Thursday, October 28, 2010

My Fairy Tales

In 1792 Emperor Leopold I donated a School of Philosophy and Catholic Theology in Breslau (Wrosaw) that was called Leopoldina after him. As a Catholic institute run by the Jesuits in Protestant Breslau the new university was an important instrument of the Counter-Reformation in Silesia. A symbol of the Jesuit influence is the Auditorium (Aula) decorated in the late Baroque style. Although I am not an aficionado of that genre I was impressed when our group visited the hall.

The Aula Leopoldina

The flowers are in Poland's red and white.
The motto Quod (bonum,) faustum, felix fortunatumque sit
is taken from Cicero's 'De Divinatione' (1, 45, 102):
May the outcome be good, propitious, lucky and successful


Strolling through the university quarter afterwards I looked into the window of a second hand bookshop and caught the sight of a battered edition of Märchen der Brüder Grimm.

This rang a bell deep inside. Didn’t I love my fairy tale book my mother read from 
with those colored pictures? Later I devoured the stories of Schneewittchen und die sieben Zwerge (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs), Frau Holle (Mother Hulda), Aschenputtel (Cinderella), Der Froschkönig oder der eiserne Heinrich (The Frog Prince), Schneeweißchen und Rosenrot (Snow-White and Rose-Red), you name them! Somehow this my book got lost during the war.

I entered the Antykwariat of Andrzej Jaworski and examined the book.It was indeed the same edition I once had owned and the price in Reichsmark was still written in the back in pencil: 2.85! The bookseller had pre-priced it for 48 Słoty where I would have given him easily double the price. I didn't trade and as the old man apparently hadn't noticed the greedy glint in my eyes he offered me the treasure for only 40. My fairy tale!

Indeed the pictures are impressive. Here are two examples:

I liked the piece of Lebkuchen (a mild gingerbread) Hänsel had broken off
from one corner of the roof

Rumpelstilzchen

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