Return to the Reader's Paradise Forum | Post a Follow-Up

 o
Hello Again

Posted by jankin (My Page) on
Thu, Apr 24, 14 at 13:44

I have been out of the scene for nearly 3 years - despite 3 heart attacks last year I am still trying to `get better,; physically not bad but panic attacks etc as a result are holding me back.

I miss my teaching so much I wondered if any rpers might be interested in discussing a specific book (I uusually go for one difficult to read alone) so was thing of Austerlitz.
If anyone is interested or has any other suggestions please come back to me.

I miss you all and the wonderful discussions we had.

Love to all those who remember me and those who have never heard of me (why should you?)


Follow-Up Postings:

 o
RE: Hello Again

Hello Jan, glad to see my favourite Essex Girl back at RP. Sorry to hear about your health problems.
I've not read Austerlitz but would be happy to give it a go.


 o
RE: Hello Again

Lovely to be in touch
Austerlitz is heavy going but worth it so if it appeals OK
Otherwise any other ,classic, modern or trad

Hope all is well with you and yours

Jan


 o
RE: Hello Again

Hi Jankin -

So sorry to hear about the heart attacks - scary things those. Hope you're on the road to recovery - baby steps to take, yes?

I'm up for anything to read and then discuss. I love those projects so suggest away...!

Austerlitz looks big and serious, but that's ok for me if it's ok for others. I enjoy a bookie challenge!

This post was edited by lemonhead101 on Sun, Apr 27, 14 at 19:36


 o
RE: Hello Again

Hi JanKin,

Glad to see your name again! Sending good thoughts your way for a speedy recovery.

PAM


 o
RE: Hello Again

Welcome home, Jan. Is there a time frame for reading your book?


 o
RE: Hello Again

Jankin, so happy to see you back here again. I hope you are back to full health soon. :)


 o
RE: Hello Again

Jankin, best wishes for your recovery.
I had panic attacks for a long time after being in eight vehicle accidents over ten years and I was never the driver! I just kept getting hit and I got very nervous in cars as a result.
My doctor sent me for weekly hypnotherapy sessions with a lovely elderly lady psychiatrist living within walking distance, for six months, so that I could feel comfortable even being a passenger!
It worked quite well for me and I rarely suffer from them now. Has this been suggested for you?


 o
RE: Hello Again

Jan, I remember you well! Welcome back! I read "Austerlitz" years ago but liked it so much that I would be willing to re-read it. I think the author is one of the most under-rated post modern writers of the last century. What a tragedy he lost his life at such a relatively early age. I have read all of his books, except one. I recall some of us had a discussion on one of them in the days when Russ was participating.


 o
RE: Hello Again

Sorry Jankin --- I wrote your name incorrectly. I was thinking of you when I wrote it though.

:-)


 o
RE: Hello Again

Welcome back. You were definitely missed! I'm very sorry to hear about your health problems.

I won't join you with this particular book, though. I think I would find it too painful to read. Sometimes books like this haunt me painfully for a long time. I feel a moral obligation to know about such things, but try not to spend too much time there.

Rosefolly


 o
RE: Hello Again

Hi Jankin! Glad to have you back. I hope visiting with us here at RP again will speed your recovery :)


 o
RE: Hello Again

Jan, I've ordered a copy of Austerlitz from the library. Though I doubt it will arrive for a while, I'm hopeful they will let me keep it for longer than the usual couple of weeks . It is one of the things I miss most about the mobile library. There was almost no time-limit on the books you borrowed and no fines were ever collected. ;-)


 o
RE: Hello Again

Hello with love again.
Whn all interested have a copy then hopefully wecan start discuss.
I would suggest that for those readers we spend a week just ,leafing, (Ha!) through the first chapter and thinking about writer,s obsession with symmetry, building, architexture - which can put readers off with WHY? but there is a reason and clues as to Sebald himself and his view of the world.

Perhaps midMay would be a good time.

Please excuse typos etc - I am still using coal-fired computer.

Jan


 o
RE: Hello Again

Jankin! I just stopped in here at RP and saw your message! Of course I would love to read Austerlitz with you. Sending all my best wishes your way - Siobhan


 o
RE: Hello Again

I can get this from my nearby library and hope to re-read it. The work by Sebald that we all read and discussed years ago here was "Vertigo."


 o
RE: Hello Again

Thank you for all your positive responses and will try yours out Annpann

Austerlitz is known as a modern classic and it is verydense so one does have tlo stick with it to get the best out of it.
The beginning s eems to be a ,long treatise on irrelevant history of building forts BUT it is Sebalds style and it is later t we realise its importance.. Location and time change often which holds interest and also informs without being didactic or dogmatic.
Sebald`s Austerlitz is a strange,lonely, serious man and awonderful narrator.
There are so many reviewsof this novel may be interesting until everyone has the copy so hoping to start reading before midMay. (2014!),
Looking forward.

Jan


 o
RE: Hello Again

I was pleased that you are considering my suggestion about hypnotherapy. I was lucky to be referred to someone who suited me as this is important. My practitioner told me that she sometimes referred clients to colleagues when they didn't "click"!
She had a very cosy attitude, dressed casually and we both sat and relaxed in deep armchairs but she said one client wanted "a couch and a man in a white doctor's coat" and didn't feel her ambiance was professional!


 o
RE: Hello Again

For those who are planning to read "Austerlitz", pay particular attention to the b & w photos, as they are an important subtext with regard to the author's post-modern style.


 o
RE: Hello Again

Thanks for pointing out that there are indeed several photos and photos appearing throughout the text = they are there for a reason as wn indicates.

Thanks

Jan.


 o
RE: Hello Again

I've just got "Austerlitz" from the library and am ready to start re-reading. I've also checked out 2 works of critical readings on the writings of W.G. Sebald.


 o
RE: Hello Again

I have also just picked up my copy from the library and am allowed to keep it for three weeks. It is a much-thumbed paperback copy and the photos are very 'grainy'. The librarian kindly stuck a couple of loose pages back in. She also told me it is the last copy in the county and to take care of it. I will.


 o
RE: Hello Again

Great it seems we`re ready to go. I`ve been held up with hosp apponts and a funeral.(not mine -`not yet)
Glad to know some of you have read up on Sebald,
So we can start anytime really without spoilers!!! with details about this great writer.
Jan


 o
RE: Hello Again

I`ll make start by telling how my group LitUP were set up to read The Rings of Saturn by Sebald (I had to persuade the anti sfi readers that it was about a journey Sebald made through East Anglia in bis own circumnavigating way`
I know the area wh wrote about well - nothing unusual escaped his eye - we were taken bac kto Thomas Browne and over the sease to China whilst still rambling.
It is thriugh Sebald that I discvered Robert McFarlane and his wanderings. - fascinating in a different wy
Austerlitz moves us around in a similar fashion by a narrator who has his own extraordinary history


 o
RE: Hello Again

I am partway through Austerlitz and finding it fascinating and surprising easy to read - just clicking for some reason. Of course I generally relate to strange, lonely people and I never know what day it is, so maybe that is why. Looking forward to the discussion!


 o
RE: Hello Again

Hello - hope everyone has book now. In any case whether like Siobhan you have read a great slice I would lile to lookcarefully at the writing itself .
Do you all have Penguin Edition - if not I shall try to take you to the pages.
I think I memtioned at the start I wanted to get close to this classic and I mean not having a long discussion after we,ve read but read in passages for instance
I should be interested in how the reader feels about the way in which Sebald introduces the `I` narrator and later Austerlitz; also the emphasis on buildings barracks etc and their dimensions. I think this becomes clearer as we read on but I would be delighted for you to share your ideas on this from Page 1 to bottom page 40 hopefully discovering some unusual language gems.

If you dont have the Penguin let me know asap.and I,ll find a way of guiding you around

BTW if you dont like this approach I only explain that I think we often miss so much .


 o
RE: Hello Again

Jan, I don't have the book in front of me here, as I am at the College, but I am pretty sure that my version is not Penguin.

I am almost finished re-reading for 2nd time and am ready to start making comments. Is it OK for me go ahead or is it too early?


 o
RE: Hello Again

If you csn keep to the firdt 40 pages - doesnt matter bout Penguin - I just dont want any spoilers for those who hsven,t read that far "I heard several such apoccaphyl storiesfrom Austerlitze" starts the next page. We csn rreally sail away when everyon`s aboard.
Really looking forward to you comments - there is sooo much in this section.


 o
RE: Hello Again

Let me know when you think is a good time for me to post some of my general impressions of Sebald's multiple themes. I was intending to put "spoilers ahead" above my posting for those who had not finished.


 o
RE: Hello Again

Jan, I have got to about page 150. The part where there is a double picture of the moon and the description of the decaying mansion, its billiard room and nursery (btw I'm worried about Austerlitz saying the Great Western railway carriages were green when everyone knows they were brown and cream!) The books seems to be very much 'day-time' reading rather than last thing at night in bed so I can't get through it very quickly and really don't want to hurry.
My edition is Penguin 2001 (trans Anthea Bell). There are no extra 'notes' included in it.


 o
RE: Hello Again

i THINK NOW IS A GOOD TIME TOCOVER THE ,NARRATOR, HAS MET AUST AND AFTER THE VISIT TO wALES WILL BE A GREAT TIME. Just want readers to make their own judgements so far Thank you
SORRY ABOUT TYPING.


 o
RE: Hello Again

My copy is definitely not Penguin. I am eager to post my overall impressions of the author's themes and his unique treatment of same. Am waiting for the go-ahead.

Vee, my copy has no notes, either, but you will find a lot of commentary on Sebald on the Internet.


 o
RE: Hello Again

Ithink t is time to have comments from everyone who isreading asI I know you just cant wait - jI think everyonehasthe book. Dont worry if you,ve not finished the comments will pull you along.


We,re off
I look forward and will write my comments af apopprtiate places.


 o
RE: Hello Again

I will be posting my overall, general impressions of Sebald's style and themes soon. I don't have a home PC, so have to seize the opportunity to post whenever I can, here.


 o
RE:* Hello Again

Spoilers ahead:

Reading it for the 2nd time, I still find the prose incredibly dense, as if wandering through a thicket or wading through a marsh. Yet the reader is rewarded by a unique vision of Western society and human history.

One is forced to view the author's world through Sebald's own lens. The photos are Sebald's subtext, acting as a camera, focusing upon certain aspects of his world view, either broadening or narrowing, whether or not these views collide, accordingly.

Here are some questions Sebald poses:

What is "truth"?
What is "memory?"
What is "time?"
What is "history?"

What are the functions of architecture in our lives? (How do architectural forms reveal or conceal the values of a society?) The author seems to wish to remind us that the very buildings we inhabit reflect certain political belief systems of which we are perhaps scarcely aware.

What are the purpose of archives? (Is what is saved only a partial truth?)

How valid are old photographic records, as opposed to memories of actual historical events? How much are our memories colored by or distorted by our emotions? How much are our memories tainted by the political persuasions of the time?

What is history? Various societies have differing points of view. (Many have agreed that history is written by the victors, not the losers, not the enslaved. Feminists clamor to write "herstory.")

Sebald, a German, born in 1944, is all too aware of the pain of the Holocaust. He approaches the topic in an oblique, indirect fashion in this novel. He is aware of classical Greek myths. For example, take Medusa: to gaze directly upon the toxic, serpent-ridden head was to risk instant death. Sebald will not face "evil" directly in this instance, so chooses to tell Austerlitz's story in an indirect, out-of-focused way, by word of mouth of others and by a subtext of photos.

I am reminded of Emily Dickinson: "Tell the truth, but tell it slant."


 o
RE:*** Hello Again

Spoilers ahead:

postscript:

We are asked to look at many old b & w photos of buildings, cemeteries, railroad stations, libraries, and fortifications. We are asked to analyze their implications, in terms of functions in Western civilization: do they serve it well or no? e.g. the monumental, impersonal "Babylonian ziggurat" of the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris, which is utterly intimidating to Austerlitz when he is seeking the traces and records of his father. (Again, a classical reference: Theseus in the Labyrinth).

Or, another example, the star-shaped fortifications in various European nations, soon out-dated, which did not deter wars nor win peace, but were merely re-used as torture chambers by other autocratic, militaristic societies.

Another is Sebald's themes is the "palimpsest": bodies buried under city streets, under fields of grain, not only in Paris, but in the final few pages, in Kaunas, Lithuania, a secret "manuscript" as it were. (Ironically, this small, defiant nation is today threatened by Putin!)

In terms of "time" Sebald suggests that the curtain between the living and the dead is very thin, that bodies of past victims of wars and tortures and executions haunt the living. That our very cities are built upon layers of others, upon past evils, that we, like Austerlitz may be aware of past ghosts, whose sufferings we can scarcely imagine, even today. (e.g. in the supposedly "civilized" city of Paris, the grand national library was built over a former Nazi structure which housed valuables stolen from the Jews).

Sebald ends the book with an ironic twist; a hidden Jewish cemetery in London, by chance, just once opened to view by the narrator, and a trip to Gare Austerlitz, a monumental railway station in Paris, from whence the boy may well have received his name years ago, as an outsider, adopted by a family in Wales.

The reader may well be struck by what gentle restraint the author writes of horrific past events.


 o
RE:+++ Hello Again

Lastly, I often tried to derive some symbolism from the star-shaped fortresses, re the Jewish, 6 pointed star, but this does not work, as Theresienstadt had 8 points, and some others, merely 5.

I find it ironic that I write of all this today, when it is the grand opening in NYC of the monument to the Twin Towers' destruction in 9-11.

I am done. Let others speak!


 o
RE: Hello Again

Mary/woodnymph, thanks for suggesting I look up some information about W G Sebald as it was useful to know something about his past history/upbringing . . . and to see that he also deliberately writes 'mistakes' into his texts. Hence me noticing that great Western Railway carriages are not green, or that the cliffs of Devon and Cornwall are not made of chalk. I find this misinformation most strange and rather off-putting and thereafter kept wondering what other incorrect facts he had scattered throughout the book.
The actual 'reading' of the book, I did not find difficult but I did find the subject matter very dense; just so many facts piled onto more facts. And the whole 'tone' of the book is not unlike the murky black and white photos, drab, colourless, no highs or lows.

I have another hundred or so pages to read and am not holding up my hopes for something cheerful or uplifting to happen.


 o
RE: Hello Again

I've read the first 50 pages or so and find that I agree with Vee's "drab and colourless" tone of the book. It's not something that I would read on my own.


 o
RE: Hello Again

Vee, in the 3 other books I've read by Sebald, he tends to desguise the actual names of towns and people, so maybe that is akin to his writing inaccuracies in this novel deliberately.

I think we all might have better enjoyed a discussion of his "Rings of Saturn", which is set in East Anglia, England. Its theme is not so dark.

Where is Jankin???


 o
RE: Hello Again

Woodnymph it is possible to read with comparative ease (size) (location) ROF.

It seemsto me that Sebald throuhh his ,narrator, leads us up to these rather over explained and now ouit of use buildings 9built to last! Is symbolic of a man who builds around himself fences uponfences and it is only when the narration loosens and WE see Austerlitz and meet himthat the brickwork dust and mud
becomes a means of discovering Aust.
That,s why it is worth read on.
It is a READ indeed.
Skip over until you find dome text you can connect with and
consider the sreation of this extraorinadry man. You canalways go back and check

Sorry bout typs my eyes not so good at moment


 o
RE: Hello Again

Pleaase dont leave it .drab and dusty
As I said
DONT labour through choose episodes that we can bring toagther
How about just reading his time in Wales as a child.
You wont be sorry
It does alcome together


 o
RE: Hello Again

Pleaase dont leave it .drab and dusty
As I said
DONT labour through choose episodes that we can bring toagther
How about just reading his time in Wales as a child.
You wont be sorry
It does alcome together


 o
RE: Hello Again

I have written this once and for some reason my pc wouldnt send so lets try again.
May I suggest that we all look at the long epiisode "I have never know wbo I really was" (penguin pg 60) to "it was the very evanescnce of those visions, that gve me, at the time something like a sense of eternity". (pengiuinPg115)
Wherever you are in the text is it not possibleto to connect Aust with his past and Euorpean history relevant to him and to admire Sebabalds style.

I am aware of the subject of someof the critiques and criticisms
- some I feel myself - but overall think the journey(s) inwards,and beyond - physical and emotiona, and psychological, and the artistry of Sebald - well worth the effort.


 o
RE: Hello Again

I finished the book, as I said (twice). I don't have the Penguin edition. Could you reference what we are to discuss in some other manner so I can find the quote?

Jan, did you read my commentary above?


 o
RE: Hello Again

Mary, I think the part of the book Jan is referring to is the whole of A's remembered childhood, first in Wales and then up to the end of his days at boarding school.

Jan, I have now re-read that part, although I haven't quite finished the book, but think I need you to give me some more help. I don't want to chicken-out before the end.
During his dreary childhood in the bleak Manse in N Wales (Bala must surely be the most depressing place in the whole of Great Britain that Sebald could have chosen for A's childhood) he tells us little other than about his adopted parents, endless visits to the chapel, sermons on Hell fire and damnation, followed by a second-rate education at a run-down school. The only flicker of warmth seems to be his friendship with Gerald and the visits to his family home.


 o
RE: Hello Again

I think a Tolological knowledge of hhe areA does help andanyone associated in any way with MidNorth Wales will recognise seom of Sebalds descriptions.
However it is clear from areas in the rest of the text that Aust was much moved by the beauty of the mountains and lake Vrnywy.
As this episode deals with his youth and adoloscence he diiscovers some of the nysteries about himself and is given his REAL name again,
The Calvinistic minister reminds me of Faulker,s MCCheachern (Light in Auhust) and could have ruined Aust as Mc ruined Jo Christmas.
I do have more to say on this - for me it iis verymuch North Wales!
Shhortly afterwards Aust had such a pain attach walkinh though Lonfon he was hospitalised for several weeks and then advised to work in a garden centre in Romford.
That man
he got arlound.
wONDERFUL DESCRIPTION Of HIS UNIIFORM ASGOING TO SCHOOL SOMETIMES i THINK WE SHOULD TAKE sEBALD A LITTLE MORE IRONICALLY.
i.LL BE BACK

tHANKS


 o
RE: Hello Again

My least favorite part of the book is his childhood in Wales. I prefer the part where he visits Theresienstadt (Terzen) and tries of learn of his mother's fate, and then later, in Paris. The novel takes off at the point when he finds his former nurse and they discuss his mother, and his boyhood memories gradually start to come back. From that point on, the narrative just builds and builds, unto its climax, which is ironic and subtle.


 o
RE: Hello Again

Mary I have just finished the book and after reading your comments made a point of reading the last part twice ( a pity there are no chapters to help 'navigate' our way round) and wonder why Austerlitz, off to search for his Father, in no longer 'there' at the end of the book. As with the early part of the book we are with the 'narrator'.
I find the whole thing very difficult to understand although I presume I am expected to appreciate it on a higher plain.
As you mention I think the part where he meets Vera, his nurse and the friend of his Mother, is virtually the only time we get any feeling of warmth and affection.


 o
RE: Hello Again

Veer
I dont thik higherplane would explain youryour appreciation of this novel you could aswe often do just dislike,
It is difficult in sometimes as Sebaldsubtly refers to occasions and events that happenede earlier. He is wondering through a war ravished Euope much of the time nd it is the ocasionall ,tale, that stands alone out his wonderings which informs - such was Wales and his meetings with Vera as yiou mention
Many of his wonderings are through London streets etc., that I know well. In terms of "time"
Woodnymph I have interposed tou commend here as it think ot is progound =
Sebald suggests that the curtain between the living and the dead is very thin, that bodies of past victims of wars and tortures and executions haunt the living. That our very cities are built upon layers of others, upon past evils, that we, like Austerlitz may be aware of past ghosts, whose sufferings we can scarcely imagine, even today. (e.g. in the supposedly "civilized" city of Paris, the grand national library was built over a former Nazi structure which housed valuables stolen from the Jews).
Austerlitz style is gentle and often tentaive as he follows though his life.

Anyway if anyone else wants to comment perhaps it would be interesting to move onto Rings of Saturn.
Lets all love reading , being discerning, loving, indiferent etc at least we hada go

Thanks Jan


 o
RE: Hello Again

Well, I loved this book, in fact I read it twice. Despite its bona fides as a respected literary novel, I strongly identified with the protagonist and felt I was wandering with him through both his thoughts and through post-war Europe. I find myself looking at the photographs over and over, seeing something different each time.


 o
RE: Hello Again

Hello, Jankin. You may remember me from previous RP discussions in which I participated along with you, e.g. The Go-Between by Hartley and Cold Comfort Farm by Gibbons. I recall your contributions to both of those (and others) as particularly insightful and helping me get more out of those books than I would have ever gotten from my solitary reading of them. I could certainly use the additional help of discussion about Austerlitz, too.

I relate to postmodern literature about as well as I do to magical realism, which is not very well, usually. I suppose I am too much of a literalist to enjoy genres that I consider a bit on the sneaky side or -- worse -- deliberately elliptical or downright mendacious. Postmodern literature seems (to me) to rely on the use of gimmicks -- some decidedly clever, others that quickly get tiresome.

Sebald's gimmick is the use of the interspersed photographs which he employed in all four of his books I've read. I like this gimmick because I enjoy peering at the photos -- although I think I would prefer clearer ones. I wonder though: which came first, the photos or the stories? I suspect Sebald wrote his stories around the most evocative photos instead of finding photos to match the stories. Is the photo of the little boy in the cavalier costume Sebald himself as a child? The resemblance between the boy and the man is there, I think.

Mary, you thought of all the questions that Sebald seemed to be dwelling on. Excellent analysis! Of the four biggies -- time, memory, truth, history -- the one that I find most striking in the narrative is memory. Memories lead to digressiveness. It's a natural thing and I think Sebald handled it in a natural way: he just let it flow with all the facts coming out in long, complex sentences without paragraphing -- part of that density you described, I like the imagery of memory being an intricate cobweb, with strong anchor strands and gossamer connecting strands that inevitably double back.

Okay, I assume the unnamed narrator is Sebald himself. Is that right?


 o
RE: Hello Again

Frieda, glad you are back with us. I have worried that this thread, although barely started, was about to fizzle-out and 'though I found Austerlitz very difficult, multi-layered and deep, I didn't want to give up. After taking the trouble to get an inter library loan and wading through it I feel I want my money's worth . . . and learn something along the way.

I haven't time to write now, but notice many of us have been interested in the photos that punctuate the dialogue.
Quite by chance I found the site (below) on youtube, where the photos are discussed in their original settings.
You need to push the 'pointer' back to the beginning; it seems to have got stuck where I left off watching!

Here is a link that might be useful: Austerlitz photos


 o
RE: Hello Again

A-ha! Vee, thanks so much for the link to the explanation and provenance of some of the photos. It seems then that Sebald used both techniques -- writing the text to tell the (or a) story to fit the photographs AND also searching and finding photos that fit ideas that Sebald had already worked out. That discussion concentrated on London places. I would like to know more about the Paris-, Wales- and Prague-based photos as well. If you stumble on to them too... :-)

I have plenty more to say about Austerlitz! I know what you mean, Vee, about the investment you made in reading this book. I too am finding it hard to let it go.


 o
RE: Hello Again

The photos and graphics tell us much Austerlitz - in somewamys I se e him as a smoky mirror of the narrator Aust. and recall his headach and visit to the night zoo just before he mets Austerlitz.
The eyes of the animals see everything in half light.
One of the most striking phots is the one on the cover whuhc Austerlitz refers to . It is pure and innocent in contrast to its own history. The old Jewish Cemateray in London still exists and may be visited at certain times by appointment.
What do you think of the critic,s comparison to James Jojce, Ulysses?


 o
RE: Hello Again

I'm still reading, too, even though I sounded as if I were totally uninvolved with the book. I am interspersing it with lighter reads, but I will finish it.

I did like the Wales part better than the first, but the lack of paragraphing is aggravating me. There's no place to stop!


 o
RE: Hello Again

Jankin, I can't really address the critics' comparisons of Austerlitz to Joyce's Ulysses with any authority as I never managed to get more than halfway through Leopold Bloom's day in Dublin. But what I did read and remember of Ulysses, about the only thing I can think of as similar is the run-on style of sentences that both writers implemented -- appropriately, I think, and to great effect (although, as Carolyn mentioned, it sure makes it hard for a reader to find a place to pause). Oh, and Bloom, like Austerlitz, was an eastern European Jew. Are those what the critics mean? Probably not, I'm guessing, because those are much too simple things to exercise most critics.

Something that struck me is Austerlitz's isolation. Perhaps it's not as much a theme of the story as the truth, memory, time, and history that Mary pointed out, but I certainly think it's evident throughout the narration and probably one of Sebald's intentional aims in characterizing Austerlitz. The isolation began, of course, when he was wrenched away from his mother and his nursemaid to be sent in the Kindertransport. Then he was stuck with the dour, undemonstrative Welsh couple in that bleak locale and eventually sent off to school. He seems to have had very few friends other than Gerald and Gerald's mother. By the time he went to university, his isolation seems to have been self-imposed. He only mentions having one lover -- Marie -- whom he eventually loses. The narrator always finds Austerlitz to be alone, even in cafes and pubs.

Okay, later Austerlitz describes to the narrator his impressions of the places he visited, such as Terezin, that were deserted or sparsely peopled. The bazaar in Terezin was closed. Austerlitz was the only customer in the Ghetto Museum that had only one employee in attendance. The train stations he passed through seemed to be much too large for the number of people Austerlitz saw in them.

Did isolation cause Austerlitz to be lonely or did he revel in his aloneness? I'm not quite sure, because there is his continuing, though intermittent, relationship with the narrator. What did he get out of their relationship? Someone to listen to him? For that matter, what did the narrator get from Austerlitz, besides a life story?


 o
RE: Hello Again

Interesting idea, Frieda, about the emptiness in Austerlitz' life. The huge museums, forts, disused parts of railway stations, cemeteries, the hotel near Prague, the long walks through deserted night-time streets. Is this so his inner-eye can take in the myriads of ghosts/strange small people he sees around him?
I think the themes of memory and truth are important. Not just Austerlitz' gradually relating to his own past, but the much wider issue of the collective memory of the German people . . . or lack of it.
As we now know the whole terrible time of the Nazi era and its atrocities were deliberately expunged from that country's collective memory during reconstruction from the late '40's. It was not talked about, it was never taught in schools.
Austerlitz dealt with it in a similar way. He first learnt something of his past when still a young man at school, yet it wasn't until middle age that he set out to discover the truth about his family and his own 'true self'.
I don't know how the book was received in Germany (it first came out in German) but wonder if Sebold was deliberately reminding 'his' people not to forget the past.
Is he also saying something to the French who also enthusiastically colluded with the Nazis in removing Jews from Paris and elsewhere?

I too have never read Ulysses. It would never have been possible to buy an unexpurgated copy in the UK and was considered filth by the Irish nuns . .. now I am too old to care and know I wouldn't get past the first 6 pages.


 o
RE: Hello Again

Vee, I had the opportunity to discuss Austerlitz, the book, with some of my German relatives and acquaintances when I first read it circa 2003. Among readers and the more literary minded, it was talked about and debated; thus I would say it was 'well received' amongst that group. However, ordinary Germans -- the same as Americans and the British -- probably have 'better things to do' than read a book and ruminate on its literariness and whatever lessons and messages the author might be trying to dispense. That's the overall shallowness of most people's day-to-day lives, I suppose, or perhaps the patronizing arrogance of any intellectual writer or speaker who thinks s/he has something profound to impart to the not-so-deep thinkers. Maybe it's backlash because the Germans have been too susceptible in the past to responding to those who can write or speak 'a good line'.

I don't think there was so much a deliberate expunging of collective memory in Germany as there was, in those first years after the war ended, of shifting memories to the back of the mind, as a means of self-preservation. There was a lot that had to be done to resume living normal lives. The history was too fresh to be taught with any kind of coherence. It had to be sorted out first. Certainly from about the 1980s (perhaps the 1970s), the Germans began to analyze their own history -- in academia and elsewhere -- with an obsessiveness similar to that of the British with colonialism (and the inherent racism of it in many cases) and Americans with the history and legacy of slavery and racism; and the Australians with their displacement and treatment of the aboriginals; and the French, as you said, with their collusion to remove the Jews. The first step seems to be the acknowledgement of shame and guilt. The process apparently has to be worked over and over, to a point that it might be exhausted and the old die off, until a new generation might get interested in it again and pick up the theme for their benefit or understanding, usually with inevitable revisions.

I really don't have the impression that Sebald was 'preaching' a moral lesson. Rather, I think, he used his writing to work things out in his own mind in a process that he wanted to share. Perhaps that's the gentleness of Sebald's style that Jan and others have noted.


 o
RE: Hello Again

Unfortunately, I was unable to access the video that Vee posted.

I've not read "Ulysses" so cannot comment on that.

I, too, have German friends, and a few years ago asked what was their take on the Holocaust, as they were born circa 1941. They told me Germans were gradually unravelling and trying to face their horrific past, after a period of denial.

I have the feeling that Sebald himself fled Germany and Austria and planted himself in England as a reaction to his guilt and shame. While I don't think he is preaching in this book, I think he is trying to work out his guilt and shame at a distance from where the events took place in order to see it all in a more objective way. But at the same time, his emotions intrude so that he is still seeing events in a subjective fashion.

The perfect companion book to read alongside "Austerlitz" his Sebald's "The Emmigrants." It tell the stories of 4 different people and how they grappled with the Holocaust and with their past. I had the impression as I read it that these were real people that Sebald knew, although he changed their names. It's a powerful book, easier to read than "Austerlitz" and more concise, divided into 4 distinct parts. It too, utilizes old b & w photos as a subtext.

I should like to recommend a book on a related theme: "Into the Arms of Strangers; Stories of the Kindertransport." (Mark Jonathan Harris & Deborah Oppenheimer). These are true stories of actual survivors and very inspiring.


 o
RE: Hello Again

Thank you Frieda, for your input. I have no German relations but my parents did have a number of German friends. In about 1948 a daughter of one family came over to stay with us to act as 'Mother's Help (probably would be called an au pair today). Apparently her mother wrote a letter saying "Please believe that not all Germans are bad people . . ." something my parents well-understood. Some years later, another girl came over and after a few months her dentist Father, in London on business, came to visit her and us. He seemed such a gentle, kindly man yet, after he left his daughter told my parents that during WWII he had been 'taken away' by the Nazis and they heard nothing from him for years. On his return he gradually was able to tell his family that he had been made to do terrible dentistry related things to camp inmates. He suffered nightmares, panic attacks etc and was a broken man for the rest of his life. Perhaps because my family had not been affected directly by what he did we didn't think less of him . . maybe we should have done. I don't know.
At the other extreme and less dramatic, I was friendly with a Polish girl and also worked elsewhere with a German girl and a French boy. We and a couple of other English friends all got together for a jolly evening and then realised our mistake. The Polish girl (usually the nicest friendliest person) became so hate-filled towards the German we had to curtail the get-together.
I realise this has little to do with Austerlitz or Sebold except that these small eg's might illustrate the difficulties of forgiveness or coming to terms with the past.

Back to the book. What do you make of the ending? For me it just stopped. In fact I turned the page over to see if there was something more to come; there wasn't.
I wonder if it is because Austerlitz had left to continue the hunt for his Father. We are, as we were at the beginning, with the narrator who walks on . . . much as Austerlitz had been doing for so many years. Is the narrator a mirror image of Austerlitz as Jan suggests?


 o
RE: Hello Again

Mary, The Emigrants is my favorite of Sebald's books. I think it has humor, albeit very wry humor, that some will appreciate, although others will never discern it, as I learned when I mentioned the humor at another site and was told I was only imagining it! Maybe it's humor German-style. ;-)

I'll look for Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport. Thanks for the recommendation.

No one challenged me here on my assumption that Sebald himself is the narrator, so I will go ahead assuming it. I read somewhere that the narrator's function is merely that of 'a framing device'. Pffft!! I don't like that suggestion at all because I want a plausible representation of a real character, even when he is never developed much beyond that of 'listener'. Besides that, I don't think the framing device explanation is true: framing devices don't get headaches and visit museums and forts!

Vee, I think it was Mary who referred to the ending as "an ironic twist." I agree about the irony, which is the ending is no ending at all. I call this the "Easy Rider" syndrome because of the spate of films and books of the late 1960s and 1970s that cook along, then CHOP, that's it and the watchers/readers are left hanging. (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and 92 in the Shade, both book and film, are a couple more examples.)

I suppose, though, that the point of such non-endings -- if there really is a point -- is to make the audience think of what might happen beyond the stopping place, with the abrupt transition making it more memorable -- if the audience isn't too pissed off to dismiss it altogether. I think your scenario of Austerlitz [leaving] to continue his hunt for his father and the narrator walks on is a good, logical one. I imagine the narrator meeting Austerlitz again sometime and learning the rest of the story, except we the readers won't be included. It's a bit artsy fartsy, I think, but some readers really love that sort of thing -- if it's peculiar enough, it must be genius.

Which reminds me: I read a lot of reviews of Austerlitz, with about 9 out of 10 being pretentious hogwash, in my opinion. It's easy to tell which reviewers still apparently write as if they need to impress some professor with their vocabulary and knowledge of literary allusions and philosophical references. If they think a book is 'difficult', they, of course, will give it 5 stars just to show how intellectual and 'in the know' they are.


 o
RE: Hello Again

Mary, I meant to say that I hope you get the chance to view the video about the photos Vee linked to above. It's well worth it. One of the most interesting parts, I think, is about Austerlitz's tour of the Great Eastern Hotel in London which has a Freemasons' temple built into it. Austerlitz specifically mentions a painting in the temple depicting a three-tiered ark under a rainbow with a dove flying toward the ark with the famed olive branch in her beak. A photo of the painting is provided very early in the story.

Trouble is: there is no such painting in evidence in the otherwise accurately described, very real temple, as the guide in the video indicates to us. That's another example of Sebald's misinformation, along with the wrong color of the carriages of the Great Western Railway and the wrong description of the cliffs of Devon being chalk, that Vee noticed and rather worried her, I think. (Is worried the right word, Vee?) It worries me because it's part of what I feel is 'sneakiness', as I described it earlier, rather than simple error. Of course, if something is clearly labeled fiction, a writer is under no strict obligation to have all of his facts straight, but it sure seems odd to me when he's meticulous about other things. I'm not sure why this bothers me so much. If you hadn't brought it up, Vee, I would have blithely remained in ignorance. Do you think we need to join Nit-Pickers Anonymous?


 o
RE: Hello Again

I've just watched the youtube video vee linked to above; it is really good. Well worth the time, so I am reposting the link.

Obviously I need to read all of Sebold's work!

Here is a link that might be useful: Austerlitz


 o
RE: Hello Again

It seems to me that Sebold is deliberately but subtly illustrating, both in words and pictures, how unreliable and incomplete our memories are. This really struck me while I was reading as it is something that I struggle with myself, although my own past is absolutely nothing like Austerlitz's. In the past decade or so I have discovered that more than a few of my cherished childhood memories are false - they never happened. And if you ask my siblings to describe certain events, every one tells a completely different story. On this level the work illustrates an archetypal situation. What really happened? Can we trust our memories?


 o
RE: Hello Again

Siobhan, I think you've hit on a likely explanation for the reason Sebald dispensed misinformation, apparently deliberately to illustrate his theme, because that's the way, as you say, memories sometimes deceive us. At first, when I realized he was doing this after Vee gave me the clue, I thought he might be testing us readers whether we are really paying attention, or not. Thank you for posting what occurred to you! See, this is what I like about discussions, such as this one: you all pick up on things that I never would on my own.


 o
RE: Hello Again

I completely agree with Siobhan's interpretation and it would certainly explain why Sebald takes "artistic liberties" with reality. In a sense, the novel is a study of the accuracies and/or inaccuracies of human memory.

Frieda, I always assumed the narrator is Sebald, himself.

For whatever reason, the computers I am using are unable to access the Utube info.

One must be careful not to categorize nations' citizens behaviors during WW II. For every French supporter of the Vichy regime, there were heroic French people who hid the Jews on their farms and elsewhere. My former neighbor was one such; she escaped into France where she was taken in by a Catholic family who hid her sucessfully. She converted to Catholicism and later married an American GI and moved to Virginia.

For a related story, watch "Au Revoir, Mes Enfants", a wonderful film about a Jewish school boy hidden in a French Catholic boarding school.

I think it important to be aware of the many "good Germans" who were horrified by Hitler and his lackeys. My late father's best friend was one such. I saved their letters that recounted how they suffered during the war.


 o
RE: Hello Again

I expected the 'non-ending,' in fact I would have been disappointed with anything else. That's the way life is. Rarely is everything wrapped up neatly; rarely does one experience a definitive denouement. For Austerlitz, there can be no real peace or reconciliation or ending, so there is none for the reader.


 o
RE: Hello Again

Mary, thank you for your opinion of Sebald being the narrator. I was beginning to think I was the only reader who thought so because I have received some very bizarre replies to my simple question elsewhere.

There you go, Siobhan! I figured there would be at least one or two RPers who would appreciate the non-ending. Unfortunately for me, I suppose, I am too conventional in my novel-reading taste and prefer what I think of as a finished product. I don't mind unfinished stories in nonfiction because nonfiction never ends -- it just has to stop somewhere -- but fiction has the luxury to reach a definitive conclusion. However, with the blurring of nonfiction and fiction, I guess it's legitimate to go either way: conclude or leave open.


 o
RE: Hello Again

Well, I do have well-known tendencies (maybe here at RP anyway) for liking enigmatic narrators and novels. Even unreliable ones, which make many readers crazy.

In this case it made perfect sense to me, but I understand that for many it is displeasing.


 o
RE: Hello Again

I have to return my copy of Austerlitz to the library (they now send reminders by email) and tomorrow, Monday, my wandering daughter and s-in-law return to the bosom of their family from Sao Paulo via Istanbul to London, after their almost a year 'travelling'; so might not have time to post on this topic again.

While I didn't dislike the book, I really didn't find it an enjoyable read in a physical sense. I found the way it was written, its 'stream of consciousness', the single-colour tone with no difference in pitch between the narrator and Austerlitz, the lack of chapters and paragraphs, the very blurry photographs, all off-putting.
Obviously Sebold has deliberately used these devises to confuse/trick/test us, the reader. Is he, as a University lecturer treating us as he might his undergraduates/students? Is he aiming this work at the critics? He could have told the 'story' just using Austerlitz talking in the first person. Would that have been too easy? Is he, as Frieda suggests saying "Come on you lot, sitting in the back row, pay attention." "Look at the photographs, they have been chopped up, cropped, are blurred, are not pictures of what the text implies. Why have I done this? Think"
I feel had I read Austerlitz, on my own, with no input from RP'ers or encouragement from Jan, I would have fallen at the first hurdle. I would have got little from it . . . at least this exercise has got the old grey cells working and given me much food for thought.


 o
RE: Hello Again

Siobhan, yes, I've known you as a fellow RPer for several years now and have noticed that you like what to me are some unusual books. But I think I could say the same thing of just about every other RPer! Some of you all probably think I have rather strange reading tastes, as well.

In spite of being three-quarters German myself, I have no particular affinity for German writers/literature. I would rather have my teeth drilled than read Hermann Hesse, for example. I waded into Thomas Mann's Buddenbrooks and Der Zauberberg (The Magic Mountain) and never managed to finish either. Talk about AMBIGUOUS! Have you read Mountain, Siobhan? If not, you might love it. :-)

I do like Gunter Grass (Head Games: or the Germans Are Dying Out and The Tin Drum) and Uwe Timm (The Invention of Curried Sausage) plus a few others.

I am very interested in German history, but it sure is painful reading for me. I'm currently revisiting Frauen: German Women Recall the Third Reich a set of oral interviews with 29 women, taped, transcribed, and translated by Alison Owings. I did similar interviews with some of my German relatives and their friends. Most of these people are now deceased so I'm glad I had the opportunity when I did. Knowing their stories is enlightening, but not altogether understandable, I'm afraid. Some of the women in Frauen make me sputter. Not so much my own relatives, but perhaps the kinship allows more empathy.

Vee, I followed C & J's blog for a while until I lost the link somehow. It has been a momentous year for them, hasn't it? Enjoy the homecoming!


 o
RE: Hello Again

. . . at least this exercise has got the old grey cells working and given me much food for thought.
Vee, I feel the same way. Your description of all the things you found off-putting make my list too, yet I get the feeling that after I've had time to digest the book and my frustrations while reading it have receded, it will be one of those books I will think of as an accomplishment to have read.

I am still chewing the cud.

Mary, of the four main themes that you pegged in your first post, we've given most of our attention to the 'truth' and 'memory' parts. I'm just getting around to thinking more about the 'what is history?' part. It occurred to me that the point of view we received in our history lessons, as descendants of the Allies, may be the most important part as far as we are concerned (and we think our viewpoint is the morally right one), but of course there was, and is still, another point of view and perception of history from the other side.

I have read a lot about the history of the war from the British p-of-v, such as the London Blitz and all its horrors, but I've never known as much about the ordinary Germans' experiences with the bombings of their cities. Several of the German women interviewed in Frauen (mentioned in my previous post) recounted stories of the bombings and if I hadn't known these were Germans, I could easily have assumed they were Englishwomen, their experiences were so similar.

Some of the other German women also described what happened to them when the Red Army arrived and the atrocities committed by the Soviets on the German civilians (women mostly). The interviewer (Alison Owings) asked these women whether they had ever correlated these events with what the Germans had done? Their answers are sobering, as their outrage remained focused on the 'devil' Soviets.

The fallback explanation for why ordinary German people 'allowed' their government to create hell seems to be the Reich intimidated them to the point of quaking submission. What resistance there was (and there was more than was known for a long time) could, and did, mean imprisonment or a bullet to the head, as was the case of the would-be assassins of Hitler in 1944. I suppose the 'scared-sh*tless' reasoning is plausible (sorry for the crudeness but that was the phrase used by some less-eloquent interviewees). Most people are not cut out to be martyrs. Should we expect them to be?


 o
RE: Hello Again

Frieda, I'm glad you got the point I was trying to make about "history" (from whose point of view?). Certainly if you talk with descendants of Russians who fought the Germans in WW II, they will demonize the "Huns" as "barbarians" and vice-versa.

I take your point about the sufferings of the innocent Germans during the bombings. The letters from my late father's best friend in Germany during the war attest to this. He had 3 children and described how they were huddled in bed in a bombed out building with no heat and little food. He wrote letters to my father begging him to send him "Care packages" of chocolate, tins, and cigarettes. My father did so, and was credited with saving their lives, although one of the 3 children died.

I don't think we should expect them to be martyrs, either. It was literally dog-eat-dog and the survival of the fittest. I am currently reading a book about a Dutch woman who colaborated in the camps just to stay alive. I highly recommend "Dancing With the Enemy: My Family's Holocaust Secret" by Paul Glaser. The author describes the diaries of a relative he found after her death, depicting all she did just to live. She managed to escape to Sweden, being clever and resourceful, and forging identity cards, etc.

The same mentality you describe is also depicted in "Under an Evil Star" by Kovaly-- set in what was Czechoslovakia, how the people succumbed to Communism. After being jerked around by 2 world wars, they were worn out!


 o
RE: Hello Again

Frieda, you introduced me to Sarah Gainham, and I have now read the first two of her trilogy set in Vienna before, during, and after WWII. The second one, A Place in the Country, deals harshly with the Russian Army. They were at first looked forward to for deliverance and then thoroughly hated for actions that the soldiers saw as payback. Ms. Gainham didn't cut them any slack.


 o
RE: Hello Again

Carolyn, I still intend to reread Gainham's trilogy, but I keep getting waylaid. I will have to make it a point because I recall so little. The 'Russians' in the Red Army, as they are often portrayed in both history and fiction, really seem to have been 'nasty pieces of work'. If they were any nastier than other groups with ideologue leaders is probably debatable.

Several of the German women (in Frauen) and some of my relatives recounted what they thought of the American, British, and French soldiers who 'liberated' them. The Germans were both mortified in defeat and hopeful that 'now it was all over' they would not be treated too badly in retaliation. They were particularly hopeful about the Americans because so many Germans had German-American relatives and had friends and acquaintances who had emigrated to the U.S. At first the American soldiers were kind enough, distributing food and what relief supplies they had. But after the soldiers departed and the American bureaucrats took over, the Germans noticed a different tone in their treatment. Bureaucrats of any nationality are often officious bores, full of themselves in their power to control, and some of the Americans exhibited that mindset. One woman described how the Americans expropriated her house as headquarters for themselves, but when she got it back, it was ruined, with graffiti on the walls and her beloved lithographs, and her father's prized collection of beer steins smashed in the garden where the Americans apparently used them to drink from and then exuberantly tossed them out the window. Of all the things she endured during the war, that memory of the Americans and what they did to her house seemed to rankle her most. Perhaps, though, it was her way of transferring anger from things that were too painful for her to think about.

Also, once the word got out about the concentration camps, American hostility toward the German civilians resurfaced because it was so hard to understand and believe that ordinary Germans didn't know or suspect more of what had gone on. Is it possible that ordinary Germans were as ignorant as they claimed to be? Personally, I think it's quite possible when one is so self-absorbed that the mind is closed to whatever else is going on. And 'bad news' can take time to filter through and actually be processed, especially when your resources for knowing things are curtailed or limited. (Even today in the age of 'instant' news, how many things are we ignorant of?)

Mary, I still haven't worked out Sebald's 'time' angle, the fourth theme you highlighted. It seems to me that he's saying that time really doesn't move one direction, but perhaps curves back on itself. And the 'ghosts' that Austerlitz perceived (as Vee pointed out) are beings existing in another 'fold of time'. This reminds me of some of the Australian writers' themes, e.g. in Joan Lindsey's Picnic at Hanging Rock and also in the Peter Weir-directed film The Last Wave. Now, in those examples, I am quite taken with enigma and ambiguity, so I'm not completely immune to that sort of appeal. :-)

Carolyn, have you finished Austerlitz?


 o
RE: Hello Again

I'm embarrassed to say that I haven't finished Austerlitz yet, but I am still reading it. I'm about half way through. It's due on June 3 and I try very hard never to have to renew a book, so that is my deadline.


 o
RE: Hello Again

I'm embarrassed to say that I haven't finished Austerlitz yet, but I am still reading it. I'm about half way through. It's due on June 3 and I try very hard never to have to renew a book, so that is my deadline.


 o
RE: Hello Again

I have just listened to this on BBC Radio 4 and think it might be interesting to those of us who have ploughed quite a difficult furrow through the meaning of Sebald's work.
To even realise this programme was going to be broadcast and then to actually remember to listen to it is, for me, quite an achievement. Perhaps it is one of those many coincidences for which Sebald is famous.
I hope Jan listened/s to it. I am sorry she left us so soon into the discussion

Here is a link that might be useful: A German Genius in Britain


 o
RE: Hello Again

I recall meeting a German woman of my age years ago in Virginia. We discussed the Holocaust and the camps. I remember asking her if she believed her parents knew about the ovens, as the smoke could be seen in the countryside. She claimed that they did not know about the gassing. What she said was that most ordinary Germans knew about the work camps and that is all.

Frieda, I think you twigged the point I was trying to make about Sebald's view of time: It is not sequential, but circular. Past, present, and future are blurred.

In addition, I do agree that Sebald's vision is very close to the "dreamtime" emphasized in the Aboriginal point of view in "The Last Wave." (one of my favorite films of all time).


 o
RE: Hello Again

I finished the book today, a whole day before the three-week library due date. I did like the last half better than the first, particularly the finding of Vera and his wanderings in Prague and Theresianstadt. However! In my book there were seven pages in the T-stadt portion describing the Potemkin-type village set up for the Red Cross to inspect that didn't even have a period. There was proper punctuation with semicolons, colons, dashes, and plenty of commas; but it made that long-winded old biddy in Pride and Prejudice look positively concise. I might not have noticed except that I was getting sleepy and looking for a place to stop reading.

I'm very thankful for those of you who are so insightful in writing about the book. Reading your thoughts helped me a lot, and I agree that it is one of those books that will stay with me in days to come in spite of my whining about its physical composition.

What did you make of the two periods of long hospitalization when A. lost all his memory?


 o
RE: Hello Again

Bringing this up to the top as a reminder for any others who want to join in the discussion.


 o
RE: Hello Again*

FWIW, if you read pages 100-101 (not the Penguin edition) you will find Austerlitz's unique interpretation of TIME, as one of his themes.


 o
RE: Hello Again**

I think I must be haunted by this book. I think one reason it seems timeless to me is one of its themes seems to be the displaced, the orphan, the refugee. The world is still dealing with refugee camps even though we may no longer have orphan trains. I think Sebald is trying to speak for the displaced, throughout history. This, of course, ties in to another of his themes: the question of identity.


 o
RE: Hello Again

Mary, I had to return my Penguin copy of 'A' to the library so cannot check the pages you mention, nor can I answer Carolyn's question about the times A was in hospital having suffered breakdowns; maybe you can help her out.
I would agree with you that the sense of identity and its loss, are probably the strongest themes throughout the book.
If one knew nothing about the author if would be easy to suppose he was writing about himself; that he was 'A', but Sebold was born at the end of the conflict at a time when what had happened in Germany was brushed, by them, under the carpet.

Despite my parents having several German friends little mention was made of what happened to them (or by them) from '39 - 45'. It was not considered polite to bring the subject up.
One friend told them that while living in the Ruhr an area that suffered heavy allied bombing towards the end, her father was in an air-raid shelter and mentioned to another man "Surely we cannot go on much longer." He was overheard by an informer and, within hours, was dragged in front of the SS and locked in prison for several weeks for unpatriotic remarks.
Another German acquaintance lost a husband at the Russian Front and moved to her parent's home in the country. The area had been heavily mined by their own troops and she saw her father and only son blown up when their horse and cart ran over one of the mines. She became very bitter and was given the job of caring for us three children while my parents went abroad for a couple of months. It was not a happy experience for us; not that she beat us or was cruel . . . just something in her attitude . . . and we were too young to understand or have any sympathy.


 o
RE: Hello Again

Perhaps Mary did answer my question about the hospitalizations--those times were a loss of identity. I hadn't thought of it in that way.


 o Post a Follow-Up

Please Note: Only registered members are able to post messages to this forum.

    If you are a member, please log in.

    If you aren't yet a member, join now!


Return to the Reader's Paradise Forum

Instructions

  • You must be a registered member and logged in to post messages on our forums.
  • Posting is a two-step process. Once you have composed your message, you will be taken to the preview page. You will then have a chance to review the contents and make changes.
  • After posting your message, you may need to refresh the forum page in order to see it.
  • It is illegal to post copyrighted material without the owner's consent.
  • HTML codes are allowed in the message field only.
  • No advertising is allowed in any of the forums.
  • If you would like to practice posting or uploading photos, please visit our Test forum.
  • If you need assistance, please Contact Us and we will be happy to help.

Send us mail... Film reviews... Art reviews... User forums... Info on this site...


Learn more about in-text links on this page here