Sunday, August 7, 2016

Time Travels

Red Baron just finished reading a third book by Bruno Preisendörfer published in 2016: Als unser Deutsch erfunden wurde. Reise in die Lutherzeit (When our German was invented. Time travel into the time of Luther). The book was released timely for next year's Reformation jamboree.

Bruno is a prolific writer. In 2015 he published: Als Deutschland noch nicht Deutschland war. Reise in die Goethezeit (When Germany was not yet Germany. Time travel into the time of Goethe).

His best book however Preisendörfer published in 2012: Der waghalsige Reisende. Johann Gottfried Seume und das ungeschützte Leben (The audacious traveler. Johann Gottfried Seume and the unprotected life). Red Baron had read and blogged about Seume's original texts: Spaziergang nach Syrakus (Walking to Syracuse) and Mein Sommer im Jahr 1805 (My Summer in the year of 1805) and still learned a lot about Johann Gottfried Seume from Preisendörfer's book.

So it was quite natural that last year I jumped on Bruno's book describing the daily life at the time of Goethe ... but I was slightly disappointed. The author has an enormous knowledge about written sources and places contemporary citations in chapters dealing with travel, urban and country life, food and drink, people and customs, sexuality, marriage, and family, health, illness and death lacking however an overall context. So I used Preisendörfer's book mainly as a welcome source of citations. In fact, citations too form the basis of my web site on Freiburg's history where I place them in the context of historical events, e.g., how did people live through the years of Napoleon's occupation of German territories, felt about and eventually wrote about it.

Preisendörfer's recent book is repeating the success of 2015 and already occupying rank four of the SPIEGEL bestseller list. However, his time travel into Luther's epoch is only slightly better than the one into Goethe's century. In fact, when reading the title Als unser Deutsch erfunden wurde you would expect some deeper insight in the development of modern German language in Luther's time. Well, there is some information about the situation of Church and Reich and the success of print media but otherwise its contents is again about travel, urban and country life, food and drink, people and customs, sexuality, marriage, and family, health, illness and death.

Into which century will Bruno travel next?

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