A Minute’s silence by Siegried Lenz
Original title – Schweigeminute
Translator – Anthea Bell
Source – personnel copy
What will you do when the war is over, tender comrade
When we lay down our weary guns
When we return home to our wives and families
And look into the eyes of our sons
What will you say of the bond we had, tender comrade
Will you say that we were brave
As the shells fell all around us
Or that we wept and cried for our mothers
And cursed our fathers
For forgetting that all men are brothers
Will you say that we were heroes
Or that fear of dying among strangers
Tore our innocence and false shame away
And from that moment on deep in my heart I knew
That I would only give my life for love
I choose tender comrade a song about forbidden love
I move on to another great German writer Siegfried Lenz is maybe less well-known in English the Boll and Grass . I won this Siegfried Lenz as well in a German lit month competition .He was also in Group 47 , which was a group of writers that was brought together to promote the new democratic west germany after the war Gunter grass was also a member of it .He won most of the big prize in germany including the Goethe prize .He died last year this was a book he wrote this novella in his later life.
“Here sit we down in tears and grief ” sang our school choir at the beginning of the hour of remembrance. Then Herr Block, the principal, went over to the rostrum, which was surrounded by wreaths. He walked slowly, hardly glancing at the crowded school hall, and stopped in front of Stella’s photograph on its wooden easel. He straightened up or seemed to straighten up then bowed very low.
The opening as they have the memorial service at the school for Stella .
A minute’s silence is told on two timelines the present is a memorial service for an English teacher Stella in the crowd is one of her Pupils Christian .But Christian was more than a pupil the second timeline is the building of the relationship between Stella and Christian , from her starting to teach him Orwell in class to the pair draw closer together whilst meeting in secret at school they finally start meeting out of the school as Christian meets Stella at her father’s house her father makes his living by finding stones in the sea . Just before she is due to take a boat trip with her friends and spend time away from Christian.this is where on the boat something happens to Stella .
“A stone fisher can always tell where to go ” I said “My father knows whole stone-fields and artificial reefs built a hundred years ago, and he goes searching for those. He carries the sea chart showing the richest sources of big blocks around in his head ”
I’d like to see those stone fields sometime said Stella.
A stone fisher is a job I hadn’t heard of till this book what a truly unique job fishing for stones .
This is a great novella a romance doomed but end before it was doomed two young people joined together even thou one is a teacher and the other is pupil the years between them although not said isn’t many she had just started teaching.He is great at describing the relationship blossoming between the two , but also the world things like Stella’s father talking about his job scrapping stones from the sea bed. I must admit Anthea bell did a wonderful job on this book it is so poetic and delicate i forgot it was a translation, which is why she is still one of my favourite translators .The tale of two lovers told through the younger christians eyes as he tries in the minute’s silence to remember miss Stella Peterson his teacher and oh his lover as well .Is Short yet lingering in the reader’s mind I will be reading more books from him.This is the perfect Novella doesn’t get bogged down in too much history glimpse of the romance and the present give you enough .
Have you read Siegfried Lenz ?