advert in the French newspaper Libération with the names on the back of the photo and is shocked when she gets a reply from Stéphane a swiss biologist that is based in Kent ,he believes it is his father is one of the two men with Hélène’s late mother .This is the basis of the book the letters that follow try to find out what happened between the parents at the time ,try to get to the bottom of how Hélène’s mother died .

                                                    Paris , 17 Febuary (email)

Dear Stéphane

As if you had to ask ! I will yes ,as molly bloom would say , come with you to Geneva .And we can stop off to see Jean on the way back : I’m dying to meet him .Did the nurse tell you exactly what happened ?

I’ll be waiting for you at the flat on Friday .You know the way ,but you’ll need th new magic number b220

A tender kiss

Hélène

AS you see they draw closer over the course of a year of writing to each other .

Now the book is an exploration of find out the secrets that can be kept from kids by their parents .The two main characters each in turn discover more about their parents than they wanted .The choosing of the epistolary form shows that even given the change from letters to e mails it still shows how the tension can be built from mail to mail as these two uncover the long-lost secrets of the past .Each some how finds out where they came from ,discover what problems can happen when there parents may have had a liaison in the past and what does this mean for the two of them now because although they have been drawn together by chance they actually start to like each other as the go on the journey of discovery .Photos play an important part in the book Hélène Gestern brings the pictures in this book to life in the prose as we see the family snaps of the two pass and the past come alive .This is one for loves of family secrets it is full of them ,loves of photos and if you are like me and see a picture and build your own narrative around it this is one for you ,how often have you found or seen a picture and wonder what happened then and what happened at the time ,also a book for the fan of the epistolary form .I will soon have a q&a with Hélène Gestern .

Have you a favourite epistolary novel ?

A video treat Valeria Luiselli

I saw this on facebook the other day posted by Daniel Hahn it is an interview with the Mexican writer Valeria Luiselli in english about her book .I have reviewed two books by her 

 

Translation Laureate ?

Just a quick thought after listening to open book the radio four show about books .Where they had three children’s laureate on talking about the work they had done promoting children’s literature .This set me thinking why isn’t the a translation Laureate ? We talk about not knowing what to read or books getting under promoted now if everyone could get behind one person a well known writer or figure in the lit world and they could advocate the beauty and variety of fiction in translation and do this around the country get a grass roots surge of people really showing interest in literature in translation . What do you think ? Who could do this great task ?

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Stoner ,stoner how many translations could be discovered like stoner

Well unless you’ve been under a rock for last couple of years .you won’t have missed the rise and rise of Stoner a slow climber a writer book it is said ,I enjoyed it but maybe not as much as others the style had the soft spoken style you find in a number of European writers ,this as I start considering a review of stoner , set me thinking of how many stoners are out there either translated and out of print or not even translated ? For me the answer is more than we imagine every year sees a few gems that have been waiting for a publisher to take a dive to translate or a publisher to reissue people like pushkin press , Peirene ,NYRB , Dalkey archive and twisted spoon have in recent years all discover gems Walser ,Zweig , Fallada , Vanderbeke to name a few of many .I’ve been buying and looking at books towards my century of translation project and am amazed what has been translated and fallen out of print .So let’s hope the next stoner is a translation and sets about a wave of rediscovery of lost writers from around the world ?
have you a writer in translation you think should be highlighted ?

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Humbooks 2014 my choices for Lisa

Well a very happy Christmas from Winston and I .I am virtual gifting books again this year was so happy when I got an E mail from Lisa saying she would love to be partnered with me this year to swap virtual books around this christmas tree so I have thought long and hard of something different to give Lisa SO here are my choices for Lisa -

Public-Enemies

Public enemies by Michel Houuellebecq and Bernard Henri-Levy

I have read and not reviewed this book  as i want to fully read it twice before reviewing it and think like me it is one Lisa will find a lot in ,the book consists of a series of e-mail exchanged between these two great intellects ,they talk about everything but it is a lot about themselves and the books and ideas they love a unique glimpse into the French mind . Also the Houellebecq section was translated by Frank Wynne .

Khirbet Khizeh by s Yizhar

Khirbet Khizeh by S .Yizhar

I have reviewed this book a few years ago on the blog it is considered a classic of modern Hebrew literature it follow a troop of seven men as they attack a small Palestine village in the Israeli,this is one day in the conflict a short intense shot of the war ,S Yizhar went on to serve in the Israeli government and did also write the epic Days of Ziglag ,which hopefully will reach us in English someday soon and I’m hoping that if Lisa loves this she will join me in reading the 1100 page book that follows seven days in the conflict and is considered the best book of modern Hebrew literature (a question is why we will have to wait over 40 years to read when it comes out in English ?)

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Pascal Garnier

My last choice isn’t a single book but a selection of books from the darkly witty late french writer Pascal Garnier .I have reviewed two so far and read the other two available in english .I think Lisa will love his dark humour and the world he describes ,my favourite was A26 a brother and sister fight the oncoming of the modern world as best they can .

Now I will be cheeky and choose two for the host of this event -

For Emma

encylopedia of snow

Encyclopaedia Of Snow by Sarah Emily Miano

I did pick this as my book that needs a wider audience a few years ago on Kim’s reading matters blog .Miano was a student of Sebald at Uea and this was her debut novel it takes the form of a journal that has been found in the snow about snow a collection of piece poems clippings form a great piece of digression fiction in the style of Sebald

For Guy 

raid and the blackest sleep

Raid and the Blackest sheep by Harri Nykanen

For Guy I struggled to find something but then remember I had review a noirish Finnish crime book over a year ago that Guy might enjoy Raid and the blackest sheep follows a criminal that is a hitman but with a moral code and in this book is sorting out some wrongs at the time I compared him to the Saint but he is darker .Also I will do a bonus for guy as I know he loves noir crime and that is to point him in the direction of the podcast down these mean streets ,a podcast I have been following for about seven months that plays old radio detectives .What makes this one stand out is the guy that runs it gives great info on the shows and it also has a killer jazz intro to it .

So once again Thanks to the site Freelang  one worth looking at many great piece on translations and will give you free translations

TRANSLATION
AFRIKAANS geseënde Kersfees
ALBANIAN gëzuar Krishtlindja
ALSATIAN gleckika Wïanachta
ARABIC ميلاد مجيد (miilaad majiid)
ARMENIAN Shnorhavor Surb tsnund
AZERI Noel bayraminiz mubarak
BASQUE Eguberri on
BELARUSIAN З Божым нараджэннем (Z Bozym naradzenniem)
BENGALI subho baradin
BOSNIAN sretan Božić
BRETON Nedeleg laouen
BULGARIAN весела коледа (vesela koleda)
BURMESE Christmas nay hma mue pyaw pa
CATALAN bon Nadal
CH’TI joïeux Noé
CHEROKEE ulihelisdi danisdayohihvi
CHINESE 圣诞快乐 (shèng dàn kuài lè)
CORNISH Nadelek lowen
CORSICAN bon Natale
CROATIAN sretan Božić
CZECH veselé Vánoce
DANISH glædelig jul
DHOLUO bedgi sikuku maber
DUTCH vrolijk Kerstfeest
ENGLISH merry Christmas
ESPERANTO gojan Kristnaskon
ESTONIAN häid jõule
FAROESE gleðilig jól
FILIPINO Maligayang Pasko
FINNISH hyvää joulua
FRENCH joyeux Noël
FRISIAN noflike Krystdagen
FRIULAN bon nadâl
GALICIAN bo Nadal
GEORGIAN gilocav shoba axal wels
GERMAN frohe Weihnachten / fröhliche Weihnachten
GREEK Καλα Χριστούγεννα (kala christougenna / kala xristougenna)
HAITIAN CREOLE jwaye Nowel
HAWAIIAN mele Kalikimaka
HEBREW חג מולד שמח (hag molad saméa’h)
HINDI Krismas ki subhkamna
HUNGARIAN boldog karácsonyt
ICELANDIC gleðileg jól
IGBO annuri Ekeresimesi
ILOCANO naragsak a paskua
INDONESIAN selamat Natal
IRISH GAELIC Nollaig shona
ITALIAN buon Natale
JAVANESE sugeng Natal
JAPANESE merii kurisumasu
KABYLIAN tameghra tameggazt
KHMER រីក​រាយ​បុណ្យ​ណូអ៊ែល (rik reay bon Noel)
KINYARWANDA Noheli nziza
KIRUNDI Noheli nziza
KOREAN 메리크리스마스
KURDISH Noela we pîroz be
LAO souksan van Christmas
LATIN felix dies Nativitatis
LATVIAN priecīgus Ziemassvētkus
LIANGMAI mathabou Christmas
LIGURIAN bón dênâ / bón natâle
LITHUANIAN su Kalėdomis / linksmų Kalėdų
LOW SAXON vrolik Kersfees
LUXEMBOURGEOIS schéi Chrëschtdeeg
MACEDONIAN среќен Божиќ (srećen Božić, formal) / Христос се роди (Hristos se rodi, informal) / Навистина се роди (Navistina se rodi, as a reply to the informal greeting)
MALAGASY tratry ny Krismasy / arahabaina tratry ny Krismasy / arahaba tratry ny Krismasy
MALAY selamat hari natal
MALAYALAM Christmas ashamshagal
MALTESE il-milied it-tajjeb / milied hieni
MANX Nollick ghennal
MAORI meri Kirihimete
MIZO Krismas chibai
MONÉGASQUE bon Natale
MONGOLIAN zul sariin bayariin mend hurgie
NORMAN jostous Noué
NORMAN (JÈRRIAIS) bouan Noué
NORWEGIAN god jul
OCCITAN bon Nadal
OROMO baga ayyaana dhaloota Kiristoos isin ga’e
PAPIAMENTU bon pasku
PERSIAN کریسمس مبارک (Christmas mobaarak)
POLISH wesołych świąt bożego Narodzenia
PORTUGUESE feliz Natal
ROMANI baxtalo Krečuno
ROMANIAN un Crăciun fericit
RUKIGA Noheiri nungi / webale Noheiri
RUSSIAN с Рождеством Христовым (S rozhdestvom Khristovym)
SAMOAN ia manuia le Kerisimasi
SARDINIAN bona pasca’e Nadale (logudorese) / bona paschixedda (campidanese)
SCOTTISH GAELIC Nollaig chridheil
SERBIAN Христос се роди (Hristos se rodi)
SHONA Krisimas yakanaka
SILESIAN Radosnych godów
SINDHI Chrismas joon wadhayoon
SINHALESE suba nattalak wewa
SLOVAK vesele vianoce
SLOVENIAN vesel božič / vesele božične praznike
SOBOTA dobro dedek
SPANISH feliz Navidad
SRANAN switi Krisneti
SWAHILI heri la Krismasi
SWEDISH God Jul
TAGALOG Maligayang Pasko
TAHITIAN ‘ia ‘oa’oa e teie Noera
TAMIL கிறிஸ்மஸ் தின நல் வாழ்த்துக்கள் (Krismas dina nal vaagethoukkal)
TELUGU Krismas shubhakankshalu
THAI สุขสันต์วันคริสต์มาส (souksaan wan Christmas)
TONGAN mele Kilisimasi
TSWANA (SETSWANA) Keresemose sentle
TURKISH Noeliniz kutlu olsun
UDMURT Shuldyr Ymuśton
UKRAINIAN З Різдвом Христовим (Z Rizdvom Khrystovym) / Щасливого Різдва Христового (ʃtʃaslyvogo rizdva Hrystovogo)
VIETNAMESE Mừng Chúa Giáng Sinh
WALOON (“betchfessîs” spelling) djoyeus Noyé
WELSH Nadolig llawen
WEST INDIAN CREOLE jénwèl
YIDDISH אַ גוטע ניטל (a gute nitl)
YORUBA e kun odun Keresimesi
ZULU UKhisimusi omuhl

The Mirror of Beauty by Shamsur Rahman Faruqi

the mirror of beauty

The Mirror of Beauty by Shamsur Rahman Faruqi

Urdu fiction

Translated from Urdu by the writer himself

Source – copy via Musharraf Ali Farooqi

Well I have raved about this Epic written by the renowned Urdu Literary critic , publisher and editor Shamsur Rahman Faruqi .He is the publisher of the well-known Indian Lit journal Shakhoon .This is his debut novel but he has in the past published a four volume study of the well-known poet Taqi Mir .The reason I held of on my review of the book is a feeling that this book would at some point get a Uk release but a few months on it seems not yet and I really want to share my love of this book .Which for me is easily the best piece of Indian fiction since and if  not even better than midnight children .

Wazir Khanam ,ALSO and perhaps better known as Choti Begam (Younger lady ) , was born around 1811 .She was the third and youngest daughter of Muhammad Yusuf ,maker of plain gold ornaments .She was born in Delhi but Muhammad Yussuf was not native to Delhi .His ancestors were from Kashmir .How and when these people reached Delhi , and what befell them in Delhi is a very long story .

The intro to the book explains where Wazir came from .

The novel is set just as India is changing the East India  company is gaining a foothold and the Mughal’s are still about  but their power is on the wain .We see this world through the eyes of Wazir Khanam ,she is a rare beauty and a rare women .Through the book she takes two lovers , also has two husbands along the way gives birth too a number of children among those is  Dagh a well-known poet .But this is his mother’s story she is a women that has lovers from both sides of the India she lives in both  British and Indian .She is almost a new women, not a figure we have been portrayed in other books about Indian  in this time ,no this is a strong-willed women that loves her life and her world and likes to be in control of it as much as she can .She first meets and marries a charismatic English man  called Blake, so  she moves away from Delhi but the marriage ends when he is killed and she returns to that  city .She then meets Nawab Khan and she also has many other lovers .This also sounds like a well lived but actually Wazir life is a battle and a lot of her loves end badly .But she loves her world the world she lives in is moving from the regal Mughal empire into the commerce and chaos at times of the British and the East India company .We see a world of painters ,carpet makers ,the desert of India  to the valleys of Khasmir and finally the chaos of the Metropolis Delhi through one women ,her husband ,lovers and children .We she her effect on the world a ripples in time and the people she touched and her family touch move in this changing India ,rather like the children born on the stroke of midnight in Rushdie’s midnight children Wazir and her family and friends move the world  of their time .

It took a great deal of argument before Wazir could persuade Marston Blake to approve the name Badshah Begam for their first daughter ,He refused to consider any other name than Sophia ,a name that identified her as a Christian .After a great amount of discussion in the first instance , he agreed to Masih Jan a name that was vaguely Muslim and could also be taken as Christian .

She cross the western and Asian world so well at times and fought for what she believed in

Well as you see this book some how captures a world now gone and little written about  .Faruqi is like an Indian dickens ,or even Hillary Mantel the lives touched in this book are the ones you don’t know a lot about ,the ones just down from the top Nobel men ,high-ranking officials but not the big ones ,but people near the top and how this women effect them and her .He captures a world I  loved that of the Darlymple books. But he brings it  to life of the page .I feel the fact he took six years to translate from his original Urdu book to this  English translation has made every word seem as thou they were written originally in English it is flawless .I feel this is maybe the greatest Indian novel and feel my heart sink that it isn’t even getting an Uk issue you can buy it via Amazon and I strongly urge you to buy it as like me you will no doubt be blown away by its beauty and world .Faruqi really weaves 19th century India he said in an interview his love of Urdu poetry at the time lead to the figure of Wazir and as he wrote he check up facts and built the story that way .I really enjoyed the arts and crafts described in the book from poets to carpet makers their jobs and lives opened up .

The Black spider by Jeremias Gotthelf A Halloween german lit month treat

the black spider

The Black Spider by Jeremias Gotthelf

German Gothic Fiction

Original title Die Schwarze spinne

Translator – H M Waidson

Source personnel copy

Jeremias Gotthelf was a swiss pastor and writer ,His actual name was Albert Bitzius ,he was educated in Bern wre he founded the second oldest Swiss fraternity ,before becoming a pastor and then in his thirties he took up writing .He used the Bernese countryside and his strong religious beliefs in his books .

Christine had been gleefully watching everything outside in the field .The sun might burn hot as she worked at the heavy labour ,but the spider hardly burned any more at all .

The devil made his mark  on her .

The book focus on the people in a Bernese village ,we start at a farm where a baptism is in full swing ,then we get an unbaptized baby that  is kissed by a hunter and this kiss cause a black mark to appear and she is touched by the devil this Christine .So there is now a pact between the village and the devil that leads to years and years of godless behaviour ,when at some point this falls apart a plague of spiders swarms around the village  and they now need god to come back and save them .That is the barest bones of this tale it is a real quest between good and evil between god and the devil in tit many faces .

Next to the church was the inn , for these two institutions so often stand close to one another , sharing joy and suffering together , and what is more , in all honour .

But are they hand in hand

Well that is it in part this book has a really twisted narrative style one could almost say it has an old testament feel to it selling pone soul to the devil and it having a bad outcome all sounds like the wrathful god of the old testament  .This at times seems like a Sunday sermon that he may have told round Halloween to scare the kids and adults into god fearing Christians ,But that said Robert Johnson was said to have sold his soul to the devil and he did make some great music ,.But we also get a feel of traditional Germanic folk tales with figure like the hunter and a knight appearing in the story ,also the selling of a soul to a devil has been a recurring motif in a lot of German fiction around this time and before even Faust for Example .Then there is also the way Gotthelf describes the village the church and the inn next to one another has a slight feel of temperance movement and is the godless behaviour connected to the drink .This has been a great read for Halloween one for a dark evening and a quick check to see if there isn’t a spider about to jump on me like Robert smith in the video .I read the Oneworld classic copy of this book with a 1958 translation ,I know NYRB classics has just issued a new translation which I hope to read and compare as I felt the choice of words and way the story unfold was a little stayed at times .

Have you a favourite Halloween read ?

 

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