The Little Prince
The Little Prince
by Antoine De Saint-exupéry, Richard Howard
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How are you?
March 19th, 2006 by Ed Jonas
Question: How are you? Answer: Not.
Creative Writing Critique: Die Erfindung des Lebens (Satis Shroff)
May 12th, 2010 by Satis Shroff: Lecturer, Author, Poet, Singer(MGV-Kappel) Germany
Creative Writing Critique: Satis Shroff Book-review:Ortheil, Hanns-Josef Die Erfindung des Lebens, Luchterhand Literaturverlag, 590 pages,ISBN 978-3-630-87296-4. Kirchzarten, a scenic Schwarz
ald town, lies in the heart of the Dreisam Valley from where you can take the train to Titisee and the Black Forest. A tranquil place to go for extended walks and bike tours. And it was in Kirchzarten where I met Hanns-Josef Ortheil. To be precise: at Katrin Beltran’s Kirchzartener Bücherstube. Katrin studied Geography and went to work with microsoft in Munich where he met her husband. The two of them decided to overtake her Mom’s Bücherstube when she retired, where she loves to arrange author-readings. Katrin said, ‘I don’t earn much during the readings but we get attention from the media, and that’s good for our Bücherstube.’ Die Erfindung des Lebens is the story of a young man in the style of a Bildungsroman, an educational novel, in the tradition of Goethe’s The Sorrow of Young Werther and James Joyce’s Stephen Hero, which was eventually published as A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Hanns-Josef Ortheil looks good for his age, has a lot of blond hair, shows no signs of greying, and is soft-spoken and works sympathetic and quiet. He has a pleasant voice which he keeps modulating to suit the text he’s reading, sometimes loud, fast and calm. A lecturer who knows his way around in the reading circuit in Germany, Switzerland and Austria. This novel tells us about a biography that has to be re-invented every time after fate strikes a blow. What comes out is a thrilling account of a young pianist, and later a writer who’s fate takes a happy turn. The subject matter is organised chronically in five major chapters: I The Mute Child, II The Flight, III Rome and IV The Return. Hanns-Josef Ortheil was born in 1951 in Cologne and lives in Stuttgart, Hildesheim. He belongs to one of the most important contemporary authors and has received many literary prizes. He works as a professor for Creative Writing and Cultural Journalism at the University of Hildesheim. As to the treatment, I must say that it shows an extensive study into the protagonist’s life and his art of thinking and psyche as a person with a ludicrous autism, after all this ‘Ich-Erzähler’ is writing about himself in the first person singular. He describes his symbiotic relationship with his mother, his journey with his father to a family homestead, life there and separation from his dear mother, who’d actually curbed his life, development and social contacts with his peers through her omnipotent muteness. His father’s unconventional methods of teaching and the development of the young mind are noteworthy in this novel. The book reveals the author’s life as a young man, his childhood and youth and his early success as a writer, after he had to give up playing the piano due to a chronic inflammation of the tendons his fingers. As the only surviving son of his parents, who have lost two sons during the World War II, and two other sons after the War, he grew up in Cologne with his parents. The mother has become mute, and in her muteness she communicates with her husband and son only through small, neat chits written during the day, stacked and held together by a rubber. He, the only surviving son, lives also mute beside her. It takes years for him to free himself from the clamour of his family and goes to Rome to begin his career as a pianist. Talking about his mute days as a child he says: ‘sometimes I used to believe, nothing could separate me and mother at any time, no one and nothing in this world.’ A deep mother-son attachment. He goes on to say, ‘Father used to come early in the evening, and he belonged to us two. He was the third in our alliance, he used to leave the common apartment early morning and spend the entire day in the free Nature. My father worked as a survey engineer. When he returned he’d give my mother a kiss on her forehead. Then he’d ask her a few questions: how are you, is everything okay, anything new? Mother reacted always mute by shoving a small packet of chits she’d written during the day. Hans-Josef was also mute and there was no one whom he could ask.’ You have to imagine how it feels to live in a traumatised family, where the mother and son do not speak and only write and read small letters as a form of communication. I’ve left out the other two chapters just to make your curious. The way Ortheil describes his visit to the Conservatorium in Rome with Marietta, whom he has taught the piano, and now tells her what questions to ask her prospective piano teachers, their choice of a warm and spontaneous pianist and how they leave him for an hour with a Steinway piano is delightful. The description conjours up images akin to Patrick Süskind’s Jean-Baptiste in ‘Parfume,’ the man with the extraordinary smell. Whereas Süskind’s descriptions of scents and fragrances are a sensual experience for your olfactory glands, Ortheil’s confrontation with this piano is like the taming of the shrew, as he begins to play Schuman’s Fantasie in C-Major. He sweats in Rome, takes off his shirt, improvises, switches over to Phil Glass, and comes back to Fantasia again and again like in a trance. He flirts with the seventh piano sonate by Sergej Prokofieff. When it’s over, the applause comes from the street below. But the pianist doesn’t take a bow and chooses to remain unknown and undiscovered. The memory of bygone days overwhelms him. Ortheil always told his parents about his piano studies in Rome but never about the separation from Clara. This time he comes home without prior announcement. He has long hair, and not even the local taxi driver recognises him. He returns home after two years in Rome and decides then and there never to leave his beloved home again. His mother greets him with, ‘Johannes! My good boy!’ After a visit to the university hospital in Cologne he decides to end his career as a pianist. He goes with his mother to one of her readings. She reads Balzac for an audience. At home, she reads Stendhal, Flaubert and Proust. In the meantime, Ortheil dreams of Rome, Clara and calls Signora Francesca. A-major, that’s the most tender and also the saddest major-tone ever…Beethoven and Schubert wrote poems in A-major. Ortheil meets his former teacher Walter Fornemann, who can’t believe that his pupil now to work as a waiter and give up his career as a pianist virtuoso. He says he wants to go for walks, be underway and write. He wants to rewrite his notebooks and diaries. He’s written thousands of rough notebooks. So he becomes a writer. Fornemann says to Ortheil, ‘In reality you were not only a pianist but a writer since your childhood.’ When I asked whether his book was an autobiography, Ortheil said in his own words that ‘it is not a classical autobiography because it isn’t detailed and pragmatic.’ On the other hand, it is an excellent novel that has been inspired autobiographically. It is a tale about the psychological dependence, almost an addiction, to the world of his ancestors. At the same time, it’s a homage to his parents who learn to live again after years of sorrow, misery, deprivation during, and after the World War II. He also mentioned that he has a lot to thank the German literary pope Marcel Reich-Ranicki who appreciated and praised his work. Ranicki, it might be noted, can make or break an author. Ortheil’s work has been recently awarded the Literary Prize of Brandenburg, the Thomas Mann Prize, the Georg-K.-Glaser Prize, the Koblenz Literature Prize, the Nicolas Born Prize, the latest being the Elizabeth-Langgässer Literature Prize. His novels have been published in 20 languages. His German book-titles are: Die grosse Liebe 2003, Die geheimen Stunden der Nacht 2005, Das verlangen nach Liebe 2007. His other books are: Wie Romane entstehen 2008 and Lesehunger 2009. Apropos Kartin Beltran, she’s bringing out a book about the beautiful Dreisam Valley. You bet I’ll review it. The book will be published by Herder Verlag, Freiburg. Welcome to the Schwarzwald (Black Forest). ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Autor Biographie Satis Shroff ist Dozent, Schriftsteller, Dichter und Kunstler und außerdem Lehrbeauftragter für Creative Writing an der Albert Ludwigs Universität Freiburg. Er hat sechs Bücher geschrieben: Im Schatten des Himalaya (Gedichte und Prosa), Through Nepalese Eyes (Reisebericht), Katmandu, Katmandu (Gedichte und Prosa mit Nepali autoren) Glacial Whispers (Gedichtesammlung zwischen 1997-2010). Er hat zwei Sprachführer im Auftrag von Horlemannverlag und Deutsche Stiftung für Entwicklungsdienst (DSE) geschrieben, außerdem drei Artikeln über die Gurkhas, Achtausender und Nepals Symbolen für Nelles Verlags ‚Nepal’ und über Hinduismus in „Nepal: Myths & Realities (Book Faith India). Sein Gedicht „Mental Molotovs“ wurde im epd-Entwicklungsdienst (Frankfurt) veröffentlicht. Seine Lyrik sind in Slow Trains, International Zeitschrift, World Poetry Society (WPS), New Writing North, Muses Review, The Megaphone, Pen Himalaya, Interpoetry publiziert worden. Er ist ein Mitglied von Writers of Peace, poets, essayists, novelists (PEN), World Poetry Society (WPS) usw. Satis Shroff lebt in Freiburg (poems, fiction, non-fiction) und schreibt über ökologische, medizin-ethnologische und kultur-ethnische Themen. Er hat Zoologie und Botanik in Nepal, Sozialarbeit und Medizin in Freiburg und Creative Writing in Freiburg und UK studiert. Da Literatur eine der wichtigsten Wege ist, um die Kulturen kennenzulernen, hat er sein Leben dem Kreatives Schreiben gewidmet. Er arbeitet als Dozent in Basel (Schweiz) und in Deutschland an der Akademie für medizinische Berufe (Uniklinik Freiburg). Ihm wurde der DAAD-Preis verliehen. © 2010, Satis Shroff. You may republish this article online provided you keep the by-line, the author's note, and the active hyperlinks. less
June 28th, 2010 by Satis Shroff: Lecturer, Author, Poet, Singer(MGV-Kappel) Germany
Commentary: Waltz versus Tango (Satis Shroff, Freiburg-Kappel) Stop the press. Germany, this historically disciplined and merciless soccer nation, that shot a penalty to the sky during a world cha
pionship since 1974, has overrun England with 4:1. Podolski, even though born in Poland, scored against the Brit team. Joachim Löw is in cloud seven (German: Siebte Himmel), thanks to Podolski, a great lad with an infectious smile and a stunning left leg. The German team fought not only like lions but used their heads to perform an excellent combination football, a football that makes your heart beat higher. The British team was more for man-to-man fights, tacklings and kick-and-rush tactic which bore fruit only once in the entire game. Lempard’s goal was so fast that no referee or linesman was able to register it. The camera did. But what actually counts on the field is what the referee sees with his own two eyes. And his fifa linesmen saw only the last sequence of the ball bouncing and the German goalie clearing it. ‘God Save the Queen’ sang the British audience and players with their hands over their hearts. The Queen is safe but Britain doesn’t feel well. I wonder what the Daily Mail and the Times will come out with tomorrow. Perhaps ‘British Pansies run over by German Panzer?’ That comes from reading too many Battler Briton comics in the Grammar and Comprehensive schools in which the Germans, who invariably bear names like Hans, Fritz and Joachim and keep on repeating only the three words ‘Achtung, Halt and Jawohl.’ World War II is long over and new generations of friendly, sympathetic, travelling and intelligent Germans have long taken the place of the Germans of yesteryears. And yet boulevard and even serious English newspapers and journals still promote the cliches of yesterday, which is a shame. One on-looker even displayed proudly his cloth German Messerschmidt plane, another cliché of the Second World War. No sir, it wasn’t the hackneyed cliché that won the day but a young, talented, sovereign team with dream passes that shone today. Löw’s boys showed us the delights of soccer and team-play. Schweinsteiger, Podolski, Klose, Özil and Müller as well as the whole compact German showed what team-spirit is. It was dream football for Germany and a disappointing and traumatic experience for Britain. That the fighting spirit alone doesn’t suffice in soccer was a bitter experience for trainer Capello, who had a munity in his British Bounty. Against Slovenia the three British Lions showed their prowess and capabilities in man-to-man duels. England beat the Slovenians 1:0 through Jermain Defoe of Tottenham Hotspurs. Whereas other teams make use of vuvuzelas when their teams attack, English fans prefer to sing. The match England versus Germany was on the whole fair, the number of yellow cards was kept to a minimum, and the flow of the game was allowed by referee Stark. ‘We’ve won the game with our heads,’ said Capello in their second last game. But our German lads more of the Kampfgeist, strategy and tactics, wasn’t it? They worked hard, ran, fought, had discipline, team-spirit and endurance. Özil, Klose, Podolski, Müller et al were at their best, especially Podolski and Klose who in reality weren’t in form in their respective clubs but rose to the occasion and thanked trainer Löw with unforgettable goals. As the last 45 minutes ticked away David Beckham’s countenance became a granite mask. The fact that he’d patted his colleagues and spoken words of courage in the intermission hadn’t helped a bit. Good old Rooney wasn’t his old self either. Maradonna’s Agentinians have won a decisive battle against the Mexicans. Ah, what a promising match. I don’t want to conjour up memories of the Falklands, but it’ll be a German waltz versus Argentinian tango. Which team might win? Your guess is just as good as mine. I pead for more of the ratio and less of the emotio. The better team shall prevail. Autor Biographie Satis Shroff ist Dozent, Schriftsteller, Dichter und Kunstler und außerdem Lehrbeauftragter für Creative Writing an der Albert Ludwigs Universität Freiburg. Er hat sechs Bücher geschrieben: Im Schatten des Himalaya (Gedichte und Prosa), Through Nepalese Eyes (Reisebericht), Katmandu, Katmandu (Gedichte und Prosa mit Nepali autoren) Glacial Whispers (Gedichtesammlung zwischen 1997-2010). Er hat zwei Sprachführer im Auftrag von Horlemannverlag und Deutsche Stiftung für Entwicklungsdienst (DSE) geschrieben, außerdem drei Artikeln über die Gurkhas, Achtausender und Nepals Symbolen für Nelles Verlags ‚Nepal’ und über Hinduismus in „Nepal: Myths & Realities (Book Faith India). Sein Gedicht „Mental Molotovs“ wurde im epd-Entwicklungsdienst (Frankfurt) veröffentlicht. Seine Lyrik sind in Slow Trains, International Zeitschrift, World Poetry Society (WPS), New Writing North, Muses Review, The Megaphone, Pen Himalaya, Interpoetry publiziert worden. Er ist ein Mitglied von Writers of Peace, poets, essayists, novelists (PEN), World Poetry Society (WPS) usw. Satis Shroff lebt in Freiburg (poems, fiction, non-fiction) und schreibt über ökologische, medizin-ethnologische und kultur-ethnische Themen. Er hat Zoologie und Botanik in Nepal, Sozialarbeit und Medizin in Freiburg und Creative Writing in Freiburg und UK studiert. Da Literatur eine der wichtigsten Wege ist, um die Kulturen kennenzulernen, hat er sein Leben dem Kreatives Schreiben gewidmet. Er arbeitet als Dozent in Basel (Schweiz) und in Deutschland an der Akademie für medizinische Berufe (Uniklinik Freiburg). Ihm wurde der DAAD-Preis verliehen. less
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