IN THE SPIRIT of my dual-minded approach to things lately — my “Guten morgen” and “mornin’ mate” greeting each day — I must post two things today, one from Germany and one from New Zealand.
First, a prologue, a personal story from here at home. I awoke this morning to my 10-year-old daughter reading aloud from Robert and Philip Spence’s 1941 parody hit Struwwelhitler, A Nazi Storybook by Doktor Schrecklichkeit (modeled after Heinrich Hoffmann’s 1845 collection of children’s verses, Struwwelpeter). Here’s the first verse, in German and English:
DIE SCHRECKLICHE GESCHICHTE VON GRETCHEN UND DER KANONE
Es macht mich traurig, euch zu sagen,
was sich mit Gretchen zugetragen.
Der Freunde zweie rief man her,
Daß Freundschaften ende nimmermehr.
Doch auf dem Tische nebenbei,
Stand ein Kanönchen voll mit Blei,
Und sie versprach den Freunden klug,
Als Spielzeug sei es ihr genug,
Mehr wollt’ sie nicht, doch plötzlich schrie sie:
“Erleben sollt ihr was wie nie,
Ich schiesse jetzt, mir ist ‘ne Last
Der Frieden in der Nachbarschaft!”
It almost makes me cry to tell
What Gretchen (foolish girl) befell.
Her two boy friends had been to call
And lasting friendship vowed by all.
Now on the table close at hand
A little cannon chanced to stand.
And she had promised both the boys
She was contented with her toys,
And would not touch it. “Now” she cries,
“I’ll give them both a great surprise
And shoot at someone: waste of labour!
To keep a gun and love your neighbour!”
AND SPEAKING OF LANGUAGE, let’s move on to Marcus Speh, a German whose English prose blows me away. I had the pleasure of reading Marcus’s latest story this morning, which made me laugh, and laugh again, and then some more. I should have expected that when Marcus does SEX, he does it right.
AND NOW, BACK IN NEW ZEALAND, let’s meet Sally Houtman, who is interviewed by Meg Pokrass at Fictionaut. If you don’t already know Sally’s writing (I first met her at Flash Frontier), watch for her. She’s coming your way…
SO GOOD MORNING Germany, and good morning New Zealand. Good to know you both.
(And if you want to know more about writers in both places, try on the Aotearoa Affair for size. There’s no sex there yet, but it’s only a matter of time.)
Vielen Dank! Thanks, mate!